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Mequon-Thiensville School Board criticizes Legislature, advocates local control

Residents are 'disenfranchised' after mandates, revenue limits

Feb. 25, 2014

Mequon — Revenue limits, charter and choice schools, accountability, the school calendar, and the Common Core were all subjects of conversation Monday as the School Board passed a series of resolutions advocating for local control.

While the resolutions themselves don't necessarily compel the Legislature to act, or not act, they do make the School Board's stance on the issues both clear and public.

"From the standpoint of taking public stands on legislative issues, resolutions are probably the most effective approach to do so," board and Legislative Committee member Suzette Urbashich said.

The district has also launched a Website that describes the committee's charge, legislative issues relevant to Mequon-Thiensville, and contact information for state legislators, state Superintendent Tony Evers and Gov. Scott Walker.

Local control

The board acknowledged repeatedly that the overarching theme of the resolutions is bringing local control back to school boards and district residents.

One resolution says the state has disenfranchised Mequon-Thiensville residents with the combination of state-mandated "revenue limits, unfunded mandates and the redistribution of local property taxes," describes the resulting funding formula as unsustainable, and calls for districts to be able to set their own levies as district residents see fit.

Another resolution opposes the expansion of "unregulated and under-evaluated" charter and choice schools in Wisconsin.

"They have to be held accountable, that's all," board member Cheryle Rebholz said. "They take public money and they need to be held to the state standards — a level playing field."

Other resolutions oppose a revision to state school accountability measures — the measures that ranked Mequon-Thiensville first among public K-12 districts last year — and a restriction imposed by the state that keeps schools from starting before Sept. 1 or the day after Labor Day.

Common Core is thef floor

The only resolution passed in support of something was with regards to the state Common Core standards. While the resolution supports the adoption of the standards at the state level, board members made it clear they expect to exceed those standards.

"Any state standards we recognize as the floor, not the ceiling," Urbashich said.

Board members likened the recent state and national Common Core controversy to a similar uproar when the state was considering adoption of the Wisconsin Academic Standards and Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam in 1998.

"It's the same conversation," board member Stephanie Clark said, "just 20 years later."

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