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Mequon-Thiensville officials OK branding committee; question low representation

One member asks why the district is a second-class citizen

June 19, 2012

Mequon - The Mequon-Thiensville School Board has agreed to participate in a collaborative marketing effort, but many officials expressed dismay at a perceived inequitable distribution in representation while discussing the issue this week.

The board voted unanimously to appoint one representative to a branding committee that will include representation from the city of Mequon, village of Thiensville and the Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from all four entities will work in tandem to create a brand that emphasizes the virtues of both communities.

School officials had requested greater representation on the committee - from one to two representatives - but the proposal was nixed last week when the Mequon Common Council voted on a proposal that called for three board members on behalf of the city, two on behalf of the village and one member each for the school district and chamber.

During this week's discussion, School Board members wrangled over the issue. While some members wanted a clear explanation from the city on the reason behind the denial, officials ultimately decided to work toward appointing a person to the committee.

But the board will no longer make available supplementary resources. Preliminary plans had called on Superintendent Demond Means working with committee members, in addition to staff from the Donovan Group, a firm the district has contracted with for communications efforts.

Despite the dismay in Mequon's decision, the board as a whole stated a belief there should be a representative on behalf of the school district - particularly since it covers both communities and schools oftentimes are a draw for prospective homebuyers.

But several board members questioned the rationale behind the staggered representation.

"Is this a true collaborative effort?" board President Suzette Urbashich said. "It begs the question."

Board member Jim Liska added: "I'm still trying to figure out why we're second-class citizens."

The board is currently seeking prospective representatives for the position. Interested participants have until July 2 to fill out an application, which can be accessed on the district website at mtsd.k12.wi.us/cms_files/resources/Branding%20Committe%20Application%20061912.pdf.

Several board members will review applications before making a recommendation to the full board July 16.

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