Sunday, June 23, 2024
Sunday, June 23, 2024

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

‘This Is All Bullsh*t’: Meeting Attendees Blast $91 Million Oconomowoc School Referendum


Meeting attendees unloaded on school officials at an informational meeting this week on a possible $91 million Oconomowoc school referendum, with one man telling them, “This is all bullsh*t.”

One of the biggest items of concern: Officials’ desire for a “multipurpose indoor turf facility.”

Larry Halverson, 74, of Oconomowoc, said that his home assessment has continued to go up, “even though I didn’t do a d*mn thing to my house. My taxes keep skyrocketing.”

[SPECIAL FOR OUR READERS: Save 20% on select product(s) with promo code 209DSU6Q on]

Officials gave out a handout that listed $91.15 million in potential costs. They included: $32.9 million for Oconomowoc High School HVAC and roof sections at OHS and Ixonia; $5.75 million for Ixonia Elementary School; $39.4 million for OHS renovations and expansion; and $13.1 million for OHS multi-purpose indoor turf facility.

Oconomowoc school referendum

They said the items would increase property taxes by $9 for every $100,000 of property value over the current level. That would be a property tax increase of $31.50 for a home valued at $350,000.

Meeting attendees made comments like “you guys are moving too fast. How would anyone know about this meeting? It’s insanity,” and “put money away. Have a plan in place to avoid having to go to referendum all the time” and “you’re asking for more and you haven’t shown you can take care of the first millions.” They said that the School District should run more like a private business, looking for efficiencies and cost savings, not only seeking more revenue.

“Here you are with your hand out,” a woman angrily scolded the officials. “You’ve got us over the barrel with the boiler and HVAC. The other stuff is a pipe dream. We don’t need it.”

Oconomowoc school referendum
Citizens at the oconomowoc school referendum meeting

“You haven’t done sufficient planning for decades,” she said. She called it a “fancy plan that we don’t need.”

She urged officials to “stick to core competencies,” saying, “this has been a working-class town since the 1850s.” She refused to give her name when approached by WRN.

Some residents asked officials why the Oconomowoc School District needs so much money, especially when residents are struggling with rising inflation after voters already approved a $54.9 million Oconomowoc School referendum in 2016.

Alexandra Schweitzer suggested that officials consider “booster clubs and pizza sales,” saying, “Why should I, with no kids in the district, pay so much?”

Superintendent Michael Sereno led the meeting. Sereno was hired after plans were put in motion for the requests. He fielded questions and told residents that officials want to hear their concerns. A survey, which was delayed, will soon be going out to all Oconomowoc residents, he said.

“We want to get a sense of what the community feels,” Sereno said. “It also has an impact on our community,” he acknowledged. “There is certainly a financial impact on this.”

Sereno told Wisconsin Right Now that there is not a firm proposal for a referendum yet. He characterized the meetings as exploratory. If the Oconomowoc school referendum did end up being placed on the ballot, that could happen in April 2023, he said.

Oconomowoc school referendum
Oconomowoc schools indoor turf facility proposal

Only a smattering of residents attended the meeting in the high school’s cafeteria.

Oconomowoc School Referendum

Sereno and other officials presented a list of concerns. They said that Ixonia Elementary School is “beyond functional capacity” and has two temporary classrooms. Art classes in the high school are being held in former home ec spaces. The cafeteria is too small. There is pressure on the athletic programs. There are three bands, but there is no space to bring them together, and so on.

Everyone in the room seemed to agree that some of the items on the list – primary fixing a 1960s-era boiler system and HVAC – are necessities. But some of the citizens who attended the meeting questioned some of the other items on the list as “wants.” For example, in addition to the new indoor turf facility, officials hope to build an area with a “coffee-shop feeling” where students can display their artwork at Oconomowoc High School. They also want to build a cardio fitness space.

Oconomowoc school referendum
An official speaks at the meeting

Some citizens also questioned why the School District did not save money over time for the boiler system and HVAC, knowing these issues would be coming down the pike. Officials responded that, several years ago, a fund was started to do just that, but it only has $10 million in it so far.

Table of Contents

tommy thompson trump

Wisconsin Govs Tommy Thompson & Scott Walker Will ‘Criss-Cross’ State to Boost Trump

"The momentum is building" - Wisconsin GOP Chair Brian Schimming Former Wisconsin Governors Tommy Thompson and...
michael thurston

Waukesha County DA Candidates Slam Soft-on-Crime Policies Under Tony Evers

This is story 1 in WRN's 7-part series on the Waukesha County District Attorney's race,...
trump milwaukee

Trump and Milwaukee [Up Against the Wall]

Democrats love their cities. They know that people who move to cities are more likely...
david prosser

In ‘Petty’ Move, Liberal Justices Erase Conservative’s Name From State Law Library

The liberal partisans on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are erasing former conservative Justice David Prosser's...
dan bice

Stop the Presses! The Media Is Upset Brad Schimel Was Caught Speeding

Dan Bice left out a key sentence that changes the context. Stop the presses! The liberal...
tammy baldwin biden

Sen. Tammy Baldwin Says Biden Presidency Is ‘One of the Most Successful’ in Generations

Tammy Baldwin praised the "accomplishments" of the Biden administration. Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin insists that...
Wisconsin School Choice Lawsuit Expanding School Choice Kirk Bangstad Wisconsin school choice Milwaukee School Choice

Response to MPS Debacle MUST Include Expanded School Choice for All Families

No response to the regrettable MPS debacle will be adequate if it does not include...
trump milwaukee

7 Members of Congress DEBUNK Claim Trump Disparaged Milwaukee as a ‘Horrible City’

Seven members of Congress have debunked the misleading media claim that former President Donald Trump...
john e wall

John E. Wall: The Importance of Fathers [Up Against the Wall]

My father, John E. Wall, age 91, passed away on Monday, October 30th, 2017. He...
kamala harris most liberal

Voters Lack Confidence Kamala Harris Can Become President

Vice President Kamala Harris has a fight on her hands if she wants to inherit the Democratic presidential mantle after President Joe Biden’s time is over, according to a new poll.

The Politico/Morning Consult poll shows that voters have serious doubts about Harris’ electability.

The poll found only 14% of voters said it was “very likely” Harris would win a general election for president if she became the Democratic nominee. Another 20% said it was “somewhat likely.”

The poll is especially noteworthy given Biden's age. The incumbent president is 81 years old and appears increasingly in decline.

A moment of confusion for Biden at a June 6 D-Day ceremony went viral last week, the latest in a string of similar incidents. At the same time, Biden remains competitive with former President Donald Trump, though several polls suggest Trump has a lead over the president.

Biden's incidents have led some to speculate that Democrats could or should try to replace Biden at the Democratic convention in Chicago in August. That would be a highly unusual, though not impossible, move. Removing Biden would naturally raise the question about who could replace him, but for now voters seem to lack confidence that Harris could win.

The poll also looked ahead to 2028: “If President Joe Biden were not in the running for president in 2028, which of the following Democrats, if any, would you want to be the Democratic candidate for president?”

While Harris was top of the list among Democrats, she only received 21% support. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg both received 10% support each, while 41% said they were unsure or didn't know.

Only 42% of those polled described Harris as trustworthy, and 44% described her as honest, according to the poll.

Notably, only 36% of those surveyed said Biden should replace Harris as his VP on the ticket.

trump convicted felon

Hell YES, I’m Voting For the Convicted Felon! [WRN Voices]

The dust has now settled after a period of time, when a former president was...

A Do-Over Is Needed on the $252 Million MPS Referendum [WRN VOICES]

By Steve Ewing Time to throw the challenge flag on the MPS referendum. Recently, voters in...
washington county da

Warring Law Enforcement Endorsements in Washington County DA’s Race

Candidates Barry Braatz and Mandy Schepper have each announced major law enforcement endorsements as the...

MPS Failed to Follow State Law by Not Filing Financial Reports With City Clerk

The Milwaukee Public Schools board has failed to follow a state law requiring the district's...

GOP Lawmakers Want Legislative Auditors to Review MPS Finances

(The Center Square) – Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol don’t want Gov. Tony Evers to waste the chance to get a good look at Milwaukee Public Schools’ shortcomings.

Evers recently called for an operational and an instructional audit of MPS.

“I’m proposing today to go two steps further with two important goals: the first, to audit MPS’ programs and operations in their entirety, and the second, to audit the effectiveness of teaching and instruction of our kids in classrooms across the district,” Evers said.

The governor, however, wants to keep the audit within his administration and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said that’d be a mistake.

“I’m glad that Gov. Evers has called for an audit of the Milwaukee Public School System. Gov. Evers and DPI should work with Joint Legislative Audit Committee Co-Chairs [Eric] Wimberger and [Robert] Wittke to discuss authorizing the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau to audit MPS, DPI and any other involved stakeholders,” LeMahieu said. “The LAB is more than capable of handling this important undertaking independently and transparently without the use of outside contractors.”

The worry is an audit controlled by the governor’s office will not fully look into MPS’s shortcomings.

The calls for audits in Milwaukee Public Schools come after the state withheld nearly $17 million last week because of incomplete and late financial reports. One of those reports was due to the Department of Public Instruction in September 2023.

Evers has asked MPS leaders to be a part of any audit process but warned that not everyone will be invited.

“I also have to say – I’m exceedingly disappointed by the politicking and jockeying I’ve seen since this situation came to light by opportunists who’re seizing this moment to serve their own selfish goals instead of worrying about what matters most: our kids,” Evers added.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos took to social media to accuse the governor of being the one who is playing politics.

“And who do you think [Evers] will suggest conducts the audits?” Vos asked. “The same failed DPI bureaucrats who allowed this to happen or his administration who wanted to dismantle the school choice system so all kids were forced into this MPS mess? We need real reforms to the current mentality where MPS has been protecting the bureaucracy and Gov. Evers has been advocating for shoveling hundreds of millions of dollars into this broken system.”

Report Clearing Biden Biden Approval Rating Americore Biden Acknowledge Hamas Biden Tells Israel Not to Occupy Gaza Biden impeachment Supreme Court Strikes Down Biden’s Student Loan Cancellation

Biden’s New Staffing Requirements Put Most Illinois Nursing Homes in Peril

An industry group says the Biden administration’s new staffing regulations for long-term care facilities are unrealistic.

The mandate requires that all nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding provide a total of at least 3.48 hours of nursing care per resident per day. Plus, nursing homes must have a registered nurse onsite at all times.

Research by shows 82%, or nearly 12,000 facilities in the U.S., will need to hire staff or face being shut down.

Spokesperson Corie Wagner said Illinois is home to the fifth highest number of understaffed nursing homes in the country.

“If we were to apply the new policies and new standards to nursing homes in Illinois today, 84% of facilities would need more staff, and that is really significant,” said Wagner.

The mandate will be phased in over three years, with rural communities having up to five years.

Nursing home operators strongly objected to the minimum staffing proposal in September, saying they already struggle to fill open positions.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in September announced a $75 million campaign to increase the number of nurses in nursing homes.

Nearly 1.2 million residents live in Medicare- and Medicaid-certified, long-term care facilities, but Wagner said that number is expected to increase.

“It’s called the Silver Tsunami, so more Americans are aged 65 or older than ever,” said Wagner. “It's one of the largest segments of our population but the infrastructure we have is not keeping up with our population shift.”

A resolution aimed at overturning Biden’s nursing home staffing mandate has a legitimate chance to pass the U.S. Senate.

tammy baldwin

Protesters Shout at Sen. Tammy Baldwin at Wisconsin Democratic Convention [VIDEO]

Pro-Palestinian protesters shouted at U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin at the state Democratic Convention in Milwaukee...
mps referendum

Milwaukee Public Schools Must Immediately Halt Referendum Spending

Milwaukee Public Schools must immediately halt all spending authorized by the narrowly passed $252 million...

Milwaukee Aldermen Call Out Gov. Evers for Not Sharing MPS Problems With Public

Two Milwaukee aldermen are calling out Gov. Tony Evers' office, questioning why Evers did not...
trump waukesha

Trump Trial Travesty: Let’s Not Lose Hope [Up Against the Wall]

What can I say that others haven’t already said? First, let’s not lose hope. Trump...