June 28, 2008

Raiders open season on a scoring note

Shawn Kain (9): His first game as quarterback

Bryan Jennings Jr. (35) scored twice early

Kain threw for a TD... and ran for one as well

Coach John Mamerow in his first game at the helm

What's a football game without cheerleaders?

Sunset put on a show behind the bleachers

So did they win? I hear you asking... Well, the score at halftime was Raiders, 28; Rochester Giants, 0, which also was the final score. A perfect start for the Raiders' 56th season.

The JT's story is HERE.

June 27, 2008

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.
Meanwhile, your Congressmen...

Take heart, all you General Motors employees in Janesville. Yes, you who will soon be on the unemployment line. Congress passed a bill Thursday just for GM.

While jobs disappear, the stock market tanks, the war in Iraq goes on and on and a gallon of gas tops $4 for those who can afford it, the U.S. House of Representatives took the time to designate next Monday as National Corvette Day.

We have no idea how Wisconsin Congressmen voted on this momentous measure, because the House was smart enough to eschew a roll call and tip its symbolic hat to America's chick magnet sports car by voice vote. House Resolution 970, which had 55 co-sponsors (none from Wisconsin), states:
Whereas the Chevrolet Corvette is America's first sports car;

Whereas the first production Corvette rolled off a Flint, Michigan, assembly line on June 30, 1953;

Whereas the Corvette is now manufactured in Bowling Green, Kentucky;

Whereas the Corvette is the most widely respected production sports car in United States history;

Whereas the Corvette is truly a symbol of American pride;

Whereas General Motors is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2008; and

Whereas the 30th of June would be an appropriate day to designate as `National Corvette Day': Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the United States House of Representatives supports the designation of a `National Corvette Day' to honor the Chevrolet Corvette.
OK, feel free to resume your whining about the economy, your job, the war, the price of gasoline and whatever else is bothering you. Just remember, Congress has gone home for the weekend.

A modest proposal for Unified and Parkside...*

Let's switch search firms.

The contracts Racine Unified and UW-Parkside had with their search firms both offer a second search free (as long as we pay expenses, of course) in the event a search turns to sh-- ... um, fails the first time around, as has happened in both cases.

We've already spent upwards of $100,000 on the two searches. One brought Unified three top candidates paid to leave by their last school district employers (and one who'd written his own letters of recommendation, and more, to get a previous superintendency) and then a superintendent-designee who left us standing at the altar without even a farewell kiss or a personal phone call. The other search gave Parkside a chancellor-designee with an amazing amount of questionable history who turns up under federal investigation a week before his inauguration. Wouldn't that have been an investiture to remember if the feds had come just a week later!

Is it just us? Are we modern-day embodiments of Al Capp's poor ol' Joe Btfsplk, who walked around with a thundercloud over his head, trailed by disaster?

From what we saw at Unified, these search firms "work with" a group of job seekers, and keep proposing them to various paying clients. In Unified's case, for example, at least two of the three finalists winnowed down from the list ProAct provided had been presented by the search firm to at least one other district client -- Toledo. After a while, the search firms must feel they have something invested in the applicants, because it's clear they're less-than-forthright about the warts uncovered in their backgrounds.

So, it stands to reason that if ProAct is again hired to find Unified a superintendent, and if EFL Associates is again contracted to find Parkside a new chancellor, both will dip into their usual well of applicants, and propose to us more of the same old, same old. Environmentally, this kind of recycling is fine, but in the academic milieu it doesn't seem to be working.

Which brings us to the genius of our proposal (what's the point of false modesty, eh?). If we switch search firms -- ask EFL to find us a new superintendent and ProAct to find us a new chancellor -- then both will have to start from scratch. Maybe this way they will both come up with competent candidates who won't bolt at the last minute.

Or maybe not.

Aw, hell, let's just throw darts at the phone book and be done with it...

* With apologies to Jonathan Swift. Hey, I'm not suggesting we eat any babies...

USA Today lists our parade among U.S.'s 10 Best

USA Today lists our Fourth of July parade as one of the ten best in the country. Here's what the largest circulation newspaper in the U.S. (2.25 million copies a day!) has to say about us:
Racine Fourth Fest Parade, Racine, Wis.

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Chicago, Racine hosts one of the largest Fourth of July parades in the Midwest. "This 71-year-old parade began as a collaborative effort between corporations and labor unions to set aside 'one day of peace' between workers and management," Steve Schmader, president and CEO of the Interational Festivals & Events Association says. "With nearly 200 units — equestrian entries, clowns, jugglers, floats, bands, firetrucks, antique cars, dignitaries and more — Racine's parade has grown to become a huge community and family-oriented celebration."
Interested in a longer trip? HERE are the rest of USA Today's recommendations.

June 26, 2008

Felner: The Neverending Story

Wish we could take credit even for the headline above, but it comes from the Page One Kentucky blog, which has been leading this story all week.

But wait, there's more!
People on the chancellor search committee at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside knew the man they recommended as a finalist got a no-confidence vote at the college where he was dean, but they didn’t tell the Board of Regents or the UW System president about it — raising more tough questions about the university system’s vetting process. --Journal-Sentinel

EFL Associates, the search firm responsible for finding Robert Felner for the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, charged $70,000 in fees and expenses. We’re pretty much certain at this time that UW-Parkside is convulsing on the floor of its local dive bar and/or trying to drink the pain away. Can you even imagine? $70,000 and EFL didn’t turn up a damn thing?

We have uncovered information that (more than) suggests Robert Felner hired his girlfriend in January 2005 at an annual salary $20K-$30K higher than many tenured faculty -- and she had no (still doesn’t) terminal degree. She was a former high school assistant principal who now serves as co-principal on several grants in which Felner is the primary. Nearly everyone we have spoken with at the University of Louisville brings the relationship up because they say it’s indicative of greater problems (i.e, everybody hired while Felner was in charge happened to be young and blonde.)

We have also discovered that Felner threatened to leave the University of Louisville on several occasions and used written offers from other schools in order to obtain matching offers from the Provost. In 2006 Felner got an offer from Ohio State University that he claimed to be considering seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the University of Louisville gave him another raise and threw a giant party in his honor that included some interesting (to say the least) t-shirts sold to people who wanted to attend the event. --Page One Kentucky

Felner has been involved in at least one public flap involving research grants. In 2003 he resigned as dean of the University of Rhode Island's School of Education, blaming a state law for his departure. According to an account in The Providence Journal, Mr. Felner said he lost $15-million in research grants because of a cap on university staffing that prevented him from hiring enough employees to conduct the research. Calling the research a "missed opportunity," Mr. Felner told the newspaper: "Can you imagine Brown University turning down grant money?"

In the case of a failed search, consultants typically conduct a second search without charging a fee. (Jason) Meschke (president of EFL Associates) said his firm was contractually required to do so for the Parkside campus. "We are standing by the contract," he said. (Wisconsin University system spokesman David) Giroux said the system was considering the Parkside search a "teachable moment" -- Chronicle of Higher Education

The federal investigation into allegations of mishandled funds at the University of Louisville has led another university to review grant expenditures made by the dean at the center of the investigation. A spokeswoman at the University of Rhode Island, where Robert Felner worked from 1996 to 2003, confirmed today the school is reviewing his grant expenditures while he was employed there. --Louisville Courier-Journal

University of Wisconsin-Parkside officials knew as early as last Friday that there was a federal investigation into Robert Felner when agents showed up at the chancellor's office to take away boxes of paperwork he already sent here... David Giroux, a UW System spokesman, said officials weren't aware of the federal investigation until Felner informed the university in a phone call Sunday, two days after agents came to Parkside. Giroux said Parkside didn't inform UW officials of the investigation until Monday. --Kenosha News

Mogk serves up wine and politics

Congressional candidate as sommelier

John Mogk was keeping two conversational threads going last night.

One revolved around the four wines he was pouring at the Sommelier Wine Shop in Kenosha. "It's got a crisp taste, a little pucker on the tongue, some sweetness," he said, of one of the four bottles in front of him. The wines came from Trento, Italy, and Bad Wildungen, Germany -- the places his mother's, and father's families came from.

(Hey, as a political fund-raiser, meet-n-greet topic, it sure beat a stiff in a suit delivering a speech!)

The other conversation had more political substance: what he would do if elected to Congress in the 1st Congressional District in November.

Mogk is the latest Democrat seeking the opportunity to oppose Republican Paul Ryan, who has held the Congressional seat for 10 years. Ryan has incumbency, a huge war chest and a string of five easy victories behind him.

Despite all that, Democrats are eager to take him on in this presidential election year, a year in which all the recent Wisconsin polls show Democrat Barack Obama with a substantial lead over Republican John McCain. Marge Krupp announced her candidacy last June; Paulette Garin in January. By February, there were four: Dr. Jeffrey Thomas, Ryan's victim in each of the past four elections, is running yet again; and so is the man Thomas edged out in the 2006 Democratic primary, Mike Hebert.

And since earlier this month there are five: Call John Mogk Johnny-come-lately or accept his analysis that "there's still not a front-runner" among the earlier-announced candidates. "I started talking to people and getting encouraged to run. I'm really not being a spoiler. I think I've caught up with the other candidates already, in terms of people who are approaching me. Now, if we can just catch up on the money side."

Krupp has said she expects the race against Ryan to cost $2 million. Mogk thinks it will be about $750,000. Garin was somewhere in the high six figures. The other two Democratic wannabees -- Thomas and Hebert -- are famous for spending ... um, nothing. (They've never been elected, either.)

Mogk, 41, who was Kenosha Field Organizer for Kerry/Edwards in 2004, says he decided to run this year because "you never know what's going to happen tomorrow. You can say 'I won't run' because of Dr. Thomas, you can say 'I won't run' because Ryan has won before. Well, he's never had a challenge. And yet, he's not bringing more jobs into the district, there are things we could do with environmental issues..."

"I'm here to represent the people of the 1st District. Not the oil companies, not the party."

It's the people of the district who should set a Congressman's agenda, says Mogk (the "g" is silent). He ticks off issues in the order people mention them to him:
1. Universal health care.
2. Energy and gas prices
3. The economy and jobs.
4. Education.
"Everyone's going to pay $500 more a year for food," he says, just because of the extra costs in transportation and packaging. "And in Janesville, 2,400 people will be out of work" because GM's reliance on big cars has run into those high gas prices too.

Interestingly, Mogk says Iraq hardly comes up in discussions with potential voters. "I would like to see us get out as soon as possible, while protecting the troops," he says. But he also thinks the Iraqi people "want us to stay and help them create Democracy."

Most surprisingly (to me, anyway), Mogk says he agrees with Ryan's lone stand against earmarks. "If everybody in Congress keeps saying yes, we're going to be playing the same game. Eventually, the people will get behind me on this, even if I'm the only one."

Mogk says he has collected about 1,500 signatures; candidates need 1,000 "nominators' signatures" to get on the Democratic Primary ballot, and are permitted to submit up to 2,000. They usually opt for the larger number because anyone who signs more than one candidate's petitions is disqualified if there is a challenge. Deadline for submission is July 8.

More on Mogk HERE. His website is HERE.

More on Krupp and Garin HERE.

More on Thomas and Hebert HERE.

The first four appeared at the 1st District's annual convention in February. Read about it HERE.

Here are the four wines John Mogk was serving

New C.O.P. House opens on Villa Street July 1

The Racine Police Department will celebrate the opening of its newest Community Oriented Policing House on July 1 at 5 p.m. There will be a short ceremony followed by refreshments and tours.

This latest C.O.P. House involved the efforts of The Community Outpost, Neighborhood Housing Services, The Racine Police Department, and several contractors.

The new house is located at 1146 Villa St, at the northwest corner of 12th and Villa Streets. On March 13 the walls were delivered to the site and the house began its transformation from two empty lots to the two-story, four bedroom, three-bathroom house there today.

As with all of the C.O.P. houses, this one will have a conference room and several bedrooms, converted to offices. A Racine Police Officer assigned to the house will be headquartered there, working with neighborhood residents to address local needs and providing a positive image for the Department.

Typically, Department of Correction Probation & Parole officers maintain an office and meet their clients in the C.O.P House, and the Gang Diversion Task Force will occupy some space. Additionally, the oversized garage is set up as a conference room.

The hope is that the C.O.P. House will lead to a reduction in crime in that area, and enough confidence in the neighborhood that more investment by homeowners and landlords will follow; thereby improving the quality of life for the individual residents as well as the neighborhood as a whole. This program has been a success since its inception in late 1993. This C.O.P. House will replace the house currently located at 1009 Davis Place.

Across the street: St. Catherine's H.S.

Wilbur Jones selling Viper's Lounge?

Wilbur Jones may be selling Viper's Lounge at 501 High St. The City Clerk told the city's public safety and licensing committee on June 23 that Jones told her he was selling the bar.

Jones had been requested to appear before the committee to discuss "recent incidents" at the bar. Jones did not appear at the meeting. According to the meeting's minutes: "The City Clerk informed the committee she had been in contact with Mr. Jones and he was intending to sell the estblishment and he had only paid for the publication fee."

Jones also owns Wilbur's BBQ on Sixth Street.

Committee votes to cut fees for Kiwanis baseball

The city's Personnel and Finance Committee voted this week to cut the fees the city charges Kiwanis baseball to use Horlick Field. The league would be charged $36 per game, or $55 if the lights are needed. Both are down from the standard fee of $176 to use the field.

Ald. Sandy Weidner and Ald. Ron Hart appeared before the committee on behalf of Kiwanis. They said there should be no charge for youth to play baseball in Racine. They argued the $176 fee would drive people away from Horlick Field, and even Racine.

The reduced fee now goes to the full City Council for final approval.

Property Transfers: Total 24 sells for $1.2 million

The Total 24 gas station at 930 Washington Ave. was sold twice this past month. It's not clear from the documents what transpired. What is clear is that the gas station and convenience store sold for $1 million and again for $1.2 million on June 17.

Bulk Petroleum Corp transfered the property to Mohammad Maqbool, and Maqbool then transfered the business to NYS Alliance Inc., which then moved the property to Syed Makhails Inc. To further complicate matters, Syed Makhails Inc. then granted a mortgage note to American Enterprise Bank, and Bulk Petroleum Corp filed a "Satisfaction" with Daya Sing and Gurdial Inc.

Based on the records, it appears the gas station was sold twice and ended up with Syed Makhails Inc. What's not clear is what this means for the occassionally troubled establishment. I covered a murder at Total 24 a few years back, and the gas station was forced to cut its hours in recent years. If anyone has insight on this transaction, please get in touch.

And here's one more interesting detail: The property was assessed at $710,000 in 2007.

Here's all of the property transfers from last week.

June 24, 2008

What a difference a day makes at Festival Hall

Jim Walczak with structure of Festival Hall's new clearspan

Update, 6/25: One day of uncertainty gave way to quick work this morning, as the framework of Festival Hall's new clearspan tent structure went up. Later today, the canvas covering will be put in place. Below, yesterday's original post.

Blame the poet Robert Burns, who warned us 200 years ago, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley."

Or maybe it was just Murphy's Law -- "If anything can go wrong, it will." -- in action this morning at Festival Hall, where Civic Centre executive director Jim Walczak hoped to erect his new fabric-covered building this morning, to replace the old tent. (Our earlier story is HERE.)

Everything was in place: the new metal building frame, 66' wide by 115' long was laid out on the old ice rink. Men and equipment to erect it were ready; sparkling white canvas to cover it was alongside. And then Murphy and Burns took over.

The first holes drilled into the concrete to fasten the building's support posts produced cracks. It was clear to all that a new plan was needed.

After conferring, Walczak, Jerry Lopez, Festival Hall operations manager, and Kenny Francis, Mahaffey Tent's installation supervisor, decided to shift the location of the tent a few feet west. That simple move will shift the tent supports -- and those holes drilled into the concrete -- from an unstable concrete footing around the former ice rink and into the much more stable, six-inch thick concrete that makes up the ice rink itself. On the west side, the holes would also be moved away from the footings. Test borings worked without any cracking.

Problem solved? Not sure at this point. Al Kosterman, City Building Inspector, and Paul Beard, Department of Public Works overseer of the Civic Center, are examining the specifications of the Rawl expansion fittings -- think of the plastic expansion sleeve you drill into drywall to hold shelves and then scale it up a few hundred percent and make it out of stainless steel -- to make sure they will hold the permanent building supports safely.

One way or another, Walczak will get something installed over the ice rink today or tomorrow. He's got a wedding scheduled there on Saturday.

What now? Beard, Walczak, Francis, Kosterman and Lopez, l-r

By late afternoon, all was well. The city approved moving the tent and using the supplied bolts and expansion sleeves in the ice rink cement. Support posts were being installed, and the clear-span building itself was expected to be erected Wednesday.

Correction: We initially identified Paul Beard as Bill Miller, also of the Department of DPW.

United Way offices hit hard by flood

United Way of Racine County, located on the first floor of the Lincoln Building at 2000 Domanik Drive along the Root River, appears to be the only business in the county seriously affected by the flooding in Racine last week. The offices sustained extensive damage when the river reached record levels and flooded the Lincoln Park, Island Park and Spring Street areas of Racine. (See picture HERE.)

Carpeting, tile and dry wall in the offices all must be replaced, and many pieces of office furniture will be discarded. “We expect it will be four to six weeks before we can return to our space.” said Dave Maurer, United Way executive director.

Lincoln Lutheran gave United Way temporary space on the fourth floor. “This allows us to be nearly fully operational with these office and meeting areas. Staff have continued with meetings and events as scheduled for the most part and kept up with email communications,” Maurer said. With the phone system back in place, staff can now be reached by leaving voicemail messages.

United Way has been in contact with the American Red Cross and other emergency services and is planning to offer ongoing basic needs assistance to Racine County residents who have suffered flood damage when those other resources have expired. “While we have some operational disruption, we anticipate the longer term needs of some families will require our support and we will be there to help as we were with Katrina victims who landed in Racine a few years ago,” said Maurer. “Some flood victims are our neighbors down the street.”

n addition to gratitude for the support provided by Lincoln Lutheran and their staff, United Way extended thanks to Great Northern, Merchants Moving and Storage and Home Depot for the quick responses.

Here's a United Way directory for anyone needing to reach the staff:

Executive Director, David Maurer, 635-7499 x-119, davemaurer@unitedwayracine.org

Community Impact Director, Susan Gould, 635-7499 x-111, sgould@unitedwayracine.org

Finance and Administration Director, Barbara Jopke, 635-7499 x-113, bjopke@unitedwayracine.org

Resource Development Director, Tracy Nielsen, 635-7499 x-118, tnielsen@unitedwayracine.org

Communications Director, Lisa Koenen, 635-7499 x-117, lkoenen@unitedwayracine.org

Community Impact Manager, Tiffani Pinkerton, 635-7499 x 120, tpinkerton@unitedwayracine.org

AFL-CIO Liaison/Community Services Director, Ron Thomas, 635-7499 x-112, ronthomas@unitedwayracine.org

Community Impact Associate, Michelle Brown, 635-7499 x-121, mbrown@unitedwayracine.org

Community Impact Associate, Marie Hargrove, 635-7499 x-115, mhargrove@unitedwayracine.org

Community Impact Associate, MaryBeth Kallio, 635-7499 x-114, mkallio@unitedwayracine.org

Western Racine County Liaison, Doug Farrell, 492-3108, dgf517@idcnet.com

Unified's test scores show ... what exactly?

Sigh. Call me lazy, but I'm not even going to try and decipher the "Adequate Yearly Progress" results Unified put out this morning. Our friends at the JT take a shot at it, but I'm not so brave. Truth is: These numbers mean nothing. When one of the main criteria is how many people took a test (the schools actually have incentives to get kids to come to school on test days so they can meet this mark), it's hard to take the results seriously.

I'm all for measuring results in school, especially if those results can pinpoint teachers, students and administrators who are doing a good (or bad) job. There are educators in Unified who know how to reach kids and actually teach them something. But how do we identify these people? The numbers now are so vague and confusing that teachers and schools come across as equals - and no improvement is made.

Let's use the numbers to identify our professional educators who are making a difference, and celebrate these people as community leaders. It'd be a lot better than jargony mess that passes for accountability under the current system.

Don't believe me? Here's Unified's full release on the Adequate Yearly Progress numbers:

Date: June 24, 2008
To: Dr. Jackson Parker, Interim Superintendent
Board of Education
News Media
From: Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Stephen Miller, Director of Standards, Assessment, and Accountability
Subject: AYP – Media Information

Earlier this month, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) provided Preliminary Annual Reviews of School Performance which included RUSD schools that did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward state-established benchmarks for the 2007-2008 school year. A summary of these results is provided in the following narrative.

Annual Review of School Performance
The Annual Review of School Performance is based on requirements in four areas.

1) Test Participation – A minimum of 95% of enrolled students must participate in the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam Criterion-Referenced Test (WKCE-CRT) and/or the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD).

2) Other Academic Indicator - Attendance rates of at least 85% for elementary and middle schools or graduation rates of at least 80% for high schools or growth from the prior year must be achieved.

3) Reading Proficiency Index – A proficiency index score of at least 74% (increased from the requirement of 67.5% last year) must be attained.

4) Math Proficiency Index – A proficiency index of at least 58% (increased from the requirement of 47.5% last year) must be attained.

Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools as a whole (all tested grades) are held accountable for student performance in nine subgroups: All Students, each of five major racial/ethnic categories (American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, and White), English Language Learners (ELL), Students with Disabilities, and Economically Disadvantaged students. For AYP purposes, the minimum number of students in a subgroup needed to make valid accountability decisions for schools or districts is defined as 40. Most large, diverse schools and districts such as those in Racine will have adequate student numbers across all subgroups, thereby increasing the challenge of meeting AYP for all schools and for the district.

A school will miss AYP for an objective if one or more student subgroups meet
minimum cell size and fail to meet the AYP criterion for that objective. Failing to meet Department of Standards, Assessment, and Accountability AYP in the same objective for two or more consecutive years will result in designation as a School Identified for Improvement (SIFI). If a SIFI school meets the criterion in the following year, the school is designated as Improved. If the school meets the objective for a second year, it is designated Satisfactory.

Districts are evaluated for AYP at each of the three grade spans in which they have tested grades: Elementary (3-5), Middle (6-8) and High School (10). In order to be designated a District Identified for Improvement (DIFI) a district must miss the same objective at all relevant grade spans for two consecutive years.

Schools and districts that receive Title I funds are subject to sanctions for failing to meet AYP for two or more consecutive years. Sanctions may include school improvement plans (this is already a requirement for all RUSD schools as stipulated by the Quality Management System), corrective action, and restructuring. No school in RUSD is included in this sanctioned group at the present time nor is the district as a whole.

2007-2008 AYP Performance of RUSD Schools
RUSD schools that did not make AYP in 2007-2008 include the following.

. Wadewitz Elementary School missed AYP in reading and math while Goodland and Knapp Elementary Schools missed in only math. All three schools missed AYP only this year and are designated Satisfactory. All three schools are Title I schools but have only missed AYP for one year. Therefore, no Title I sanctions apply.

. Jerstad-Agerholm Middle School missed AYP in math and Mitchell Middle School missed AYP in reading. Both schools missed AYP only this year and are designated Satisfactory. These schools have Title I seventh grades but no sanctions will yet apply.

. McKinley Middle School, as well as Horlick, Park and Case High Schools, are
designated SIFI because they missed AYP in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. In 2007-2008, McKinley missed AYP in math; Horlick missed in math but met AYP in reading and graduation rate; and, Park missed in reading, math and test participation, but met AYP in graduation rate. These schools are designated SIFI Level 2. Case met AYP in all areas and is designated SIFI Level 1 Improved.

. Gilmore Middle School missed AYP in 2006-2007 but met it in 2007-2008 and is therefore designated Satisfactory.

. Racine Unified School District missed AYP at each grade span. Because this is the first year of not meeting AYP at the district level, RUSD is currently designated

Notable Points
Steve Miller, Director of Standards, Assessment, and Accountability, said, “The staff of Case High School are to be commended for meeting AYP in all areas. There are approximately twenty-eight ways in which a school can miss AYP and only one way they can make it – through a focused, collaborative effort of all staff with student success as the goal. Gilmore Middle School staff are also to be commended for meeting AYP this year after missing it last year.”

Area Superintendents, working with central office support staff, will reallocate staff and fiscal resources in support of academic improvement. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Chief Academic Officer, shared that, “This effort could include local collegiate resources such as student tutors and opportunities for involvement by early field experience students.”

Secondary Transformation efforts will lead during the coming school year to the
development of building-level transformation teams at Park and Horlick High Schools.

Progress has already been made toward better meeting the learning needs of students with disabilities through the ongoing work of the Special Education Task Force, as recommended by the Independent Commission on Education and as stipulated by a Quality Management System Improvement Action.

Last year’s efforts in support of improving constructed response item performance, short essays required as part of the WKCE-CRT, will continue; and, the district has implemented short-cycle assessments in reading and math which model WKCE test appearance and content in anticipation of the next state test administration in November.

A structured data retreat approach to facilitate uniform use of data for school
improvement across all schools, following a model developed by CESA 7, will be
required of all building leaders in the coming school year. Training for school leaders in this process will begin in July and continue with school teams in August.

June 22, 2008


View from the top of the big yellow slide

Greek Fest is much more than great food, good music and carnival rides -- but you couldn't prove it by us.

We stopped out at the festival of the Kimissis Greek Orthodox Church this weekend for our annual "fix" of authentic Baklava and Saganaki (flaming cheese, to you). And lamb, chicken, shishkebob, falafel ... and let's not forget the honey puffs.

Cannot forget the honey puffs. Made right before your eyes. Six for $3 or just $5 for a Baker's Dozen. The problem with the larger order is that I'd eat them all, so I try to exert a little willpower up front, before biting down on my first honey puff. Yum!

Hundreds of volunteers cook for weeks to prepare for the annual fundraising event. And this year their efforts were well-rewarded, with mostly wonderful weather.

Here are some shots from Sunday, before the short afternoon rain. Any sticky fingerprints are not my fault; blame 'em on the honey puffs.

Tilt-a-Whirl is always a crowd-pleaser

They don't call it 'flaming cheese' for nothing...

Enough chicken for ya?

Making those delicious honey puffs


I want to dance like the big kids

It's none of my business, but ...

As far as I know, there's nothing illegal going on here. The little boy sandwiched between Mom and Dad (spotted in Racine Sunday) is wearing a helmet, as required by Wisconsin law for all motorcycle operators and passengers under age 18.

Still, Mom in her flipflops, shorts, sleveless top and no helmet; and Dad also in shorts and t-shirt, no gloves, no helmet are, at the very least, setting a poor example and endangering themselves.

And, of course, are those Honda Shadows even designed for three people? We thought whole families only rode that way in the Third World.

You motorcyclists out there ... what do you think?

Update, 6/27:
Can't imagine why I didn't think to ask a cop about this long ago! Here's the response I got from Sgt. Bernie Kupper of the Racine Police Dept.:
This is an easy one. Under two parts of the same statute, this would be wrong.

“No passenger may ride a Type 1 motorcycle who, when properly seated, cannot rest the feet on assigned foot rests or pegs.”

“No more than 2 persons may ride on a motorcycle having 2 wheels in tandem during operation unless a sidecar has been attached to the motorcycle as provided in s.340.01(32)(a)1 and the additional passengers are provided with adequate seating in the sidecar.”

In the City of Racine, the fine would be $109 and no points for each of the two violations, but probably would write one or the other. The statute provides for a fine of up to $186 depending on whether the citation is written by city, village, county, or state.

Unexpected faces on the Lighthouse Run course...

Update: Here's an inspiring story from Lighthouse Run. Carrie, from Racine, has lost nearly 100 pounds in the past year. Here's how she did it.

Scrolling through the Lighthouse Run results (HERE), one finds lots of familiar (or almost familiar) names -- folks we wouldn't necessarily expect to find on a racecourse.

We saw a few city officials before the race, and looked up their times after it. Below are Ben Hughes, Racine City administrator, the only city official we spotted who ran the 10-mile course. (Please let us know who we missed!) He's standing with Q.A. Shakour II, District 8 alderman since 2004, who ran the four-mile.

Benjamin Hughes, 36, 10-mile time: 1:19:43.8;
Q.A. Shakour II, 54, 4-mile time: 36:20.8

Police Chief Kurt Wahlen also ran the four-mile run.

Kurt Wahlen, 52, 4-mile time: 39:24.0

Then we ran into Sen. John Lehman near the finish line, who quickly disabused us of the notion that he had run. He was there to support his wife, Cathy, who ran the 10-mile race -- her first -- in honor of a relative coping with a brain tumor.

Catherine Lehman, 53, 10-mile time: 1:42:44.8

A couple of other names jumped out: Dave Maurer, 57, executive director of the Racine County United Way, completed the 4-mile run in 37:19.5; and Alan Ruud, 61, founder of Ruud Lighting, completed it in 35:48.8.

Congratulations all around!

Our awe, however, is reserved for some folks we've never met. For example, Nancy Spencer, age 69, of Berlin, WI, ran the 10-mile course in 1:46:52.4. And seven men over the age of 70 also completed the 10-mile run. The oldest was Paul Gionfriddo, 85, of Muskego, WI, who ran the 10 miles in 2:01:04.5. Not far behind was Jim Morrison, 79, of Racine, who ran it in 2:15:43. A Kenosha septuagenarian, Joe Paleczny, 79, completed it in 1:42:08.1.

And, no, those ages are not typos: 85 and 79. Wow!

Our other pictures from the Lighthouse Run are HERE.