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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

No shadow of a doubt? Our groundhog predicts early spring

Just for fun!, TRAVEL, Weather

As my husband and I manned the snow blowers in the driveway last night, I did think this blizzard's silver lining might be that the groundhog would NOT see his shadow Wednesday morning.

Sure enough, Wynter, the Milwaukee County Zoo groundhog did NOT see her shadow this morning! Instead, she frolicked around in the snow a bit before going back into her den. Other groundhogs predicted the same--an early spring. I am all for that!

I couldn't help notice some other winter wonderland frolickers this morning. The kids down the street were literally diving head first into the snow banks, along with their pet Golden Retriever. Glad someone is enjoying the white stuff.

Me? I am thinking warm thoughts by planning a southern New Mexico and Arizona vacation. This will be new territory for us, and of course we want to see it all. Editing is never my strong suit: So many National Parks and Monuments...so little time.

Feel free to share your must see southern New Mexico and Arizona sites.

In the meantime, I hope our groundhog is right and we have an early spring.

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Brookfield's Dr. Scott Hardin, "From Fish to Amphibian, a Practical View" Tuesday, 7:30pm

Creation Science / Intelligent Design, Religion

Ever wonder how a fish could evolve into an amphibian? While they both begin their lives breathing through gills under water, the amphibians soon leave their tadpole days behind as they mature. They not only develop legs, they also develop air breathing lungs. Toads and salamanders go on to live on land near water, and frogs live primarily in the water with occasional trips to Terra firma. How could 2 such complicated anatomic changes occur by chance?

Dr. Scott Hardin will discuss this question in his presentation, "From Fish to Amphibian, a Practical View" at the Creation Science Society of Milwaukee meeting on Tuesday, February 8th, at 7:30pm. This meeting will be held at Grace Ev. Lutheran Church, N87 W16171 Kenwood Blvd., Menomonee Falls.

From the CSSM press release:
"A review will be made by Dr. Scott Hardin of some of the assertions made by proponents of the concept of evolution and he will challenge the validity of the same using acceptable laws of science, logic and common sense. Both evolutionist and creationists start with the statement, 'In the beginning...' It is what follows that creates divergent views."

"Dr. Scott's talk...will be about the anatomic changes that need to occur in order for the fish ancestor species to transform into the first amphibian, with special emphasis on the cardiopulmonary systems. He will explain that there is no way for the changes to occur from a genetic standpoint, and if there is no way for the fish ancestor organism to acquire the necessary DNA, then it is impossible for the fish to transform into an amphibian."

And it is that additional DNA code that presents the problem for evolutionists. Unlike Natural Selection that results in reducing the code, such as only long haired dogs* surviving in very cold climates (long haired dogs possessing less genetic information than the original wolf kind pair or even from a genetically mixed group of long, medium, and short haired dogs), adding legs and lungs to a fish means also adding vast amounts of complicated DNA coding.

I am looking forward to Dr. Hardin's talk. Dr. Hardin** presently is the Medical Director of Rehabilitation Services for St. Luke's Hospital and serves as Vice Chief of Staff 2010 - 2011, and then Chief of Staff 2012 - 2013.

Creation Science Society of Milwaukee

*Ken Ham gave this example at the Answers in Genesis Conference last weekend

**I was a patient of Dr. Hardin's several years ago.

Some readers might assume that I am trying to convince those of you who are atheist to believe in God. Although I would like to have all believe, this is not my goal, for no one convinces anyone to faith. My concern is for the believer who thinks the Bible is at odds with science. If these people take the time to educate themselves, they will find they do not have to check their brains at the door to believe in the Genesis account.

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Yippee! Packers overcome obstacles to win Super Bowl

Just for fun!, WISCONSIN, Special events

Who would have thought that the team that lost earlier this season to Detroit and only got in the playoffs via the wild card, would go on to win the Super Bowl? What a year it has been for our Packers. And then the Super Bowl game itself had a few obstacles. Greg Jennings sums up the game nicely.

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Here we go again, Elmbrook board discussing 4K tonight, topic at 7pm

Elmbrook, TAXES, Education, 4-K

That's right. At tonight's Elmbrook school board meeting, they will be discussing adding 4K...again. The meeting starts at 6pm with the 4K agenda item at 7pm: Four Year Old Kindergarten - February 8, 2011 Discussion. It is imperative the board hear from you if you are against adding 4K to our district, because you can be sure those in favor of 4K will be there tonight. Please come if you are able, or you may email your comments to the board. The board is to decide on 4K at their Feb. 22nd meeting.

A pro-4K email has crossed my path. To quote: "It is crucial for the Board to hear our voices in support of 4K before the decision is made at February 22nd meeting. 4K has a real possibility of passing this time, but the Board members need to see a packed room and hear our comments..."

The email then gives a number of statistics that I question. One being the survey taken at polling places on November 2nd, where Voters were asked to state their position on closing a school, more non resident students, and adding 4K to close the budget gap. There was no explanation given that 4K would be increasing the Elmbrook budget by increasing our taxes!

The general public doesn't always understand that when the district talks about increasing revenue, it really means higher taxes*. "According to the district, taxes for the owner of a $300,000 home would increase by $34 for 2011-12, $66 for 2012-13, $97 for 2013-14 and $104 for 2014-15 if K4 is implemented."

From the district's own Dec. 7, 2010 work session minutes: "...staffing costs will rise if 4K is added--therefore address salary/benefit concerns before adding 4K."

The Elmbrook School Board voted against 4K in 2007. So what is different with the board we have today vs. the board we had in 2007 when they voted 4K down? We still have Tom Gehl, Meg Wartman, Gary Jones, Glen Allgaier who were NO 4K votes. Bob Ziegler is the only surviving Yes vote. Jean Lambert and Kathryn Wilson have replaced Dave Marcello, a No vote, and Cherry Sylla, a Yes vote.

Has the information on academic achievement changed since 2007? At the time, Meg Wartman even wondered if Elmbrook ever assessed the difference all day 5K made in achievement in Elmbrook.

Well, now we do have our own "data" as Eileen Depka refers to it on how our pilot 4K-ers, now in 2nd grade, do compared to Elmbrook students who did not attend 4K. From what I have heard, on average, they have not done as well as students who only attended 5K. (If they did do better, do you really think you wouldn't have heard more about it by now?) All I could find was this sentence from the Dec. 14, 2010 board meeting minutes, "Eileen Depka presented non standardized assessment data from the current second grade class, many of whom participated in the District’s 4K pilot."

The board meeting starts tonight at 6pm with the 4K discussion at 7pm. As I understand it, people may comment at the Citizen's Forum early in the meeting. Or submit your comments via email.

Contact the Elmbrook School Board:
President Tom Gehl gehlt@elmbrookschools.org
Meg Wartman wartmanm@elmbrookschools.org
Glen Allgaier allgaieg@elmbrookschools.org
Gary Jones jonesg@elmbrookschools.org
Jean Lambert lambertj@elmbrookschools.org
Kathryn Wilson wilsonk@elmbrookschools.org
Robert Ziegler zieglerr@elmbrookschools.org

More reading: *School closing decision put off til fall, Feb 1, 2011

Past Posts: 4-K: The Dog Chasing its Tail Oct. 8, 2007 (Revised) Revenues collected "...would, however, cost the taxpayers more money, because it would be funded primarily from increased property taxes. The district would be allowed to collect more taxes due to its increased enrollment."
Does 4K Deserve Tax Dollars? Nov. 10, 2007
Uncle Matt Wants You--if you are 4 years old Nov. 14, 2007
4K--It's About the Money Nov. 21, 2007
Public Schools: Safety Net or Drift Net? Nov. 23, 2007
4K Solving Budget Woes = Lucy Ricardo Math Nov. 26, 2007
Bet Room Will Be Packed With Pro 4K Tonight Nov. 27, 2007
4K Yellow Hands and Green Trees Nov. 27, 2007
4K Discontinued Despite Emotions & Irregularities Nov. 28, 2007

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Judge David Prosser & Jeff Stone need your support Tuesday, Feb. 15

Conservatives, Elections, WISCONSIN

Be sure to read April 5, 2011 Judicial Ballot Picks: David Prosser & Lloyd Carter

Tuesday, February 15th, is Primary Election Day in Wisconsin, with one very important statewide Wisconsin Supreme Court race on the ballot. This is not an election we can afford to ignore, because there is only one conservative running, incumbent Judge David Prosser . The other 3 candidates are very liberal. The top two candidates will go on to the April election.



At present, our Wisconsin Supreme Court leans conservative with a 4/3 split, Prosser being one of the 4 conservatives on the bench. Each justice serves a 10 year term.

Judge David Prosser has been described as a "no-nonsense bipartisan who has strong conservative values and is devoted to the Constitution and the rule of law. He is a fair-minded and honest justice...a man of integrity who has participated in more than 900 published Supreme Court decisions. He comes with a great deal of judicial experience."

In fact, he is the only candidate with judicial experience. He is also the only pro-life candidate.

Waukesha County Sheriff Dan Trawicki, Waukesha DA Brad Schimel, and Milwaukee Sheriff David Clark (among others in law enforcement) endorse Judge Prosser.

Conservatives, you finally won back the governorship, the Assembly and the State Senate. It would be a shame to win those 2 branches of state government and then lose out because of a liberal court contesting all of their reforms and ruling many as "unconstitutional". (Remember the Tommy Thompson era?) As one supporter wrote, "Remember, liberals view constitutions as "living" documents...subject to their whims about what they 'feel' is right. Conservatives interpret constitutions on the basis of what the document actually says."

So get out there and vote on Tuesday, February 15th.

For Brookfield residents, Supreme Court Justice is the only race on our ballot. Miwaukee County residents not only select the Supreme Court Justice but also the Milwaukee County Executive. Out of all the candidates running, Jeff Stone is the only conservative. The others are liberals.

Re-elect Justice David Prosser
Prosser endorsement page
Judge David Prosser Wisconsin Court Information Page
Prosser a judge with integrity, honesty

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Love that lasts a lifetime, still holding hands at 90

Family, Holidays, Just for fun!

Today is Valentine's Day, a day that celebrates LOVE.

It is also a day that makes retailers happy if they happen to sell greeting cards, candy, flowers or jewelry! While those items might help show how much you care on February 14th, the other 364 days are equally, if not more, important.

Shortly after Christmas, I was privileged to witness a very dear couple (my aunt and uncle--both 90 years old) silently express their love for each other after nearly 65 years of marriage. My uncle was in the hospital and not expected to recover; my aunt was sitting next to him holding his hand. Our family was visiting.

There seemed to be something going on between them beyond just hand holding, which was touching in itself. They were playing the squeeze game: One party squeezes 4 times, the other answers with 3 squeezes, the reply is 2 squeezes, followed by a long squeeze answer.

Don't you know this? my aunt asked. We were clueless. No, we said. She joked Oh, you young people don't know everything and explained they had been doing this game for years--even before they were married.

This is the game:
Person 1 squeezes 4X, this asks the question, Do you love me?
The other person, Person 2, squeezes 3X in reply, Yes I do.
Then Person 1 squeezes 2X again to ask, How much?
The final answer from Person 2 comes in the form of 1 l-o-n-g, firm squeeze to say, THIS much.

They sat there and exchanged squeezes for quite some time as we chatted about the fun times we all had together.

The game was just a silly little thing, but it was special for them. I'm glad we were there to witness it. Their game showed that telling each other they loved each other was as normal for them as breathing.

You could tell the nurses thought they were a special couple too. One asked the secret to their nearly 65 years of marriage. Auntie said, Well, we put the Lord first, we're committed to each other--to being married... we love each other.

The book of Proverbs says, A friend loves at all times. And they have loved through good times and bad, through the ups and downs of marriage, a son's serious car accident and hospitalization, a granddaughters long recovery after being struck by lightening, 2 great grandchildren in neonatal ICU, my uncle's and their son's cancer, and financially challenging times. You know, life.

This dear couple would have been married 65 years this February, shortly before Valentine's Day. Unfortunately they didn't make that date; my uncle died the morning after our visit. But their love still lives on and will for eternity.

Be sure those you love know it today, and next time you hold hands with your sweetheart, maybe you want to introduce the squeeze game. XXXX, XXX, XX, X!


On Valentine's Day, Share the Word About the Benefits of Marriage.

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4K: $222 million a year and growing! Call Elmbrook School Board & Gov. Walker

4-K, Elmbrook, Education, TAXES, WISCONSIN

That is right. In Wisconsin, 4K costs taxpayers $222,000,000 a year. And if the D.P.I. has its way, that number will be increasing after their 4K recruitment effort.

I just got off the phone with Senator Glenn Grothman's office. His assistant urged concerned Wisconsinites to CALL the Governor to defund 4K in his budget.* Governor Scott Walker (608) 266-1212 govgeneral@wisconsin.gov

Taking state funding for 4K out of Wisconsin's budget would mean local districts would fund the entire cost of their 4K programs--no more state aid.

At the local level, presently, our Elmbrook School District does not have a 4K program. But our school board may vote on whether or not to begin a 4K program for the 2011-2012 school year at their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22nd, at the Central Administration Office, 13780 Hope Street, at 6pm. Please contact the board about this issue. (Info below)

According to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, the Governor's next budget will reduce the shared revenue the state pays out and cut the per pupil dollar amount given to local districts for each student enrolled. Hardly an incentive for adding new students to a new, unnecessary and ineffective program such as 4K.

Why do I say unnecessary and ineffective? Because like many other studies, Elmbrook's own internal study showed no difference in the achievement levels of 2nd grade students between children who went to Elmbrook's own pilot program 4K, those who attended private 4K, and those who had no 4K at all!

On top of all that, as one board member stated, the increase to Elmbrook's budget by starting a 4K program does not "make a significant impact" on the "overall budget shortfall". Remember Elmbrook School's budget increase is at Elmbrook TAXPAYER expense: "According to the district, taxes for the owner of a $300,000 home would increase by $34 for 2011-12, $66 for 2012-13, $97 for 2013-14 and $104 for 2014-15 if K4 is implemented." This would be at current state aid levels. If those levels are reduced, the cost for Elmbrook taxpayers would increase even more.

Combining the ineffectiveness of a 4K program, with that small financial gain to their budget , with the very real threat of decreasing state aids per pupil, makes voting against starting 4K in Elmbrook the only reasonable position. Contact the board.

*If defunding 4K doesn't make it into the Governor's February 22nd budget proposal, Senator Grothman will introduce defunding 4K in a stand alone bill.


Elmbrook School Board:
President Tom Gehl gehlt@elmbrookschools.org
Meg Wartman wartmanm@elmbrookschools.org
Glen Allgaier allgaieg@elmbrookschools.org
Gary Jones jonesg@elmbrookschools.org
Jean Lambert lambertj@elmbrookschools.org
Kathryn Wilson wilsonk@elmbrookschools.org
Robert Ziegler zieglerr@elmbrookschools.org

Residents split on K4.

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Shades of Mr. Popper's Penguins, meet Lala

Just for fun!, Family, Movies & Books, Pets, Weather

On a snowy day like today, wouldn't it be nice to have someone go to the store for you? Check this out.
 



As a child, I enjoyed reading Mr. Popper's Penguins. As a mother, I enjoyed reading it again to my son. The story held up well over the years; he thought it was a real hit too. (It is available at the Brookfield Library.) But never in my wildest dreams did I think anyone would ever have a penguin for a house pet! Yet there he is on YouTube.

Unlike Mr. Popper, who kept Captain Cook (his pet penguin) in a freezer, the Japanese family seems to have an air conditioned porch for their pet. I hope you caught that the family gave Lala his freedom after they rescued him and nursed him back to health, but he chose to stay with them. Don't you love his backpack?

By the way, the story of Mr. Popper's Penguins makes it to the big screen this summer, starring Jim Carrey. (Though I am not a Jim Carrey fan, I do like penguins.) The story has been changed some in that this Mr. Popper is a single businessman who inherits several penguins. Hope the movie version maintains the charm of the book. The preview pictures look cute.

In the meantime, stay warm.


Mr. Popper's Penguins book review
 

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Elmbrook School Board tonight: Action on petitioning neighboring subdivisions, DISCUSSION of 4K & maintenance budget

Elmbrook, TAXES

In case you didn't see this, the 4K vote was scheduled for tonight but was moved off the Agenda as an action item. The board will still discuss 4K tonight, however. The March 8th Agenda does include voting on 4K, but that could change too, I would think, depending on what happens in Madison regarding the State Budget.

One rather Deja Vu item on the agenda is 3D, E, F, & G. Neighboring subdivisions are petitioning Elmbrook to join our School District. Why do I say Deja Vu? Because we went through this in February of 2009: 64 from Waukesha petition to join Elmbrook schools: Why now? . The School Board accepted in 2009, Elmbrook board unanimously approves petition to join us the State later denied. At least one of the areas seems to be the same as the last time.

Also on the agenda for tonight is discussion on the Long Range Capital Maintenance Budget. That doesn't sound too exciting, but it is important. If you saw Capital needs outweigh funds, Long-term, larger projects put off, maybe you were as surprised as I was to read, (My emphasis)
"The district also has deferred $500,000 in repairs to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units and roofing at Brookfield Central and Brookfield East high schools. Miller [Elmbrook Facilities Director] said Central has $50,000 worth of urgent needs that will have to be addressed, and the facilities staff will know more once the snow clears off the roofs.

He said the district can patch some of the roofs as a stopgap measure, but improvements need to be done at both schools.

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What? Families who HAVE 4K petition to join Elmbrook WITHOUT 4K?

4-K, Elmbrook, Education, TAXES

How often do we hear that the Elmbrook School District NEEDS to implement 4K to protect our property values? I have even heard it from a school board member, but I don't believe it is true.

No, I don't believe providing 4K is a necessary expenditure for Elmbrook to make in order to attract home buyers to our district. It was obviously not considered a necessity for the 3 subdivisions petitioning Elmbrook last night, which is why I felt compelled to speak up at the School Board meeting.(Agenda items 3 D,E,F,G)

There I sat in an audience of about 20, listening to each women representing their subdivision pitch their plea to attach their homes to the Elmbrook School District. Naomi, the first speaker, representing the Black Forest, Summit Lawn, and southern edge of the Shire subdivisions, explained that others from their group were at the Waukesha School Board meeting petitioning for detachment.

She went on to say that of the 74 school age children in their area, the majority go to private school or to Elmbrook through open enrollment. I did remember that same statement being made at their last attempt to join the Elmbrook School District in 2009. She mentioned that they had petitioned Elmbrook before but were denied. Now their year cooling off period was over and they were trying again. Another woman named Jane then addressed the board; Maurene spoke for residents of Emerald Ridge. One of them mentioned they had been trying to get into Elmbrook for over 10 years.

Wow--10 years of trying to get into Elmbrook? It would have been simpler to just buy in Elmbrook, wouldn't it?

Then I noticed the pages of school districts with 4K in the packet of papers given to attendees. I was pretty sure Waukesha HAD 4K, but checked to verify. Sure enough, there on page 4A-8 Waukesha was listed as providing 4K.

So these 3 areas HAD 4K, but the parents chose to send the majority of their children either to private school or to Elmbrook that doesn't have 4K. Doesn't that say it all? I quickly filled out a request to speak. (FYI, the board unanimously approved these requests to join Elmbrook. This request must be approved by the state, however.)

There were 2 other speakers who chose to address the board before the 4K discussion began.

Nancy Kormanik, spoke against 4K, saying that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for a program that isn't mandatory. Kormanik, I found out, was a teacher at MATC.

Betsy, the 2nd speaker, talked about 4K not being a new program, that her children had 4K in Wauwatosa, then moved into Elmbrook the following year and had a repeat in our 5K. Here parting words were If you are going to compete, you have to have 4 year old kindergarten. (She wasn't exactly an example of no 4K lowering property values, since she did move into our district the next year.) I couldn't ask for a better set up to speak.

Stating the obvious that isn't so obvious

This was very off the cuff; my address went something like this: I agreed 4K wasn't new; I had 4K! But I didn't choose to move to Shorewood (where I had 4K) but chose Brookfield instead. I also mentioned that we are told--even by a school board member--that 4K is necessary to protect our property values, yet we have 3 living examples of people living in subdivisions, in a district that HAS 4K, petitioning to join a district that DOES NOT HAVE 4K! What matters is the quality of an Elmbrook education.

Incidentally, Mequon-Thiensville School District outscored us with its 25.9 composite score, as did West High in the Madison School District, also with 25.9. Why do I mention them? Because neither of them have 4K.

Later in the discussion, Tom Gehl cautioned about increasing the number of non-resident students just to fill our vacant elementary space. He hinted that there was a correlation between Elmbrook slipping from its #1 status in (ACT) test scores and the number of non-residents.

Jean "Lambert said she believes money would be better spent bolstering outcomes at the higher grades in preparation for post-graduation than at the elementary school level."

I couldn't agree more. So, please Elmbrook, concentrate on the things that matter, the quality of your product which is education, and leave day care where it belongs, in the private sector.

Contact the board:
Elmbrook School Board:
President Tom Gehl gehlt@elmbrookschools.org
Meg Wartman wartmanm@elmbrookschools.org
Glen Allgaier allgaieg@elmbrookschools.org
Gary Jones jonesg@elmbrookschools.org
Jean Lambert lambertj@elmbrookschools.org
Kathryn Wilson wilsonk@elmbrookschools.org
Robert Ziegler zieglerr@elmbrookschools.org

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