June 17, 2019 – West Bend, WI – There was a presentation Monday, June 17 at the West Bend School Board meeting as a community group stepped up to complete a facilities study in the West Bend School District. The Task Force is led by West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, West Bend Mutual Insurance CEO Kevin Steiner and Tim Schmidt of Delta Defense.
Topic and Background from WBSD Superintendent Don Kirkegaard: In May I had a discussion with three individuals from the community: Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, Kevin Steiner/West Bend Mutual Insurance, and Tim Schmidt/Delta Defense that are forming a committee to look at our facilities. They have asked to have access to our facilities and have an opportunity to visit with Mr. Ross to discuss projects that have been completed, as well as projects that are being planned.
There is no district involvement with the committee.
They will submit a report to the Board in September and/or October. The Board can use all of or part of the information as the Board determines future facilities’ improvements.
The committee is not authorized by the Board or the Superintendent. The report will be informational only with the Board being responsible to make any and all decisions.
Board member Joel Ongert: “Are you off and running with this Task Force? Do you have a group of individuals in mind?”
Kevin Steiner: “The committee has been chosen so it’s construction experts, facility management, communication experts and so it’s really a diverse group of people and we have met and they’re on board and anxious to get going.”
Tim Schmidt: “In terms of messaging it’s very important to us and all the folks on this team that we want people to understand we’re supporting you; we’re working to support the school board.”
Board member Nancy Justman: “I heard you spoke of Jackson and the high school… but I wonder if there’s any opportunity to take a look and include in your time and study the other elementary schools. We’re looking at everything on a whole and the community is coming together on this one and can you look at those schools as well.” ((West Bend also has Decorah Elementary, McLane Elementary and Green Tree Elementary))
Steiner: “This group is very willing and perhaps it’s a conversation we could have with the group as we go forward. We’d like to demonstrate this is helpful and still allow you to do your job and so certainly we thought Jackson and the high school is a good way to start but there are opportunities to move beyond that.”
Schmidt: “It’s critical that we address this from a clean-slate mentality. We don’t like to use the April referendum as some starting point but rather wipe the slate clean and figure out from our perspective what we think.”
Steiner: “There are actual committee members that have worked with Mr. Ross (WBSD facilities director) in the past on the long-range plans so there is some knowledge from this group who perhaps also bring some expertise to see how far we’ve come.”
Board member Kurt Rebholz: “It’s eye opening to go through some of these facilities; we have equipment from 1940s and ’50s.”
Board member Paul Fischer: “I’m interested in the scope of the findings. Is it more infrastructure and plant related or will you get into areas like library modifications and without making recommendations will you include potentially include findings such as, this is outdated in terms of instructional type situation or is the focus on more of the physical plan itself.”
Tim Schmidt: “It’s my understanding we won’t look into instructional anything.”
Board member Chris Zwygart: “It’s important this board maximize this group’s independence. If you can confirm none of the board members are participating on the committee and no district employees.”
Schmidt and Steiner confirm.
Ongert: “We’re not paying you to do this. What are our resources, Dave Ross, access to buildings…. ”
Superintendent Kirkegaard: “We’ll provide any information you need, we’ll give you access to the buildings. One of the things in the referendum people talked about was that when you had the architects telling you to do X and for all the dollars you spend the architects get additional money because they get a percentage. Or you had the builders tell you to do X and they become the contractor. This really does provide an opportunity, not for an outside recommendation, but they have no vested interest other than they want to do what’s best for our community and our school.”
After the meeting Task Force Chairman Kraig Sadownikow submitted the following comment.
CEO’s Kevin Steiner of West Bend Mutual and Tim Schmidt of Delta Defense are pleased to announce their organizations’ financial support for a private task force that will provide independent findings relative to the long-term sustainability and capital improvements at Jackson Elementary and the West Bend High Schools. A referendum failed to gain taxpayer support in April of 2019. The referendum targeted enhancements at the West Bend High Schools as well as the construction of a new K-4 elementary school in Jackson. “The referendum showed that our community is divided on whether these investments are necessary. The Task Force will take a fresh, independent look at the needs of the district and will share findings with the school board. I applaud all the members of the Task Force for stepping up and taking action to help bring our community together around this issue,” said Steiner.
The West Bend School District Private Task Force is not a publicly created committee. Rather, it is a private collection of concerned taxpayers. Schmidt noted, “The voters in the District spoke loud and clear. They were uncomfortable with the April referendum question. Delta Defense works hard at attracting more and more families to join our team and move to West Bend. Having strong, competitive schools is critical in this effort. I’m excited to dig in and find an efficient and responsible solution for West Bend schools.”
“We live in a very intelligent and generous community whose citizens rally around causes while being careful to thoroughly analyze efforts and projects prior to supporting them,” stated City of West Bend Mayor and businessman Kraig Sadownikow. “The purpose behind this independent task force is to offer the School Board and district taxpayers an unbiased, educated opinion regarding the potential needs in Jackson and at the High Schools.” Sadownikow is also Chairman of the Task Force.
Task Force members were chosen based on their construction, facilities management, and communication expertise. They will tour schools, investigate alternative solutions to current challenges, validate current needs, and report findings to the West Bend School Board in October of 2019. According to Sadownikow, Task Force members are committed to asking questions that have never been asked before and to communicate openly, consistently, and independently. Zimmerman Architectural Studios has been retained by the Task Force and will offer consultation pertaining to facility best practices in the education environment.
“We do not expect to make recommendations to the School Board. Instead, we will present findings within the context of the District’s long-range improvement plan,” Sadownikow said. He added, “the School Board was elected to make decisions. With that in mind, we will offer our independent thoughts and findings, allowing the School Board to draw their own conclusions and take action accordingly.”
For additional information on the West Bend School District Private Task Force contact Kraig Sadownikow at www.teamacs.net.