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Clearing the air on Three Lakes School Board PDF Print E-mail

Letter to the Editor:

The recent election brought capable and talented newcomers into community leadership in Three Lakes and the school district.

I was replaced, but am confident that my successor will do an excellent job and I wish her nothing but the best. I can now speak without ramifications to the school district. During this past election, statements were made and written that obviously were made without much research.

Information Dr. George Karling prepared and presented was the same as for previous referendums. Three Lakes School District has declining enrollment. Levy limits are attached to enrollment under state funding structure. Current school taxes are less than eight years ago. The state funding problem has not changed for years, so why should the story?

The board needs to be shaken up because they have no new ideas. Board goals promoted multiple initiatives reducing taxes while increasing student accomplishment. The student ACT score of 23.9 is highest in northern region. Positive results are because good changes have been implemented and changes for the sake of change have not.

The board needs to balance pay raises with teachers’ needs. The current staff compensation agreement is the result of excellent cooperation from staff that recognizes student needs, understands the funding situation and respects taxpayers. They made certain sacrifices, but still have a very good benefit and compensation package unlike many other districts. Staff should be commended for their cooperative attitude and understanding of the big picture.

Classroom budgets for materials and technology is lacking. The current blended-learning initiative is providing a personal computer for every fifth through 12th grader. I do not recall one situation where staff has been handicapped by inadequate supplies or equipment, especially in technology.

The board failed to address safety issues regarding football and soccer. Implementation of eight-man football was driven out of concern for safety. The board is always cognizant of safety relative to all aspects of operations.

The district doesn’t have any advanced placement (AP) courses. Results trump the structure of the curriculum. Three Lakes students lead CESA-9 region in ACT scores, which has districts like Wausau and D.C. Everest with many AP courses. The staff does something right that works in teaching our kids how to learn beyond the limitations of the structured environment. There are few restrictions on student access to higher challenges available through multiple outside resources.

Dr. Karling is highly respected statewide by his peers and is one of the best bargains in the state. What he saves the district being a licensed attorney and certified business manager covers much of his compensation. He has an extraordinary ability to stretch dollars to the utmost benefit of the district. As a Nicolet College Board member, he was directly responsible for changing insurance carriers saving over $650,000 the first year. A similar insurance change he negotiated saved our school district taxpayers over $250,000 the first year. His 24 years of service has provided creative guidance, continuity and proven leadership. He is worth every penny he earns.

Our students are provided one of the best educational opportunities available in the area. Community leaders must focus on increasing the economic base of the community, retaining some of these talented individuals and turning the school enrollment trend upward.

One recent candidate criticized the current board and administration, yet has never attended a board meeting during my six-year tenure. All residents should attend board meetings to better understand the workings and needs of the district. Get involved, ask questions, talk to your board members. There is nothing worse than apathy and that is the biggest problem I have seen.

John Olkowski Jr.

Three Lakes

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 2:22 PM

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