The June 10 school board meeting was unusual.
During public participation, school district resident Chuck Jackson spoke about public participation at board meetings.
Jackson said he followed the policy and asked to be put on the agenda to talk about policy.
Jackson was not put on the agenda and said he did not receive a response. Instead, policy committee chairman Tom Westrick, who received an inquiry from school board member Brian Kvapil about the matter, told Kvapil by email that the investigation relating to the use of stipends is ongoing. (Baker Tilly is performing a financial audit of stipends.)
A recent investigation suggests there should be a review of policy (though not necessarily all policies) and the district has in recent years been working to update its policies with the assistance of a consultant (Neola).
A March 20 supplemental investigation report by Attorney Lori Lubinsky specifically recommended looking at how the school district keeps minutes, amends contracts, presents and executes contracts, addresses unused vacation and provides additional compensation (stipends).
Jackson expressed frustration: “Who, when, how should I have been responded to?”
He said policy doesn’t address those questions about public participation inquiries. He said he wanted to have a conversation to suggest an ad hoc committee.
“If the district truly wants to move forward, it needs to open, embrace and be willing to utilize any and all community members who are willing to offer assistance,” Jackson said.
Jackson remained at the podium to talk about a donation ($7,000) from his Milton business, Handy Art, which he said has been providing the district with paint and fluid art materials to the school district for 30 years. As he was speaking, he hesitated, as if possibly he might take back that donation.
Instead, he suggested the board invite Milton High School art teacher Doua Vue to speak at a school board meeting and learn more about the painted tiles on the ceiling of Milton High School.
Superintendent Tim Schigur, who is leaving at the end of the month and also spoke from the podium, thanked the school district community for welcoming him 12 years ago.
He thanked many, including the chamber of commerce, the city and other community members and organizations with whom he has had the privilege of working to increase opportunities for students. He asked school board members who hired him in 2013 to be present Monday. All but Janet Green were able to attend.
“I want to say a special in-person thank you,” he said. “In 2000, Marquette University took a chance on a young intercity kid from Chicago.”
He was referring to Dwyane Wade, who when he left Marquette as one of its most decorated athletes, was drafted fifth overall by the Miami Heat in the 2003 NBA Draft, the highest-ever drafted MU athlete.
“During his time at Marquette, Dwyane developed a deeper understanding of how to use his time and talent to help others. His time on campus, like mine a decade earlier, became the foundation for a life of community service and putting others first.”
Schigur then showed a video tribute to Wade.
In the video, people presented jackets and jerseys to Wade to show their appreciation for his impact on their lives.
Turning to school board members, Schigur said, “Your decision completely changed the course of my life. I do not have a jersey to give you today but I do want you to know how appreciative I have been to serve the school district community in this capacity.”
His gifts to board members who hired him included a poster signed by magician Rick Wilcox, “to remind you of the awesome, eventful journey these last six years have been and how you have allowed me, along with the administrative team, to provide awesome and magical experiences on a regular basis for others beginning with the first August staff welcome back celebration.”
“There are items in the orange bag, including the orange bag, that represent our Milton family coming together to develop one identity as a school community. We are now all Red Hawks 4K-12.”
Orange was the color of the anti-bullying campaign that Schigur was involved in as part of the Milton Youth Coalition. An autographed Wade photo he said was to remind them of the Marquette alum they hired him 6 years ago as superintendent.
To the current board, Schigur said: “I ask that you look inward and discover the areas and topics that bring you together, not expand upon what separates you. Having different opinions and pathways is beneficial to the organization. As long as we have the same end-goal in mind that is clearly defined: the kids. Only as a cohesive team of seven acting as one can you work to be the difference. Moving forward, please be the difference in the opportunity, achievement and community for the 3,500 angels that you are elected to the school board to serve every day.”
His remarks were met with a standing ovation.
Some people had tears and were impacted by the video, the thought of Schigur leaving or both.
Others didn’t get it. They wondered what a Marquette basketball player had to do with Milton and why a video was being shown during a school board meeting.
Both Jackson and Schigur spoke from their hearts and in their own way were giving.
Before the vouchers were approved 6-1, Kvapil, who voted no, questioned $4,500 in excess copies, a $4,650 trip to the Kalahari (a field trip) and $5,000 to Rick Wilcox theater (end-of-year program). Wilcox, who has a theater in Wisconsin Dells, did a show for school district employees at the high school.
“It was a way to celebrate the year,” Schigur said.
When questioned about spending $5,000 on a magician, Schigur said $5,000 was spent on a celebration. Schigur said awards and medals were left over from previous years.
Westrick said previously Olympian Lindsey Vonn was brought in. At what cost, he said he did not know.
Commenting on the magician, Kvapil said, “I think there’s better ways you can show appreciation and recognition to the staff.”
Schigur said, “When we talk about the end-of-the year celebration, offering input is available. The other thing is what the ROI (return on investment) is on positive culture.”
Schigur added that he owned that discussion.
Kvapil said employees would have rather split the $5,000.
School board member Diamond McKenna said, “I don’t think that’s a fair statement in the mouths of our staffs.”
Magicians generally cost money. It’s unusual that their value is debated at a school board meeting.
Next year we should invite a magician to a school board meeting.
Now that would be unusual and a little magic could be good.