Lame duck session of our Milton School Board needs evaluation with lame duck board member Don Vruwink continuing to vote despite not having stood for re-election to approve the controversial $10,500 stipend for the Administrator. I object!

Back in December 2018, there was an outrage about the lame duck session of our WI legislature which I decried in my WE THE PEOPLE column on December 7, “John W. Eyster: Shocked by laws passed by lame duck legislative session.”

Assembly member Don Vruwink joined WI citizens who decried the lame duck session after our November, 2018 election when the WI GOP sought to limit the powers of the newly elected state officers, including the Governor. I totally agreed with him!

Now, however, what about Don Vruwink’s use of his lame duck status on our Milton School Board to vote as the board moves ahead to get things wrapped up before the Board reorganizes on Monday, April 22 with the seating of new board members Rick Mullen and re-elected Mike Pierce. The board will elect its officers too. I urge citizens to review the fact that the board not only held the usual & customary post-election meeting. But a Special Board Meeting on Monday, April 15.

The board met on Monday, April 8, after the special meeting of electors. During that meeting, the board voted to approve the controversial $10,500. stipend which Board President Westrick had approved without board action. I note that the vote was 4 – 3 with board members, Mike Pierce (newly re-elected), Brian Kvapil and Karen Hall opposed. Those voting in favor were lame duck board member Don Vruwink along with Board President Tom Westrick, Joe Martin and Diamond McKenna. IF Don Vruwink had abstained from voting, the 3-3 vote would have defeated the stipend approval. This would allow review of the stipend with the re-organized board during or after its organizational meeting next Monday, April 22. WHY NOT? What was the rush, Don Vruwink?

While the board moved immediately to approve the controversial stipend, it postponed action on other agenda items pending opportunity to understand the administration’s recommendations carefully. But then a Special Board Meeting last Monday, April 15, acted on hiring an “owner’s rep” and the parameters of an “audit plan,” as reported in the Janesville Gazette on Tuesday, April 16, by Ashley McCallum. Why the rush on setting up the audit before organizational meeting?

I am very much concerned about the administration’s recommendation to keep control of finances within the tight group of administrators. I suggest that readers go to this week’s Edgerton Reporter to gain more information with perspective thanks to Jeff Brown’s article, “Stipends leave biz official ‘speechless’.” I subscribe to the Edgerton Reporter as well as to the Milton Courier and Janesville Gazette. The Edgerton Reporter is available online only for subscribers unfortunately. If I get time, I’ll add quotes from the Reporter article as comments. They are incisive!

Again, I hope the Milton School Board will move ahead to a different future with a different President. I know from our discussions during the election campaign, many of us – voters and taxpayers in the school district of Milton – are banking on Mike Pierce and Rick Mullen. Time will tell...

When the Board organizes on Monday, April 22 (Earth Day), there are several very significant actions which WE THE PEOPLE (taxpayers and voters) of the Milton School District need to watch:

1. Election of the Board officers = President, Vice-President, Clerk and Treasurer. I hope the board will vote for a difference President for the sake of transparency.

2. Set-up special review of the District Administrator to consider cancelling the contract with Dr. Tim Schigur. WE THE PEOPLE of Milton School District need an honest and transparent administrator to lead the management of the $59.9 million we have “given” to the district through the referendum.

3. The Board should hire an OBJECTIVE law firm to investigate the financial manipulation and its disclosure. As I asserted in my WE THE PEOPLE column (Tuesday, March 26, 2019), “Lack of transparency in Milton unacceptable,” the investigation report is biased to protect the Board and District Administration. The Investigation report with comments is available online on the Milton School District website.

I continue to hope for resignations to facilitate the TRUST that WE THE PEOPLE can have in our School District of Milton. Your comments will be significant. I’ll be reading!

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John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS) and WI Academic Decathlon. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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