You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
top story
Milton School District, insurance company to pay resigning administrators $447,000


The Milton School District and its insurance company will pay $447,000 in severance pay and compensatory damages to two high-ranking administrators resigning in June.

School board President Joe Martin said in a statement that the district will pay less than $80,000 of that amount. The district’s insurance carrier will pay the rest.

Resignation agreements with augmentation

The amounts are contained in resignation agreements for Superintendent Tim Schigur and Director of Administrative Operations Jerry Schuetz obtained by The Gazette on Monday through Wisconsin’s open records law.

Schigur will receive $148,500 in severance pay over the course of one year beginning Aug. 1. He also will receive a lump-sum payment of $148,500 for “compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees,” according to his agreement.

Schuetz will be paid two lump sums of $75,000, one for severance and another for compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees, according to his agreement.

The school district announced May 1 both administrators were voluntarily resigning effective June 30.

Schigur’s and Schuetz’s contracts are effective until June 2020. Their contracts allow termination without penalty or prejudice under a mutual written agreement between the board and administrators.

In exchange for the payments, Schigur and Schuetz agreed to waive any and all lawsuits and legal claims against the district and school board, with the exception of claims made against board member Brian Kvapil in a March 21 cease-and-desist letter from Schuetz’s attorney, according to Martin’s statement.

Terms of the agreements were accepted by board members during earlier closed-session meetings, Martin said in the statement.

During Monday night’s school board meeting, Kvapil disagreed with the wording in the statement because there was some deviation from the terms outlined by the board in closed session and what was negotiated.

Three changes were made in negotiation. These included:

  • A $1,000 difference in the amount paid to Schigur.
  • A change in benefits for Schigur shortening the length of time he will receive health insurance from the district.
  • A change to how long Schigur will receive payment. The agreement originally said he would receive payment until he found employment, but he will instead be paid for 12 months, Martin said.

Martin reached out to each board member to discuss the negotiated changes before signing the agreement, and he said each board member agreed to the terms.

Kvapil said he gave the OK for those negotiated changes, but he disagreed with the wording in Martin’s statement that said the terms of the agreements were decided in closed session.

Kvapil also expressed concern that board members were not given copies of the agreements for prior review. He was the only board member to vote against the meeting’s staffing report, which included the resignations.

Schigur’s terms

Schigur will continue to receive health insurance from the district until Aug. 31, according to his agreement.

In his augmentation of the records, Schigur said the school board’s dysfunction has negatively affected himself, administration and the community.

He reiterated that the investigation into employee compensation found he did not violate district policy or state law when former board President Tom Westrick approved a $10,500 stipend to go to Schigur for completing his doctorate.

In February, Kvapil released documents to the media revealing payments given to Schigur and Schuetz, which sparked an investigation into employee compensation.

Attorney Lori Lubinksy found Schigur and Schuetz committed no wrongdoing but that Kvapil violated the state’s open records laws by releasing the documents without allowing the administrators a five-day augmentation period, according to the report.

“The false accusations levied and carried forward by board members have created an agenda of hatred towards me as an individual and towards members of the district’s administrative team. The failure to provide due process demonstrates that these false assertions were nothing but attacks driven by the personal agendas of various individuals in the school board and within the community,” Schigur wrote in his augmentation.

Schuetz’s terms

Schuetz will not have to repay the district for professional development and educational expenses, according to the agreement.

Schuetz’s contract allows for reimbursement for college courses, but the administrator must give that money back up to a certain amount if the administrator leaves the district, depending on how soon the administrator leaves after receiving the reimbursement.

Records obtained and shared by the Milton Courier show Schuetz has been reimbursed $33,665 in tuition since 2015.

Schuetz’s contract says he would have to repay some or all of his reimbursement for any payments received in the last four years. His resignation agreement waives that stipulation.

Per the agreement, the district will provide Schuetz a “positive letter of reference” and verbal recommendations for use with prospective employers.

Schuetz will receive a lump-sum payment of $100 per day for up to five unused all-purpose days and a lump-sum payment of $367.44 per day for unused vacation time.

Schuetz in his augmentation said the release of his records has been cause of “social and emotional distress” for himself and his family.

“... The inability or unwillingness of all seven board members to fully commit to improving our relationship and support the administration moving forward found my family and me believing that this would continue to be a potentially emotionally unhealthy and unsafe position to work in going forward, thus we agreed it best for all to separate and move forward,” Schuetz said in his augmentation.


Jerry Schuetz

Anthony Wahl 

A runner passes a set of colorful crabapple trees while along the Ice Age Trail near Blackhawk Golf Course in Janesville on Monday.

China retaliates on tariffs, stock markets go into a slide


Sending Wall Street into a slide, China announced higher tariffs Monday on $60 billion worth of American goods in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s latest penalties on Chinese products.

Duties of 5% to 25% will take effect on June 1 on about 5,200 American products, including batteries, spinach and coffee, China’s Finance Ministry said.

With investors worried about the potential economic damage on all sides from the escalating trade war, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 617 points, or 2.4%, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq plunged 270 points, or 3.4%, its biggest drop of the year.

“We appear to be in a slow-motion train wreck, with both sides sticking to their positions,” said William Reinsch, a trade analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former U.S. trade official. “As is often the case, however, the losers will not be the negotiators or presidents, but the people.”

Beijing’s move came after the U.S. raised duties Friday on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25%, up from 10%. In doing so, American officials accused China of backtracking on commitments it made in earlier negotiations. The same day, trade talks between the two countries broke up without an agreement.

On Twitter, Trump warned Xi that China “will be hurt very badly” if it doesn’t agree to a trade deal. Trump tweeted that Beijing “had a great deal, almost completed, & you backed out!”

The rising trade hostilities could damage the economies of both countries. The tariff increases already in place have disrupted trade in such American products as soybeans and medical equipment and sent shockwaves through other Asian economies that supply Chinese factories.

Still, the two countries have given themselves something of an escape hatch: The higher Chinese tariffs don’t kick in for 2½ weeks. The U.S. increases apply to Chinese goods shipped since Friday, and those shipments will take about three weeks to arrive at U.S. seaports and become subject to the higher charges.

Also, both countries have indicated more talks are likely. Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday that China has invited U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing. But nothing has been scheduled. And Trump said Monday that he expects to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in late June at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

The president has repeatedly insisted that increased tariffs on Chinese goods don’t hurt American consumers. But Kudlow, head of the president’s National Economic Council, acknowledged over the weekend that U.S. consumers and businesses will bear some of the costs.

In the U.S., prices of soybeans, targeted by Chinese tariffs last year, fell Monday to a 10-year low on fears of a protracted trade war.

The president’s allies in Congress scrambled to limit the damage to farm country.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said it is time for U.S. allies to “get in the game” to push China to the negotiating table.

“China needs to get with it,” he said. “You can’t move these goalposts like they’re moving them and expect to be respected.”

The highest tariffs announced by China will apply to industrial chemicals, electronic equipment, precision machinery and hundreds of food products.

Beijing is running out of U.S. imports to penalize because of the lopsided trade balance between the world’s two largest economies. Chinese regulators have instead targeted American companies in China by slowing down the clearing of shipments through customs and the processing of business licenses.

Oxford Economics calculated that the higher tariffs will reduce the U.S. economy by 0.3% in 2020, a loss of $490 per American household.

Similarly, forecasters have warned that the U.S. tariff increases could set back a Chinese recovery that had appeared to be gaining traction.

Growth in the world’s second-largest economy during the January-through-March period held steady at 6.4% compared with a year earlier, supported by higher government spending and bank lending.

The tensions “raise fresh doubts about this recovery path,” Morgan Stanley economists said.

The latest U.S. duties could knock 0.5 percentage points off annual Chinese economic growth, and that could widen to 1 percentage point if both sides extend penalties to all of each other’s exports, economists say. That would pull annual growth below 6%, raising the risk of politically dangerous job losses.

China’s state media tried to reassure businesses and consumers that the ruling Communist Party has the means to respond.

“There is nothing to be afraid of,” said the party newspaper People’s Daily. “The U.S.-instigated trade war against China is just a hurdle in China’s development process. It is no big deal.”

Trump has threatened to extend tariffs to the remaining $300 billion or so in Chinese tariffs that haven’t been targeted yet, but he told reporters Monday: “I have not made that decision yet.”

The president started raising tariffs last July over complaints China steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology and unfairly subsidizes Chinese businesses that are striving to become global leaders in robotics and other technology.

Obituaries and death notices for May 14, 2019

Joseph “Chief” Coulter

William Haygood

Lloyd Oberman

David L. Sowle

Melly S. Staskal

Mary M. Vaage

Jan Van Dreser

Matt Slocum 

Milwaukee Brewers' Lorenzo Cain, left, runs past Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola to score on a double by Christian Yelich during the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, May 13, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Anthony Wahl 

Gov. Tony Evers speaks at Beloit Turner High School in the town of Beloit on Monday as he gives the school a $25,000 grant to expand its fabrication laboratory. The grant will help cover the cost of an advanced-technology classroom equipped with 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and plasma cutters.

Tim Schigur

top story
GOP lawmakers call governor's education funding increase unrealistic


State Rep. Tyler August says he believes Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed $1.4 billion hike in education funding is unrealistic and a “fake number.”

But after touring two Delavan-Darien School District schools Monday, August said he would be “shocked” if the Legislature didn’t approve an education spending increase of some kind.

“I think both houses are committed to doing some sort of an increase,” said August, a Republican from Lake Geneva. “What that number’s going to ultimately be, I don’t know.”

School district officials led August and state Sen. Steve Nass, R-La Grange, on a tour of Delavan-Darien High School and Turtle Creek Elementary School on Monday afternoon.

The tour was timely because the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is amending Evers’ proposed 2019-21 budget. Both lawmakers agreed the governor’s education funding request is unrealistic.

“Tony Evers has thrown so much money into the budget that even Democrats realize it’s not going to happen,” Nass said. “He just put his wish list out there.”

August and Nass visited several classes during their two-hour visit, including adventure education, metals, elementary dual-language and a greenhouse.

Delavan-Darien officials told them the school district faces unique challenges. Fifty-three percent of its enrollment is Hispanic or Latino. About 70% qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches, which is a sign of poverty. Eighteen percent of students need special-education services.

Superintendent Jill Sorbie said additional funding and grants are “essential” for the district to provide programming.

The first-grade dual-language classrooms were at Turtle Creek. In one room, a teacher asked students in Spanish if the shapes on the board were rectangles or squares. In an adjacent room, students took a language exam in English.

Turtle Creek Principal Chris Fountain said 70% of the district’s first-grade dual-language instruction is in Spanish, and 30% is in English.

Honor choirs at Turtle Creek sang show tunes from Broadway musicals for the legislators in the gymnasium. Students sang one song in both English and Spanish.

At Delavan-Darien High School, Ben Herland, a physical education teacher, showed them a 35-foot outdoor rock-climbing structure used for adventure education.

Other adventure education activities offered at the high school include kayaking, canoeing and mountain biking.

“To you and I, you’ve probably been on a kayak or a canoe. To them? Maybe four out of 20 is normal,” Herland said.

Sorbie praised the adventure education program, saying a $1.2 million grant awarded to the district nine years ago allowed it to blossom.

“None of the kids have really ever experienced this,” Sorbie said. “... It’s those funding pieces.”

After the tour, August agreed the district has challenges and said it is “doing quite a bit here with the resources they have.”

He said the state administers categorical aid to students whose second language is English, and Delavan-Darien receives some of that. He said lawmakers have started looking at ways to supplement programs through categorical aid.

“Trying to make sure as we move through the (budget) process that we don’t take any steps backwards, I think, is an important part of what we’re going to continue to do over the next month and a half,” August said.

To help districts such as Delavan-Darien, Nass said the state and federal government could consider providing a pathway for Spanish-speakers from Central America to legally immigrate to Wisconsin to teach.

“Getting those here legally so they can assist in the classroom ... I think that’s something that we certainly can put on the radar,” Nass said.