Art Marquardt has been on the New Berlin School Board nine years. During that time, our borrow- and- spend School Board has allocated a boat-load of money for the massive new Ronald Reagan Elementary School and on New Berlin West improvements. This was peachy for Marquardt's family, since his kids attended NB West. Not so great for families with children at Eisenhower, though. Even Marquardt admits Eisenhower needs a lot of work.
New Berlin Public Schools used to boast about having small neighborhood elementary schools. But under Marquardt and others, it has become a district of mega-sized elementary schools. Consolidation of the elementary schools saves money, board members claim. And yet the district continues to operate two high schools despite the duplication in services and expensive operating costs. The district has borrowed vast sums and of course, has to pay to service the debt. To raise revenue, the district has sold or tried to sell off some district properties.
Grumbling about tight budgets, district officials have laid off teachers. Isn't the district's primary mission to educate children? Shouldn't district funds be used for that purpose? But Marquardt and other NBCRG-supported board members seem to like spending our tax dollars on stuff like an expensive "expect excellence" re-branding campaign, primping up the District Office, and adding administrative staff, including a communications director and an administrative assistant director-communications. Money has also been spent unnecessarily on couriers to deliver requested records or letters to district residents and to have lawyers respond to records requests rather than the superintendent, who by board policy is the custodian of public records.
When I questioned district administation about the cost of remodeling/redecorating the district office, they stonewalled. I then contacted Marquardt, who was Board Treasurer. School board members are supposed to be responsible stewards of public funds. We expect them to provide some oversight. But Marquardt merely replied: "I am not in possession of that information." Evidently, Marquardt was not only clueless about the expenditure, he had no interest in obtaining or communicating information about it. District administration's failure to respond to my records request resulted in my filing a formal complaint and speaking publicly about it at a school board meeting. That got a quick response--- from the district's lawyer. She emailed me several records.Turns out the district office makeover's cost exceeded $67,000. That's hardly chump change.
One of the school board's most important tasks is hiring a superintendent. Instead of doing a national search to find the best, most qualified person, Marquardt and his colleagues on the school board picked Dr. Paul Kreutzer, whose only superintendent experience was at North Lake, which has only one school (a K-8 school of about 400 students). Kreutzer, who was fond of out- of- state junkets, committed adultery in another state with a woman who had been a student teacher at North Lake, based on information in court records. The records indicate their relationship produced a child, who was born in 2008.
Dr. Kreutzer was New Berlin Superintendent for four years (July 2007-June 2011). For his replacement, rather than doing a search to find the most qualified applicant or involve the community in the decision-process, the school board opted to promote Joe Garza from Assistant Superintendent to Superintendent. The District announced that Garza was offered and accepted a 2 yr-contract, beginning July 1, 2011, with a salary of $150,000. According to the District website, Garza has been working on getting a doctorate. Predecessors Paul Kreutzer and James Benfield had earned doctorate degrees before they were hired to be the school chiefs of New Berlin.
It appears from past and recently published bio information, Marquardt's highest level of education was a GED from the Air Force. Woudn't you prefer someone with more formal schooling on the New Berlin Board of Education?
Dave Maxey is also running for re-election to the New Berlin School Board. I have concerns about him, too. See my previous post I won't be voting for Maxey.
Regarding District 2 Alderwoman Laura Karvala. I'm not voting for her. I don't live in her district.
Before her election, Karvala had been the spokesperson for the local group Concerned Citizens of New Berlin. CCNB's efforts to recall Mayor jack Chiovatero and Ald. Bill Moore were unsuccessful. CCNB filed a statement of intent to circulate a recall petition with the City Clerk in June 2010. In that paperwork, Karvala alleged that Mayor Chiovatero "has not abided by the will of the people regarding the City Center" and had "failed to communicate appropriately and effectively with the citizens of New Berlin regarding the project." A similar reason was cited for recalling Ald. Moore.
Karvala was subsequently elected to the District 2 Aldermanic seat.
A petition with numerous signatures from New Berlin residents opposed to the Walmart development on Greenfield Avenue was submitted to the City. So, did Karvala "abide by the will of the people" regarding that project? Nah. She voted in favor of the Walmart project.
If communicating effectively with residents is really very important to Ald. Karvala, why hasn't she used that $3,000 annual stipend she receives as an alderperson on top of her $7000 salary, and sent regular newsletters to residents in her district? Why doesn't she have a website or schedule open hours at City Hall?
Karvala used her position and influence to get the City to close her street to through traffic. Closing her street diverts traffic to other streets. She did not recuse herself from that vote. An ethics complaint against her was filed with the City. According to a New Berlin NOW report, more than 50 residents of the Glen Park subdivision in Karvala's district signed the ethics complaint. Karvala's response was to hire a high-priced attorney who managed to get the Ethics Committee to dismiss the complaint. Karvala didn't mind sticking New Berlin taxpayers with a $5,276 bill for legal fees.