Thursday, September 13, 2007

Jerry Theder: A Man With a Mission

This guy Jerry Theder is making things happen in the Elmbrook District.

Mostly, he's making the $100million+ referendum look.....well.....extremely generous--and making certain Board of Education members look, ummmmm, clueless.

The Elmbrook District has been mumbling and grunting about re-doing its high schools for a few years. By and by, a committee recommended, and the Board approved, a referendum request which would have cost over $100 million. That plan would extensively remodel AND add to the existing high schools.

Elmbrook residents, no fools, regarded the $100 million tag as a 'negotiating position,' and slam-dunked it to oblivion.

Jerry Theder emerged as the "counter-voice" and is co-chairman of the new committee studying the issue.

First off, Theder and his allies decided that Elmbrook would NOT build enough capacity to accomodate Chapter 220 or "open-enrollment" students. In other words, Elmbrook will spend money only on its own resident-students.

That triggered a hard look at the student-number projections, and sure enough, they were high.

The Elmbrook School District should size its future high schools to accommodate 2,300 resident students in the 2016-'17 school year, a committee decided Wednesday night, a significantly smaller size than the high schools were designed to accommodate in the district's failed April referendum.

Just as a comparison, the last committee had proposed capacity for 2,900 students--SIX HUNDRED MORE than the UW's demographics experts estimated.

A Board member pouted:

...Theder offered a revised model calling for resident enrollment to be estimated at 2,143 students.

Co-Chairman Meg Wartman disagreed, saying that she had confidence in the APL projections, for which the district budgeted $5,000.

Wartman is a member of the Board who approved the original bazillion-dollar request.

A couple of weeks ago, Theder's Committee found another $1 million or so in savings related to handicap-access at Brookfield Central HS. Perhaps Ms. Wartman was surprised and disagreed with that, too.

Keep it up, Jerry!!

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