The Monona Rag

Dealing the Dish on Monona, Wisconsin

Tag: Maywood

Monona: Fact or Fiction

On warm summer nights, my spouse and I like to make a fire in the backyard and swap stories about Monona with friends. Some of the more outrageous items have endured, so here’s the truth about a gaggle of Monona ‘facts’.

Question: Is Kathy Thomas really an undead creature seeing as she’s been on the Monona City Council for over 90 years?

The Skinny: Fiction. Kathy Thomas is really a name handed down from person to person over the last century, sort of like the Dread Pirate Roberts in Princess Bride. The current incarnation of ‘Kathy Thomas’ has been around only about 40 years.

Question: Is Maywood School is haunted?

The Skinny: Fiction. The creepy weeping sound occasionally heard at the abandoned school is from Monona parents who stop by and lament the passing of the cutest damned school this side of the Mississippi. Go turtles!

Question: Does Monona have the biggest Memorial Day parade in the state?

The Skinny: Fact. The Memorial Day parade rocks. Go to it!

Question: Is Mayor Bob Miller a ninja?

The Skinny: Fiction. Mayor Miller is not a ninja. He is simply a contract killer for the CIA in his off hours. To call him a ninja would insult real ninjas, like Jeff Wiswell.

Question: Is former Mayor Robb Kahl a republican?

The Skinny: Fiction. Former mayor Kahl is running for the Wisconsin Assembly as a Democrat.

Question: Is Monona is famous for its friendly horses?

The Skinny: Fact. Friendly horses tend to visit Monona to meet Super Friendly Horse (who received votes in this month’s city council race!). Monona is then frequently full of friendly horses, not to mention the original Super Friendly one.

Question: Is is true the air quality at the Silver Eagle was once rated worse than Gary, Indiana?

The Skinny: Fact. Prior to the smoking ban, the amount of smoke in the air was equivalent or worse than 60s era Gary, Indiana.

Question: Is Chad Speight’s hair is a wig?

The Skinny: Fiction. Alderman Chad has a load of hair that many men can only dream of.

Clamor to sell Nichols will grow

Monona Grove needs to make $1.2 million in cuts. This year, we don’t have 900k in federal dollars to throw at our deficit. And there won’t be large cuts into public employee compensation like last year. And we can’t close any more schools.

That means the district will need to come up with a lot of serious cuts for 2012-13.

With nothing dramatic available, this generally means chipping away at things. It will require cutting some staff positions, increasing fees for sports and programs, cutting some programs (4th grade strings, this means you) and services.

To avoid such cuts the district would need to find a way to come up with some big bucks very quickly. The only way to do this is to have a referendum (which is too late for next year, so we can dismiss it – for now), or sell off something of value.

Sell something of value? Nichols? Maywood? Could we be talking about you?

You bet.

In the upcoming weeks as the district has budget reduction hearings, you’ll hear a lot of people make the suggestion that the district sell Nichols and/or Maywood.

In reality, it’s virtually impossible for the district to sell either property and apply the savings for next school year. It’s simply too late.

However, when we do make some major cuts, you will hear a growing cry to sell off Nichols (and even Maywood). Because come 2013-14, we are going to have to go through this again, because we’re likely to have another $1+ million deficit.

The district has been given the approval to investigate the sale of Nichols (but not Maywood). Expect Superintendent Gerlach to mention that fact about 10,000 times during the upcoming budget listening sessions with the public.

We could have a referendum put forth in the fall of this year, or the spring of next, but there’s no promise it would be approved.

Whether it is worth selling Nichols (no one really knows the value of the property in this economic climate), expect a lot of voices suggesting that we do so.

Future of Nichols and Maywood schools

At the most recent school board meeting, the board was given the authority to look into leasing Maywood School, and selling/leasing Nichols.

None of this is particularly shocking, since it has been discussed for some months.

This does not mean the district is going to sell Nichols. Or lease it or Maywood. It simply gives them the option of such a move.

So, is this a wise move? Would Solomon give it the old ‘thumbs up’?

We say yay. Or yeah. Or yup. Or ya. Or yah. Or any way you spell it – yes.

Why? Face it, unless Mayor Bob has a way to seize neighboring lands, Monona will not be growing. We’re frigging landlocked. That’s the fact.

As long as Monona is in the MG school district, we will not need any building other than Winnequah School.

Open enrollment won’t change numbers that much. Attracting families may help, but its not as if we are suddenly going to have 50 more families with two kids each move into the city. If anything, we will lose population as families continue to shrink. That’s the reality.

So that means we should examine the options for Nichols and Maywood. Nichols currently houses the Alt High School (as well as district offices), and moving those kids would certainly be a challenge. But the district owes it to itself to examine the options.

Schools are closing and merging all over the country. It sucks. We go to larger classes. Larger buildings. Losing the small, intimate nature of a place like Maywood is terrible. But it is happening. And while the Nichols building serves a good purpose, the district is totally right to look into what we can get for the property if it was sold (or leased). If we don’t find anything worthwhile, then we go on as is. But at least we looked alternatives.

The Nichols building is at a prime location in Monona. Finding out the value it has in the commercial world is the smart thing to do.

Nichols/Maywood in the crosshairs

The school board is looking toward the futures of the Maywood and Nichols buildings. Next month, the board will seek authorization from the public to sell and/or lease some district properties. This includes:

  • Sell or lease the Nichols property
  • Sell the two residential properties on Jerome street across from the high school
  • Lease the Maywood property

The board is not allow to sell the properties without community approval. So the question will appear on the fall ballot.

We heartily agree that these items should be considered. Just because we are authorizing the district to do such a thing doesn’t mean they will. If a decent deal isn’t found, they could just keep things status quo.

With regard to the first two items, the selling or leasing of Nichols should be investigated. The two residential properties on Jerome should be sold asap. They are just being used as storage.

The interesting one is Maywood. The option to sell the property is not being put forward. If Maywood was razed, the land could be used for approximately 20 homes. But that isn’t going to happen. Not at this time. The district apparently feels it could be used by the district in the future. For what, I’m not sure. District offices? Perhaps if Nichols is sold. I find it unlikely that Monona will experience a population boom that would require more space. But you never know.

Perhaps the district is simply being prudent on the future of Maywood. Closing the school and then putting it up for sale within a year would only inflame many residents.

Either Maywood or Nichols could be a destination for Madison’s Nuestro Mundo charter school, which is looking for a home.

RIP Maywood

The school board voted to close Maywood last night. The vote was 5-2, with Susan Manning and Jessica Ace voting to keep the school open.

Here’s a nice review of last night’s meeting on the Herald Independent’s website.

The move is not unexpected. Lionel Norton and Sue Fox, who had voted last spring to keep the school open for one more year, had hinted their vote would change this time. The closing will save the district approximately $250,000 a year (that will be offset this upcoming year with upwards of $250,000 in one-time costs to convert Winnequah to a K-5. The district, I believe, has about $70,000 in left over referendum money that can be used toward the project.)

The board was set to close Maywood last spring, but public uproar gave it a year’s extension.

While many will lament the fact that the decision wasn’t made last year. However, I appreciate the fact that the board gave Monona and many of its citizens the extra year. The extra year gave Maywood supporters the chance to examine alternatives, try and come up with compelling educational reasons for keeping the school open, and, in general, just gave the community time to accept the inevitable. Was it costly? Yes. But this school district has had enough strife and anger. I don’t think anyone can accuse the board of not being sensitive to the community.

Long live the turtles.

Now sing with me!

Maywood, Maywood

Cool school
Friendly neighborhood
Your turtles are looking good
The way a turtle should- Maywood!

W-Double O –D
Maywood is the school for me
Turtles are the very best………”

Cool school
Friendly neighborhood
Your turtles are looking good
The way a turtle should – Maywood!

W-Double O –D
Maywood is the school for me
Turtles are the very best………”

Cool school
Friendly neighborhood
Your turtles are looking good
The way a turtle should – Maywood!

Save the Turtle!

Maybe we can’t save Maywood, but maybe we accomplish something different – save the Maywood Turtle.

Assuming Maywood is closed (not a hard thing to predict at this stage), the K-2 kids will move to Winnequah. The school board posted on the district website that they would have to make a decision on Winnequah’s mascot once this happens.

The options are to select a new one, or go with the Turtle or the Wonder.

Let’s start with Wonder. The Winnequah Wonders. This is stupid. Plain lame. No kid walks around saying they want to be a Wonder. It’s the kind of name thought up by an adult smoking weed who thinks the kids will all love some sort of all-encompassing aspirational verb/noun. And what is the logo? Some spinning abstract people! Sorry, no kid is going to think that’s cool. Kill the Wonders!

That leaves a new one or the turtles.

Turtles are fun. It’s cute. It’s quirky. It’s cool. The turtle is wise (just talk to that lazy ass rabbit and he’ll agree). Of course, the developing cynicism of a 5th grader may think the turtle is little too cute and quirky – but I think they’d be okay with it.

I suspect some people will want to change the name to ‘signal a new era’ or something like that. But those are the ones who just want to erase the history of Maywood, who say it was just a building. I say save the turtle. This way, when Maywood closes, we can keep a small part of the school alive. Perhaps it would be a hollow victory – since in reality saving a logo does nothing to ease the loss of an entire school closing. But in the end, the survival of the Maywood turtle would be kind of fun.

We can all use a little of that.

Mayor Kahl wants to save Maywood…as a Senior Center

Mayor Kahl sent the district a letter offering a future for Maywood/Nichols/Winnequah schools.

Here’s a rundown from Doug Wood’s blog on Kahl’s plan:

  • Maywood: move district offices from Nichols to Maywood, keep pre-K, and turn the rest of it into the new Monona Senior Center. The city would kick in money to upgrade the facility for these updated needs.
  • Nichols: clear the property so that ‘Vacating Nichols would send such an indication that the District is at least willing to open the doors to a discussion on this facility’s future’. Otherwise, sell it.
  • Community Center: the Alt school would be moved to the lower level of the Community Center from Nichols.
  • Winnequah: would house K-5.

Implications of this?

I think it shows that the mayor doesn’t believe Maywood can be saved. The vote earlier this year was 4-3 – and Susan Fox and Lionel Norton are probably going to vote the other way this time.

It’s also pretty…dull? Turning Maywood into a Senior Center – which the mayor says is needed, just would bring a bit of a anti-climatic end to this entire debate.

Questions? Many.

  • Do we really need more room for the Senior Center?
  • Is it prudent to be spending money at this time on a new Senior Center?
  • What is Nichols really worth? Recent studies done by the district earlier this year show the property faces numerous issues. But Kahl says the ‘City has been approached with multiple potential development concepts for the Nichols site’. What are the likely options for this property?
  • Instead of closing Nichols down, do you look at alternatives for Maywood? How about adding homes into this large tract of land – these would be ideal locations for families (something our city says we need to attract). What better way than to drop down 10-20 homes a couple of blocks from a massive park (and a smaller one next doo), a pool and a library. Of course, once you do this, there’s no going back. Maywood is gone forever.

The last comment is really the thing that is looming before us – Maywood is likely gone. Kahl seems to be waving the white flag here – saving Maywood to be used by a different generation of our residents – and selling off Nichols.

On a side note – does anyone ever feel sad for Nichols School? No one seems to have fought for it like they have Maywood. It’s sort of the like ugly, older, less talented brother that everyone says they like, but deep down, don’t care about. I suspect that it has an inferiority complex.

Back on topic – what do you think of the Mayor’s ideas?

Again, read his entire letter at Doug Wood’s blog.

Battleground Maywood – The Movie

Coming to theaters this holiday season – Battleground Maywood

A community must come together – before it tears itself apart!

It was only a school, but to a community, it was their soul.

The out-of-town bean counters plan to close the elementary school and send the children to an overcrowded, crumbling building near a toxic waste dump.

When town activists fight to save their beloved Maywood, they unravel a conspiracy that rises all the way to their own ranks. Are they willing to risk their own lives just to save a precious school?

An all-star cast comes together to depict an epic battle of mystery, romance, suspense and the triumph of the human spirit.

Batlleground Maywood – Inspired by a True Story

Alex Trebek as Superintendent Craig Gerlach

Angelina Jolie as Jessica Ace

Vincent D'Onofrio as Jason McCutchin

Don Cheadle as Lionel Norton

Joan Allen as Susan Manning

Keith Richards as Peter Sobol

Meryl Streep as Susan Fox

Kathy Griffen as Jill List

Alec Baldwin as Mayor Robb Kahl

Jack Nicholson as Alderman Jeff Wiswell

John Malkavich as Crazed Maywood Supporter

Larry the Cable Guy as the Ninja Assassin

Nicholas Cage as Upset Parent

Pat as Janus Dent Masters

Taylor Momsen as the Crusading Student

Emma Watson as Naked Student #1

Ian Somerhalder as Naked Student #2

Morgan Freeman as The Narrator

Mayor’s stunning new plan to save Maywood

The debate about Maywood and Winnequah continues for 265th time tonight at the school board meeting.

We can assume there will be plenty of teachers protesting the current negations.

But the big surprise will be Mayor Robb Kahl’s new new effort to save Maywood. He is going to make it clear that Monona can fill Maywood and Winnequah by getting the common council to change an ordinance.

We have secured a copy of the ordinance through an FIA request.

Ordinance No. BR-549-ZZZ

AN ORDINANCE to Save Maywood School

WHEREAS, Maywood school is important to the vitality of Monona and the Monona Grove School District;

WHEREAS, Monona needs more children to fill our parks, pool and especially schools, including Winnequah, Nichols and beloved Maywood;

WHEREAS, Polgyny is where a man has multiple simultaneous wives;

WHEREAS, Polyandry is where a woman has multiple simultaneous husbands.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Common Council of the City of Monona, Dane County, Wisconsin, do ordain and resolves as follows:

SECTION 549. Section 2-1-2 of the Code of Ordinances is hereby amended to add the following subsection (f):

Sec. 2-1-2 Marriage

All areas of the City of Monona shall permit polgyny and polyandry. Hitherto, the city of Monona shall ignore all state statues concerning marriage and let the Governor and Attorney General try to stop us.

SECTION 3. This ordinance shall take effect upon passage and publication as provided by law.

Adopted this day of __________________________,

The effect of the ordinance will allow Monona men and women to stock up on spouses and start making lots and lots of babies. Marrying a single spouse with children will work even better, bypassing the time-consuming effort of conceiving and giving birth to children. The resulting effect will fill Maywood and Winnequah within a few years, and improve the MG football team within 15-20 year. With a little luck, even Nichols will be reopened.

The Great Maywood Debate

The Maywood debate is going to be a difficult one. I have a feeling we are going to hate this subject as it dominates headlines over the next few months.

Closing Maywood will reportedly save the district about $250,000 a year. Superintendent Gerlach says that he wants a decision on Maywood by December.

Based upon the most recent MG board meeting, board members Susan Manning and Jessica Ace appear to want to delay any such decision on Maywood as long as possible.

Jessica really looks like she’ll fight hard to keep the school open. She brought up the idea of putting administration at Winnequah instead of Nichols. But that brings up the question of where to put the alternative high school. Board President Susan Fox seems to be leaning toward closing Maywood.

Lionel Norton and Jill List made a good point about the Maywood debate – ask your questions now, bring up options, and let it go after that. They don’t want to put the decision on the agenda, only to have more questions pop up at the last minute.

Gerlach pointed out that cutting the budget this year will be very hard. Fox said that the district needs to cut $544,000 after everything was said and done.  The other $244,000 will come out of staff attrition and other like items.

I think Gerlach (or the board or whomever can do these sorts of things) should do the following:

  • Set a date now for the decision on Maywood. Don’t delay, don’t leave it ambiguous.
  • Inform board members and public that they need to submit all the alternatives for keeping Maywood open by a specific date.
  • Schedule a couple of talking sessions for the public to come and discuss about the subject. The district needs to give parents and concerned citizens a chance to voice their opinions.
  • Come out with talking points about the school and the issues. Examples: let everyone know if selling or renting Nichols is an alternative. Let everyone know how Winnequah would be configured with the additional students. Let everyone know what will happen to Maywood (this can be a simple ‘we don’t know’ – but say that). Have these points passed out at board meetings and sent home to parents, to show that the district is looking at all the questions regarding the issue.

Supporters of keeping Maywood open need to do the following:

  • Give solid evidence that K-2 school provides an educational benefit to our kids. Just saying the smaller environment is a good thing isn’t going to work. People will need more than that.
  • Bring realistic alternatives to the table that would keep the school open. The above scenario presented by Jessica Ace is a good example: what if you sold Nichols, moved district offices to Winnequah, and housed the Alt School somewhere else. I don’t know if this is a feasible idea, but go out and find the answers if want Maywood to survive.

In the end, I think the burden is on the Maywood supporters in this issue. Why? Because the vote that saved Maywood last year likely doesn’t have the same support this year.

Last year, some people thought the communities needed more time to consider alternatives. But that time is up. The budget issues continue to loom, and while it appears that Sue Manning and Jessica Ace want to keep Maywood, Susan Fox and Lionel Norton – who both voted to keep Maywood open last year – are not likely to repeat that vote. We can’t argue we haven’t had enough time or explored all the alternatives – we’v had nine months to do that – the excuse won’t hold with people.

Get ready for this to explode in the next couple of months – especially if a December date is set for making this decision.