Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Superintendent Schmidt retiring, and why the rush?

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting online (and the Waukesha Freeman is expected to have full coverage tomorrow) Waukesha School Superintendent David Schmidt is retiring. Schmidt’s retirement is to go into effect June 30th.

This news comes on the same day that teachers received a new contract to ratify, with the Waukesha School Board planning a special meeting for Monday to approve the agreement.

Schmidt was hardly uncontroversial in his tenure as superintendent as he presided over the gradual slide of the school system into a financial black hole. He was unable to provide the leadership to make the necessary structural changes to save the system money. He opposed closing under-utilized schools and redistricting to save transportation costs, and even argued Waukesha’s compressed teacher salary structure did not have that great of a financial burden on the district. Schmidt’s administration couldn’t even tell what was spent using the company credit cards.

Now the school board is rushing to approve a new contract for the teachers before the details can be discussed by the public. Given the importance of this contract to the long term health of the Waukesha School District, the school board and the administration owe it to the general public for a full and open discussion of the new contract’s provisions.

Such hurrying and scurrying can only be the desperate attempt to push this through even though the new contract surely has all the hallmarks of the incompetence of Superintendent Schmidt and the members of the school board that have propped him up for ten years.

Not one school board member ever had the courage to speak up at any of the large education-themed events in Waukesha in 2007. Their attempt to use extra-curriculars as blackmail failed. And now they couldn’t even push the contract negotiations to arbitration, and they’re in a hurry to pass it before the damage is known.

After June 30th, I suspect there’s going to be a lot of, “It was all Dave Schmidt’s fault,” as the school board and the next superintendent try to restore the credibility of the school district and ask the voters for more money. But it will be a long time before the voters forget that whatever happened under Dave Schmidt, he had a lot of “help.”

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