Saturday, February 27, 2016

Oshkosh School Board Approves Proposed Cuts if Referendum Not Approved

The Oshkosh School Board approved a list of $3.4 million in cuts for the 2016-17 school year and an additional $4 million in cuts for the 2017-18 school year that would be instituted if the April 5 Referendum for Learning is not approved by district voters.

The Referendum for Learning is a request for increased funding that will go before school district voters on April 5. The referendum is in response to continued pressure on the school district’s budget due to inadequate state funding that does not keep up with inflation or increasing educational costs.
The state allows school districts to ask local voters to approve increases beyond the state-imposed revenue limits for their community.

If voters approve the referendum on April 5, it will provide $4 million per year for seven years that would be used to protect academic programs for Oshkosh students and make security improvements to district schools. If voters do not approve the referendum, the board-approved cuts will go into effect beginning in the 2016-17 school year. The cuts were developed by a 33-member staff/community budget reconciliation committee over the course of several meetings.

Examples of what will be cut over the next two years if the referendum fails include:
• Mandatory study hall for all middle school students in place of elective classes like Family-Consumer Science, Career/Technology Education and STEM
• Eliminate or restrict lower enrollment classes and electives in middle and high school (ex: CAPP,
Business, Technology and Engineering, Agriculture, French, German, Art and Music/Orchestra)
• Reduce art, music and gym opportunities in elementary school
• Increase athletic fees and combine several North and West high school teams into one
• Close and/or combine schools

“Voters need complete information about what will occur if the referendum passes and what if it fails,” said Superintendent Stan Mack. “We have been very clear that if it passes, we will be able to protect academic programs and enhance school security. We need to be equally clear what will be cut if it fails so residents know the impact that would have on our school programs.”

More information about the Referendum for Learning can be found at

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Washington Elementary named School of Recognition

For more information contact:
Kim Brown
Director of Learning
Oshkosh Area School District
(920) 424-0289

Washington Elementary Named as School of Recognition

The Wisconsin Title 1 School of Recognition is an honorary award for schools that have been successful in educating students from low-income families. State Superintendent, Tony Evers, states, “The staff and administration of these schools are committed to breaking the link between poverty and low academic achievement through rigorous programming and attention to student needs. Many positive educational opportunities exist for students across the state.”

This year, Washington Elementary is recognized for their students’ achievement as a Beating the Odds School. This will be the tenth year they have been recognized and the ninth consecutive year that Washington Elementary School has received this recognition. Principal of Washington School, Susan Martin, shared “At Washington, we believe that no significant learning can take place without significant relationships. These relationships ground our students for academic success. The educators at Washington are passionate individuals who work diligently to meet the academic and emotional needs of every child- we are truly a ‘school family.’”

Tony Evers will host an awards program at the State Capitol on March 14 to further recognize Wisconsin Title 1 School of Recognition award recipients. Washington School will receive a plaque and $500 for use in their school.

Congratulations to everyone at Washington Elementary on this special honor.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

New laws Wisconsinites need to know about

The latest episode of Eye on Oshkosh is now online. Check out our discussion with attorney George Curtis about new Wisconsin laws for 2016. There are many things the legislature and governor have done that, as consumers, we all need to be aware of, especially since more and more rights and protections are being stripped away by this administration.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Councilman Stepanek issues press release on Diversity Coordinator position




On Tuesday the City Council will begin to identify steps towards hiring a Diversity Coordinator. This position was initially proposed by Councilor Ben Stepanek in the 2016 Budget, but was rejected by the City Council at that time. After Councilors received numerous emails in support of the position it has taken top priority. If created, the position would help Oshkosh compete in a globalizing society and attract millenials to the community.

"During the 2016 Budget deliberations, I held listening sessions, spoke with community stakeholders & I recognized the need & public support for hiring a Diversity Coordinator by the City," Stepanek said. " I am looking forward to seeing this position in the City Managers 2017 Budget proposal. I am thrilled with the public support that has come pouring in on this issue & even more excited about how far the City Councilors opinion have come on this issue in the last three months. I am glad that more Councilors are getting engaged in the discussion & putting forward ideas on how to make this position a reality in Oshkosh," he said. 

The Council will need to approve the position in the 2017 City budget. For more information on this position please contact Ben Stepanek @ 920-765-1072 Community members can email their Councilors in support of a Diversity Coordinator in the City by using the link below.

* Editor's Note: Meanwhile, there will be a general Conversation on Diversity held in the Council Chambers and sponsored by Councilors Clark and Pech on Tuesday, February 16 from 6 to 7:30 pm. This discussion is intended to have citizens talk with the councilors and each other about their feelings and thoughts regarding diversity in today's society. Citizens are therefore encouraged to attend.  

Racial literacy organization seeks volunteers

Interested in volunteering for Fit Oshkosh?
Join us this Saturday, February 13, from 9a-1p at the Hooper Building (where Oshkosh United Way is located) 36 Broad Street, Oshkosh, WI.
If you would care to learn more about this racial literacy organization, are considering volunteering, or want to learn more about how to become a trained Facilitator for Fit, please plan to attend.
Complimentary refreshments will be served.
An RSVP is required. For more information, please call 920-479-5380 or email us at

Monday, February 08, 2016

Oshkosh Common Councilors to hold Conversation on Diversity, Feb. 16, 2016

I received this as part of an email from Oshkosh Common Councilor Tom Pech, Jr., and I encourage as many folks as are able to attend this discussion. Because of a previous commitment I will only be able to be there for about 30 minutes or so, but a little bit is better than nothing to demonstrate our interest in furthering this conversation along. ...

"Councilor Clark and I will be holding a Conversation on Diversity 16 February from 1800 to 1930 (6 to 7:30 pm) in Council Chambers.  When it comes down to it diversity is knowing, understanding and accepting each person’s similarities to ourselves as well as our differences.  This comes from talking to each other, rather than at each other.  It comes from listening and truly hearing what others say, not interpreting what is said through our own filter, pre-conceived notions or biases.  It means asking questions if we do not understand what is being said to seek that understanding and clarity. Simply stated it means treating others as we would want to be treated. And it all begins with a conversation."

New episode of Eye on Oshkosh now online

The latest episode of Eye on Oshkosh is now online. Host Cheryl Hentz talks with Jake White from Party.0 about his efforts to get kids away from drinking to have fun, and instead to organizing and participating in sober house parties and activities. In the second segment, Hentz is joined by Angie McCarthy from Beaming, Inc. as they discuss equine therapy and the annual fundraiser Beaming conducts each year - "Night at the Races." Check out the show here:

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Call for Diversity Coordinator position in Oshkosh


Dear City Manager, Mayor and City Council Members:

I am writing to urge you to do whatever is necessary to move forward with the development of a Diversity Coordinator in the city of Oshkosh. I don't know if this position would be solely funded by the city, or be a shared position between the city, county and school district. Depending on the vision of what the person in this position would be charged with doing, it might even be funded partially by GO-EDC or some other local economic development organization that would benefit by its existence. My concern with getting too many organizations in the mix, however, is there could then too many "chiefs" to answer to, unless the various entities would have one body to who the person would report to. The various organizations could form a board or coalition to oversee the position, and the diversity coordinator could report to that board. Or something of that nature.  

The City of Appleton has a diversity coordinator and while I don't know exactly how this position is funded or how it is overseen, I believe we could learn much from how they've approached this issue and the position they've created. I further believe this position is one that is overdue in Oshkosh, as we are quickly becoming a diversified community and need to make everyone feel welcome and that they fit, etc. I know that the position of diversity coordinator covers much more than that, but in a nutshell it is about attracting people to this community, being inclusive and making newcomers here feel welcome and that they belong, as opposed to their being given the impression they are somehow second-class citizens or outsiders in our community, simply because they are not from here.

When I hear comments like those made by Mayor Steve Cummings at a School Board/Council meeting last week - ( (the conversation starts at about the :45:15 mark, but Mr. Cummings specific comments start at approximately the :48:40 mark), that people need to first understand our history and our community - I am not only disheartened and disappointed, but sickened. Yes, knowing about someone and where they're coming from is important, but it is also a long process - one that in many cases is always evolving. But we certainly do not need to understand someone's history in order to make our community inclusive, welcoming and accepting of those who are of a different race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, etc., do we? I think not. I also do not understand how, in a conversation about diversity and being inclusive, Mr. Cummings feels that using language that seems to separate "them" from "us" or "our," does anything at all toward furthering an inclusiveness within our community. Quite frankly, I find that attitude, especially in 2016, shameful.

So I would applaud those council members who voted to make the issue of a diversity coordinator a priority for the city manager in 2016 and I would implore you all as a collective voting body to continue forging ahead in this regard, just as I would encourage everyone in our community or elsewhere to follow the Golden Rule, and treat others - no matter who they are - as they would like to be treated.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

- Cheryl Hentz