You know that I’m from the ’80s, the ironic decade, so this column’s headline is somewhere between ironic and sarcastic to describe any government meeting I have to cover. (And because I loathe exclamation points.)
That doesn’t mean meetings such as Monday’s Platteville School Board meeting can’t be interesting. (“Fun” and “job” really don’t and shouldn’t go together.) When someone I encounter claims he or she has never worked a day in his or her life, and clearly does work, I always wonder how someone has managed to avoid the drudgery and unpleasant aspects that are part of every job I’ve ever seen — including, in my case, (1) long meetings and (2) complaints.
Monday’s meeting featured both, though (1) the public part of the meeting (before executive session) lasted two hours, my limit for how long a governmental meeting should take before mandatory adjournment, and (2) the complaint wasn’t delivered in an unpleasant tone, unlike some others, usually delivered by people who decline to identify themselves.
Your favorite weekly newspaper reported last week that Platteville Public Schools superintendent Connie Valenza was one of four finalists for the Mount Horeb School District superintendent position. Valenza said Monday night she would not be leaving, and explained her reasons for seeking the position — proximity to her grandchildren, as well as the grave of her son, who died one day after the former Columbus High School principal accepted the Platteville position — not because she was trying to leave Platteville.
Valenza also said “Apparently when you’re in a role like mine there’s very little privacy.” Apparently in government, job searches for high-level positions are conducted in public, at least in their final stages. That is not how it usually works in the private sector. For one thing, employers probably assume if an employee is looking to leave, he or she is devoting his or her primary energy to the job search instead of his or her present job. (I know someone who told his boss he was looking, and went to work a short time later to find out he’d been replaced before he had found a new job. Any good manager should have a list of potential replacements for his or her key employees.)
Readers know that the City of Platteville brought finalists for the city manager position here from Oshkosh, Mauston, New Glarus and Edina, Minn., from where their assistant city manager Karen Kurt became Platteville’s city manager. The Journal also reported that UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields was a finalist for the presidency of Chicago State University before Chicago State named another candidate. Such things are not only public information, but news of interest to our readers, whose taxes fund, just in Platteville, $17 million in city government, almost $16.4 million in schools (on top of the $16.6 million building project under way), and the largest single part (since Platteville is Grant County’s largest city) of the $45 million Grant County spends each year.
Superintendents are very difficult to replace. PPS is recognized by about any measure you’d like — the state school report cards (assuming they return), test scores, Platteville Middle School’s national Blue Ribbon Award, Westview Elementary School’s state award, being named one of the national Best Communities for Music Education — as the best school district in Southwest Wisconsin. It wasn’t an accident that PPS voters declined a tax cut in favor of $16.6 million in school building improvements by a 2-to-1 margin. And the rule of any employment change is that replacements can be worse than incumbents.
Monday’s meeting featured another discussion about the 2016–17 calendar, the result of a technological error that eliminated the last two days of October from the calendar. (Somehow I’m reminded of the Y2K crisis of 1999. Perhaps future calendars should be created on a Magic Slate.) That gave the School Board the opportunity to add a third day to spring break, while reopening a discussion about whether Martin Luther King, Jr. Day should be a day off. Readers know I advocated last week for MLK Day to be a class day, as PPS teachers apparently wanted. It will be again in 2016–17.
There was also mention of Platteville’s girls basketball win over Richland Center to clinch the Southwest Wisconsin Conference title. (See page 12A, with possible rematch Saturday night.) One night later, Richland Center’s boys team came to Platteville. In both cases it sounded as if the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s memo about sportsmanship and lack thereof didn’t get to Richland Center, given the frowned-upon chants such as “You can’t do that!” and, from what I’m told, chants that can’t be repeated in this newspaper. I bring this up only to point out the results:
Thursday: Platteville 60, Richland Center 37.
Friday: Platteville 70, Richland Center 57.
By the RC standard Platteville fans would have been justified in chanting “Scoreboard!” back at Hornet fans.