Large crowd supports Nedelcoff

Photos by Scott De Laruelle. Around 150 people attended the Oregon School Board's meeting Monday night, many wearing Oregon High School basketball shirts in support of basketball coach Jon Nedelcoff, who was accused of bullying players at a previous school board meeting.

It was standing room only in a sea of orange as around 150 people – many dressed in Oregon basketball T-shirts – attended Monday night’s Oregon School Board meeting.

The main item on the agenda was the board’s approval of the district’s 2014-15 budget, but the massive turnout was to support Oregon High School boys basketball coach Jon Nedelcoff, who two parents accused during the public comment period of the Oct. 13 school board meeting of bullying some players. 

At that meeting, Tina Bastien and her husband Bill Jacobs said Nedelcoff was verbally abusive to their son and other players when they were on the OHS boys basketball team, and took the district to task for essentially sweeping the incidents under the rug. 


Teaming up for safety

Photos submitted. New signage is now in place at the renovated student drop-off area between Netherwood Knoll and Prairie View elementary schools.

It may be just a temporary fix, but Oregon School District and Dane County public health officials are pleased at the new look outside Oregon’s two elementary schools. 

Last Friday, with the help of Public Health Madison and Dane County, the district unveiled a new solution to the ongoing vehicle congestion issue between Netherwood Knoll and Prairie View elementary schools. It opened up the area to reduce the volume of vehicles and improve the flow of traffic around Circle Drive and Soden Drive. 

A longer-term solution is included in the school district’s Nov. 4 referenda. 


Judge responds to ‘bias’ letter

Oregon Municipal Court judge Beth Cox has “routinely” been invited to speak at Oregon schools to discuss the importance of voting.

So she was surprised when a letter to the Observer last week accused her of “unacceptable, immoral, irresponsible behavior” and taking “political advantage” in talking to high schoolers about voting rights a few weeks from an election.

Cox said the presentation, given Sept. 29 to around 200 students in four classes at Oregon High School, was on the nation’s history of voter registration, from the establishment of the Constitution in 1789 to current efforts regarding voting rights and voter ID. 

“This talk was something I offered to do because I would like to see more young people participate and vote,” Cox said.


As Nov. 4 looms, district referendum sessions continue

Oregon School District officials have been busy in recent weeks and months getting the word out on the $55 million referenda heading to the ballot in less than two weeks.

While attendance has been sparse, it seems people are finding the answers they’re looking for. And some people say that bodes well for referenda supporters.

Board member Barb Feeney said she has attended around eight events to help inform people about the referenda, handing out flyers at school events, special meetings with school staff and group presentations. She said the events that have been most successful were ones “already occurring” for another reason, noting that there was low turnout for the open house a few weeks ago at Brooklyn Elementary (one person in two hours) and various school tours.


‘A lot of bang for the buck’

Photos submitted. Oregon Middle School students are tightly packed due to overcrowding as they move through hallways and stairways between classes.

Decision day on Nov. 4 for a pair of school district referendums, school board members have been busy talking with community members and making their final pitch for the district’s $54.6 million upgrade plan. 

Members who spoke with the Observer – all of whom voted in favor of putting it on the ballot – said the measures will enhance the community. They say it will bring needed improvements to the schools while making the district – and in turn, Oregon – a more desirable destination for young families. 

Oregon School Board president Dan Krause said the community has generally been “very supportive” of the the district’s “strong” schools in the past, but he didn’t pull back much from Village President Steve Staton’s strong statement about what could happen if the referendums fail: 


Board prepares final adjustments

While most of the Oregon School District’s proposed $22.5 million tax levy for 2014-15 has been decided, the school board made a few final tweaks Monday night.

District business manager Andy Weiland said resident enrollment numbers recently came in “a little bit better” than expected, with about 30 more students than had been figured on when determining a preliminary budget.

“That definitely helped our financial situation this year,” he said. 

With a bit more extra money on hand, the board’s financial assets committee met last week to review budget and review recommendations from the administrative team. They made several recommendations that were unanimously approved by the board Monday, including:


Brooklyn fourth-graders organize fundraiser

During summertime, many schoolchildren like to take time off, relaxing or playing outside. Or, these days, inside - on electronic gadgets.

But Brooklyn Elementary students Ashley Wolfe, Danielle Palas and Maggie Templeton were busy thinking up ways to help their fellow community members in need. And they plan they dreamed up over the summer turned into quite a success.

The fourth-graders lead a food drive at the school last week that brought in more than 1,500 items for Oregon/Brooklyn Food pantry. Brooklyn Elementary School principal Kerri Modjeski said it all started during the summer, when one of the girls emailed her about having a food drive to support the pantry. Modjeski said they could do just that when school started, but when they met, she was amazed to get a whole business plan and marketing strategy, with posters and more.


Learning, security, efficiency

Renderings courtesy of Bray Architects. This design shows potential future upgrades for the Brooklyn elementary school.

Though the two Oregon School District referenda on the Nov. 4 ballot total nearly $55 million in various project costs, they are intended to be far more than just a “wish list.”

District superintendent Brian Busler said the need for the projects included in the referenda has been established over the past seven years. The projects are based on significant public input, and focus on the priorities of the Oregon Facility Master Plan. 

The school board had to pick and choose from that list, and it left out around $15 million worth of projects that didn’t make the cut.


State: OSD ‘exceeding expectations’

The Oregon School District exceeded expectations last year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) annual “report cards” of public school districts.

According to the report, the district scored a 74.8, placing it toward the bottom tier of the “exceeds expectations” category, which ranges from 73-82.9.  The grade is the fourth-highest among 16 Dane County public school districts.

The scores are based on student achievement, student growth, closing gaps and on-track and postsecondary readiness. Statewide, 159 of the 424 districts earned the “Exceeds Expectations” level, with only nine reaching the highest mark, “Significantly Exceeds Expectations.” Milwaukee Public Schools was the only district that “Fails to Meet Expectations,” according to the DPI.


OSD ‘referendum tour’ underway

With memories of two failed referenda in 2012 – and lessons learned – clearly in mind, Oregon School District (OSD) officials are reaching out to the public to make sure their message is heard loud and clear this time around.

After district residents rejected a $33 million referendum by a 58-42 margin two years ago, OSD officials spent nearly $10,000 on a survey that fall to find out what residents were looking for. Many people wanted the district to continue to press for a referendum, but they also wanted the district to be clearer about what they were asking for and why.

This time around, with two new referenda totaling nearly $55 million, district officials are holding a series of open houses and tours, designed to provide information to residents on the ballot measures. One centers on athletic, academic and safety upgrades and the other is for associated maintenance and upkeep.