What Will Wisconsin Look Like in 20 Years?

What Will Wisconsin Look Like in 20 Years?
Posted on 11/03/2016

As part of his listening tour around the state, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was in Menomonie on Tuesday, November 1, to host a private listening session with various stakeholders from Dunn County.  In addition to inviting me as the district administrator to represent our school district, we were also allowed to bring one teacher and four students- two each from Menomonie Middle School and Menomonie High School.

After Governor Walker greeted each of the meeting participants, the participants spent time identifying what we like best about our state, while the governor took notes on an easel pad in front of the group.  There were several positive comments related to our state’s countless natural resources, agriculture industry, tourist attractions, and recreational opportunities, but perhaps the most emphasized attributes listed about our state were the hard working down-to-earth people who demonstrate the kind of values, dedication, and passion so often associated with the midwestern population.  Our state’s fondness for certain foods, beverages, and sports teams were other mentioned items that the governor has also heard in each of the nearly 70 previous listening sessions that he has hosted.

The remaining portion of the listening session was spent with the governor getting input on how the group would like to see Wisconsin in twenty years.  While the list was too comprehensive to cover in one School Crossings column, some of the common themes included thriving business, agriculture and tourism industries, better access to affordable healthcare, clean water in our rivers and lakes, and a strong education system that aligns better with the needs of our state.

As I listened to the various stakeholders from our county, I could not refrain from constantly coming back to the importance of a strong public education system.  If we truly want to see our state prosper and prepare our children for jobs that will be needed in our local communities and economy, I suggested to the governor that our state recommit to a greater investment in our youth.

For the past several years, public schools have been asked to do more with less.  While it has been nice to see local school property taxes decline, this slight tax relief has come at a tremendous price.  In many cases, class sizes in public schools are higher, the number of quality educators is being diminished, and local school boards have had their hands tied by a lack of funding, various state mandates, and the statewide adoption of urban policies that have eroded local control.

The staff and students in the School District of the Menomonie Area have done a tremendous job weathering difficult times in public education with the help and support from many wonderful partnerships that we have with our local families, businesses, community, and other agencies like the City of Menomonie and UW-Stout.  If we truly want Wisconsin to thrive 20 years from now, we will need to expand upon these partnerships and elect lawmakers that prioritize public education and understand the importance and value that public education has on the future of our great state.

Should school families or community stakeholders have any questions, concerns or suggestions related to the School District of the Menomonie Area, I invite you visit me at the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue, or contact me at 715-232-1642. More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (www.sdmaonline.com), and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter (www.twitter.com/sdmaonline) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/menomonie.schools)