Ted Klumb is a Commercial and Residential Real Estate agent with First Weber and CEO/Founder of TKOR, LLC property management (www.tedklumb.com). He lives and works in Menomonee Falls, is a graduate of UWM, and is married with two children. Ted is also a former member of the Menomonee Falls School Board, a faith development music teacher, and musician who’s enthusiasm far exceeds his talent.
“In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.”
This quote was brought to my attention, by my 82 year old friend, when I sought his advice as to whether or not I should run for school board in 2004. He blithely quipped, “If you decide to run you will certainly have the qualifications Mark Twain expects.”
That being said we have much to discuss in this community. Here are some random observations from this idiot’s time as a board member that might be useful for a discussion.
Board members represent voting members of the community who elected them. The demographics range from parents with kids of all ages, to the elderly on fixed income. Some want to spend more, much more, while others believe drastic cuts are needed. Many are ambivalent.
How does one reconcile this disparity? I chose the philosophy to provide the best school district that this community could afford. Easier said than done, but doable, and now a necessity. Like any noble cause such as churches, the Red Cross, YMCA, and charities, they all have limited resources. Proclaiming the cause of education as being the greatest cause of all, may well be true, but will not change the resource dynamic no matter how unfair it may appear.
At my last board meeting as an elected official, there was a protest with a lot of people speaking publically. Many citizens told us we needed to approve the contract. That is fine, and is their right, except that nobody speaking was supposed to know what was in that contract. Yet, they wanted us to just sign it and move on. I suppose many with sub prime mortgagees and their lenders, did just that. Only one person in the community chastised both sides and said, get it done. That made sense. Only one voice, in the entire community said to hold the line. That was unpopular but courageous.
Another responsibility a board member must respect is the teachers and staff of the district you represent. In Menomonee Falls it was not a hard thing to do. I would take on a third job if my wife and I were the least bit dissatisfied with the education here, but we are very pleased, so we remain. It would be irresponsible for any board member to not work to make their district one where only the best teachers want to work. As representatives of the community and taxpayers we wanted them to always know they were appreciated. The work they did was invaluable but, we couldn’t always express that with the checkbook. My boss was the taxpayers making deposits into the account and their resources were limited. Today taxpayers are hurting too and their resources are less. They are making sacrifices or they are losing their homes.
Our teachers did not walk out on our kids. They did not take their issues or frustrations out on our kids. No teacher here ever made my kids pay for my opinions. They looked me in the eye and told me to my face. This is the mark of a professional who cares.
Sometimes I have failed to deliver what I promised, but, I have never promised something I knew I couldn’t deliver. This is essential when people are planning their lives around what you are promising, especially when you really care about those people.
This is the challenge your school board of 2011 is facing today.