Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Update: Walden parents, Unified work through issues surrounding school

Update: We're told Walden's meeting with Racine Unified's administrators went well. Many of the problems listed below have been addressed, or at least answered. Here's the minutes of the meeting, as provided by the Walden PTA:

August 24, 2010, 10:30 am

RUSD Offices
In Attendance:

RUSD Staff: Dr. Shaw, Frank Jarosz, David Hazen, Bob Holzem

Walden III PTSA: Patrick Flynn, Lisa Scott Ptacek, and Jane Finkenbine,

Maintenance Update/Progress to Date:

Frank Jarosz provided a detailed list of work orders that have been completed in addition to those we had listed. Overall a tremendous amount of progress has been made on the facility.


Security System
  • Cameras have been installed at the entrances and in the hallways, not in classrooms.
  • Access card readers at the doors – can control entry by employee, date, and time.
  • Entry for visitors will be through the front door; monitored by camera
  • Monitor is at Cathy’s desk
  • Security film is recorded and kept for a determined length of time (2 weeks?), then taped over.
  • West wing stairs reinforced and will receive tread cap; should be completed before school opens.
  • Nearly all steps have been repaired. The basement stairs across from gym are still in progress; the stairs leading down from south door have not been addressed.
Window Shades
  • Quite a few needed replacement
Minimal electrical work was completed

Windows in the West Wing
  • Spent $3,500.00 in repairs
  • Storm windows are equipped with screens purchased for West Wing at $100/each – a great price!
  • Tom Kohl has one installed now; others to follow

  • Halls completed
  • Patching – Frank saw some peeling paint on inspection last week and entered new work orders. Girl’s bathroom upstairs still needed work
  • List of PTSA Concerns
Sink hole at the back door is still troublesome. Frank will take another look.
PA System
  • Our current system does not reach all rooms or the hallways. Dr. Shaw considers this a safety issue and asked that this be remedied. Dave Hazen will have Tim in the Electronics department look into it.
Locker Rooms
  • They are located under the gym and Bob stated that they are in very bad shape. This needs to be investigated further.
Painting the Classrooms


Frank Jarosz and David Hazen will work on creating a district policy that will allow us to get this done.


RUSD consultant advises that no volunteers be allowed to paint due to lead paint regulations

PTSA asked that we continue to seek a solution, and offered several ideas:

· Use volunteer crews headed by an EPA certified painter

· Provide training for all volunteer painters

· Have a certified EPA painter do all the preliminary work so that volunteers do not come in contact with any chipped paint or handle any preparation

· Have volunteers do the taping and the clean up before and after painting; hire an EPA certified painter to do the painting

· PTSA could pay for the cost of paint, training, and EPA painter.


We must set sound parameters that can be referred to and replicable in other circumstances

· Any plan must be approved by the RUSD advisor

· Painting must be supervised by an EPA certified painter

· Any group must be willing to meet stringent guidelines set by you

Status of the Art Room with Asbestos
  • Leadership Racine will continue to work on raising funds; RUSD will provide assistance when fund raising is completed.
  • We now have two classrooms available for Computer labs in addition to the Asbestos room.
  • Bob will talk directly with Leadership Racine regarding how we should move forward.
  • New computers for student use are at the school and waiting to be installed.
Solar Panel Proceeds
David Hazen will look into this.

The understanding that funds saved by the panels would be segregated for Walden use must be verified. It comes in the form of a credit on the electric bill, not as cash on hand.

PTSA explained that the fundraising campaign and the grant stipulated that the cost savings on utilities would be awarded back to Walden for Green School initiatives.

Walden’s Future
Dave Hazen reviewed the referendum plan.

Walden would be in Phase II of the reinvesting process. The school would be replaced, maybe on the same site (either on adjoining park or the south parking lot). Ground breaking could begin as early as spring of 2012, but more likely that will be delayed. Much effort would need to be done in regards to the design of the school and grant writing. The estimated cost to rebuild Walden is $35,000,000.

The long-term plan is to replace Walden, and therefore doing expensive structural repairs to the building is not a wise financial investment.

Phase I focuses on elementary schools because they are less expensive to build. In addition, it will free up Olympia Brown to serve as a middle school.

Phase II will address Walden and Park, two schools that are expensive to operate, and the goal is to have smaller high schools with a maximum enrollment of 1800 students.

RUSD is working with Gateway to build a Middle College which will alleviate overcrowding in the high schools.

Furniture replacement
Bob Holzem indicated there is nothing of any use available at Caddy Vista. RUSD does have some shelving units they recently removed form RUSD central offices and they will make available to us. We need to coordinate this through Frank and get the units to the classrooms that requested shelving units

3rd Floor of the West Wing
This section of the school is inhabitable for public use (school attic)

Dr Shaw invited us to join him on a tour of Walden on the 1st day of school. We will take a look at the locker rooms at that time.
Bob will outline the criteria in which we can bring this back to life, which will include a class on bike safety. Possible solutions include having a Phy Ed teacher take it over and do it in the spring, or starting a bike club.

Lisa and Patrick discussed ideas of creating new trips sponsored by the PTSA that could include family participation.

Original Post: A group of Walden parents met with Racine Unified officials Tuesday morning to raise a number of issues about their children's school.

Patrick Flynn, Lisa Scott Ptacek, Jane Finkinbine and other Walden parents were scheduled to meet with Unified Superintendent James Shaw and other administrators.

Issues the parents planned to raise included:

1. PAINTING OF CLASSROOMS: Are there any circumstances where parents, students & staff can volunteer to paint rooms. If not why? Is lead paint still a concern, if yes, why is it not being addressed?
2. WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF WALDEN'S FACILITY? Where is Walden's place in the referendum time-line?
3. STATUS OF THE ASBESTOS ROOM? Is RUSD doing anything to clean this up? How can we help?
Where is the money that was generated from the solar panels?
The Walden III Students and Families raised a tremendous amount of money to purchase and install these panels. To continue driving our Green Initiatives, It was our original understanding that the proceeds generated (Or cost savings) from these panels would be used at the sole discretion of the Green School Committee. To the best of our knowledge, the Green school has not received ANY of these funds and we speculate that RUSD has decided to use them for other purposes. Can you help us understand how that money has been handled up to now and how it will be managed in the future? We would like to report back to the students and Walden III Families on how this is being managed.
5. DILAPIDATED FURNITURE IN CLASSROOMS: It is our understanding that Caddy Vista may house furniture that could replace much of Walden's distressed furniture chairs, etc. How can we obtain that furniture to replace that in need at Walden III?
6. 3rd Floor of THE OLDER BUILDING AT WALDEN III: Is this section habitable for student activity? Could we use it for a computer lab or other resources?
7. SINK HOLE AT REAR EXIT: This has been filled but is continuing to sink and seems to be a hazard. Is there anything RUSD can do to correct this?
8. BONG BIKE TRIP: This has been canceled due to safety concerns. Do you know what those safety concerns are? This has been a long standing Walden III tradition and has overwhelming support from Parents, Teachers and Students. We have absolutely no shortage of chaperones for this event and the former teacher who coordinated this event has also offered to help lead this. Is there anything we can do to keep this tradition alive?


  1. These are all legitimate questions of course. The problem is that Unified has a monopoly on "free" education, so they can dismiss your concerns with little or no consequences. Good luck getting accountability from an unaccountable bureaucracy.

  2. Dennis: Actually RUSD has been very responsive to our concerns and has addressed just about every one of them. They are working with us to find creative solutions and have been very supportive.

    We are working together to create a healthy and safe environment for all those who work and attend the school.

    It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. Shaw, Mr. Hazen and Frank Jarosz and the Walden III Principal, Bob Holzem.

    Patrick Flynn
    Walden III Parent

  3. Great, then I look forward to the next article where the above questions are answered.