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Police Called to Help with Protesters at Greenfield School Board Meeting

The scheduled space couldn't hold the 130 protesters that came to the meeting, and the crowd was upset when the board refused to change locations.

Updated at 9:55 p.m.

Frustration with the direction the Greenfield School Board and its administration is taking boiled over Monday evening as protesters flooded into and briefly took over the regularly scheduled board meeting.

Dozens of protesters and speakers berated board members and district officials, voicing their displeasure with how the district teachers are being treated now that collective bargaining is prohibited.  

"We want a quality educational system; your actions don't match. You need to do something about that," said Andrew Misorski during the public comment period of the meeting.

The show of frustration stems from a number of changes Greenfield teachers have faced this summer due to the end of collective bargaining. These changes include a longer work calendar, an amended employee handbook and a new benefits package that requires them to pay more for their retirement and health benefits. 

"You have a choice; you can work with your employees and their union … or you can choose to do what you exactly have done - ignore the union and thereby ignore the rights of the employees," another speaker said. "These are honest, decent working people … they (the teachers) are no different than you. They have children, they send their kids to college, they have your values, yet you make unilateral decisions … Shame on you." 

As the regularly scheduled meeting began protesters, some with signs and others wearing T-shirts that displayed their support for public education, filled the meeting room to capacity with dozens more waiting to get into the room.  

"Move the meeting. You have to accommodate your public," protesters shouted before the meeting got underway. 

"We do not," superintendent Conrad Farner said in response, riling the crowd even further. 

School Board President Bruce Bailey began the meeting by slamming his gavel and shouting for order. The raucous crowd responded by chanting "shame" and yelling in unison for the meeting to be moved to a larger room to handle the approximate 130 protesters.

The protesters outside were not allowed in the meeting due to a 95-person capacity in the meeting room, Bailey said. 

Bailey also told the crowd he was unable to move the meeting because the agenda notified the public it would be held in the administrative building. He also told the crowd he is obligated to show the meeting on closed circuit television, only available in the meeting room. 

"Scoundrels," one protester shouted before Bailey attempted to move the meeting along through the agenda. 

About 10 minutes after the meeting began, arrived. Police officers stood outside in the lobby of the meeting room. One officer spoke on a cell phone as the others, it appeared, waited for instructions. 

Some protesters stood outside, watching and listening to the meeting through open windows. Others listened and watched in the lobby, peaking in through open doors. 

During the meeting, more than 100 people sat or stood in the meeting room, according to two head counts that included board members and district officials. 

After gaining control of the crowd, Bailey worked quickly and forcefully through the agenda.

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read you will August 25, 2011 at 11:41 PM
I attended a meeting this spring in the high school cafeteria - it was packed (standing room only). The crowd included many parents and employees of the Greenfield School District. Mr. Farner got a standing ovation. Seems like he has a pretty good reputation to me.
John Seymour August 26, 2011 at 01:41 AM
That was in the spring. You have no idea how bad it is. He does not have a good rep. anymore.
Ron Tramm August 26, 2011 at 01:52 AM
Julie, I'm not sure what you are truly explaining on how benefits and retirement packages are paid via your school system...could you please explain with a little more clarity? In the private sector, one pays for their health insurance, flex benefits(if offered), and 401k contributions prior to tax, social security, and medicare withholding for each pay period? What we're seeing and what's being reported now is that Act 10 is working by eliminating CBA's It's in the CBA that allows WEAC to negotiate and sometimes dictate to school districts that they have to use WEA Trust for their health insurance. Now we're seeing school districts like Germantown reporting a $1,000,000 savings and yet still providing WEA Trust insurance. Now WEA Trust has to be competitive within the helath insurance market place so they are now forced to negotiate better terms to the school districts, which in turn less of a burden on the budget and ultimately the taxpayer. Now I realize that some of the cost savings is the fact that state, municipal, county and school workers are having to put more money into their health care and their pensions, but in the end not one single teacher or school program has been layed off or cut. I hear screaming from teachers that classrooms sizes are going to get bigger...but how is this possible with no teachers lost other than by normal attrition?
Ron Tramm August 26, 2011 at 02:13 AM
Julie, I've also done my research and based on that, if the Greenfield school district were to maintain the number of teachers in each grade level, I am seeing a downward trend in enrollments. So naturally class sizes will be reduced. In Maple Grove Elementary School there is currently a student to teacher ratio of 13:1. Much lower than when my kids went through. The highest of the 4 elementary schools is 20:1. The Middle School is 15:1 and the High School is 17:1. Now I'm not saying that this is true in all school districts in the metro area, but this is an article concerning Greenfield, so I will address their current situation. There may have been a slight uptick in retirements, but for the most part it shouldn't affect class sizes. I no longer have children in school, but I am willing to pay as long as I see the best bang for my buck. Greenfield's average ACT scores were posted for last year and frankly scoring an average of 21 is not what I would consider the best bang for my buck.
Ron Tramm August 26, 2011 at 02:23 AM
John your argument would hold water if and only if these were Greenfield teachers that were disruptive because of their dislike of their boss. But for the most part these were WEAC members from other school systems. Again I would like to know what WEAC's end game was here. While there may be many things in the 'handbook' that the rank and file may find unappealing, this 'handbook' protects them as well as the administration. Just like in private sector job handbooks, it spells out the work environment, the hours that one must report to work, etc. Without one in place, what is to stop the 'management' from imposing their idea of what should be in the handbook? If Farner is as divisive as you say he is, at the end of his contract he would likely be non-renewed, because I can't see the school board continue going down that road if he blasts them when he doesn't get his way.
John Seymour August 26, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Greenfield teachers are currently scared to death to say anything against Conrad. He will do everything he can to destroy people who disagree with him even on small issues. If you are in a meeting with him and speak up to disagree with him he goes off and swears and screams. His true colors will come out soon enough. I've been in on meeting where he calls the boards "idiots that I can control." They are nuts if this is the guy they think should be the leader. Again, I AM NOT DEFENDING THE BABY TEACHERS THAT WERE THERE. I am only letting people know what is really going on.
Jim August 26, 2011 at 03:41 AM
Ron Tramm....have you ever stepped foot into a classroom at Maple Grove or any other of the Greenfield schools in the last 10 years? If you have, you be shocked to see your "researched" data of 13:1 is WAY OFF. Try closer to an average of 28:1. Stop by and check a class list of any elementary classroom in the district sometime! It's a crying shame to have a kindergarten class of close to 30 five year olds because there are people out there like you who claim things that aren't true. Get your facts straight.
Julie August 26, 2011 at 04:42 AM
In my past experience, the school district will have a set amount of money to work with to compensate salaries/benefits for their teachers. Health insurance costs/retirement contributions are a part of that amount. Base pay is set/established, retirement contributions made by the employee are set aside, and THEN the rest of the salaries are established across the scale, with the bigger increases typically going at the base to attract new teachers, decreasing in amount as your years of experience increase. If you sit at the highest point of the schedule there was really no substantial increase in your salary for years, but your health insurance and retirement contributions were still intact. School districts were NOT required to have health insurance from WEA Trust - another piece of myth that seems to have become fact. The district I work for is self insured despite the teacher union's best efforts in helping them try to look elsewhere for health insurance cost savings. They refused! How was THAT the union's fault? Program cuts are coming - wait until after third Friday count. Class sizes in my district ARE larger - teachers are just NOW being allowed to look at their class lists. Many teachers were displaced, but were able to transfer into different positions that they were certified for. You need to look at how many teachers actually retired, and that will tell you how many LESS teachers there are.
Julie August 26, 2011 at 04:44 AM
Ron: You cannot take total school staff and divide to get class sizes. There are staff in a school that do not stand in the front of a classroom and teach! Again - talk to a pubic school teacher to get the most real and accurate information. They are the ones in the classrooms....
UudyJa August 26, 2011 at 07:13 AM
Ron, please do dig a little deeper-for instance, a couple of freshmen soc. studies classes @ GHS w/ 39 students in them or how bout the new AP stats class w/ 41. And as Julie states above, insurance has always been negotiated locally-Greenfield teachers have not had WEAC ins. in the past-however, that's an untruth which has apparently been successfully spread...and the teachers are intimidated by Sup Farner...and now that there is no longer protection by a contract, why shouldn't they be? Yeah, he's the boss, so maybe that seems appropriate to some, but I would rather everyone work together (not just the brown noses). The larger (not nec. local) agenda is for the public schools to fail-and then we'll move onto privatizing. That will make some very happy....
morninmist August 26, 2011 at 10:52 AM
You are one that will need to buck up. Here is a song to sing as WE RECALL WALKER. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYpYIEVhMI8 Scotty We're Coming for YOU
morninmist August 26, 2011 at 10:55 AM
Robert. I was there and is was heartwarming to say the least. Over 100 thousand, some say 120,000 thousand. Yes the next step is to recall Walker. Listen to this lovely song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYpYIEVhMI8 Scotty We're Coming for YOU video. Scotty, We're Coming for You
morninmist August 26, 2011 at 10:57 AM
Wonderful song to inspire you all as the new school year starts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYpYIEVhMI8 Scotty We're Coming for YOU video. Scotty, We're Coming for You
morninmist August 26, 2011 at 11:09 AM
As I read these comments I see a jealousy, --a meanness jealousy from the private sector folks. Yes, if you are honest with yourselves, it is a jealousy. And you have Scott Walker to help you play your hand.
morninmist August 26, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Read the embedded polls in this article. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/conservatives-cant-stop-falsifying-what-happened-in-wisconsin/2011/03/03/gIQANyOkdJ_blog.html Posted at 11:09 AM ET, 08/25/2011 Conservatives can’t stop falsifying what happened in Wisconsin By Greg Sargent ,,,,,,,,,, You don’t have to take my word for this. Listen to Politifact — and even to Walker himself. At the outset of this fight, Walker tried to claim that he had, in fact, campaigned on his union-busting proposals. But when Politifact asked Walker’s aides to produce evidence of this, they were unable to provide anything even remotely convincing, and Politifact pronounced the claim “false.” What’s more, Walker himself subsequently admitted under persistent questioning that he had never explicitly campaigned on a promise to roll back bargaining rights. And once Walker did spring his surprise union-busting proposal on Wisconsin, the state’s residents resoundingly rejected it in poll after poll. That labor and Dems were able to gather the signatures necessary to stage an unprecedent amount of recall elections is itself testament to public rejection of Walker’s plan...........
Ron Tramm August 26, 2011 at 01:40 PM
morninmist, I'm not jealous of what a teacher does or earns, but please tell me what is the largest expenditure any school district has in common. I hear constantly that all of this is in the best interest of the children, and then see nonsense like what happened at the Greenfield School board meeting and school closures due to teachers feigning illness to attend protests in Madison. Actions speak louder than words. Julie and Uudja, I am not quoting school staff numbers, but rather Full Time Equivalent Teachers. Currently there are 67 FTE teachers in Greenfield HS, with an enrollment of 1124 students. Now some of you teach math skills. You do the math. I will agree that there are classes that have larger numbers...And again I ask you to look back into your math texts and review what averages mean. But so far no one has explained to me what the end game WEAC had for this particular incident. Is no one willing to say with clarity what this was about?
Ron Tramm August 26, 2011 at 01:56 PM
Julie, You do realize that is how the private sector operates as well. I am currently out of work and have been for the past 2 years because I work in the building trades. But in terms of my wife who is a nurse with 30+ years of work experience has also reach the top pay scale for her position, with only meager increases. Her current department, has limited budget for FTE's. Once those positions are filled, no matter the work load she is required to be there and stay until the work is done. She is a salaried employee, so there are times she has had to put in overtime hours for no extra pay. In my past work history, I too was a salaried employee, and during peak season has had to work anywhere from 70-80 hours per week with no increase in pay. But I knew full well what I was getting into as well as my wife knew what she was getting into. I don't necessarily agree with how Walker and the Fitzgeralds handled this, but it is what it is. Will there be a recall? I would assume there will be. Can Act 10 be repealed, one never knows. I hope that teachers will be professional when they step across the threshhold of their classrooms, but in years past during contract negotiations there have been Greenfield High School math teachers that brought those negotiations into the class rooms in the form of equations. That in my mind is out of the realm of professionalism.
John Seymour August 26, 2011 at 02:01 PM
What would you like the largest expenditure of a school district to be? Buildings, grounds, fancy stationary???? Education is a people business. It takes people to educate children of all ages and backgrounds. This costs money and will always be the #1 expenditure of any people orientated business. It is even the #1 cost for private schools. (And before you argue that they do it cheaper the tuition a most good private h.s. in the area is between 8,500-12,000...without special ed. students) As far as your argument towards the number of teachers/staff, you are not taking into account the amount of staff that work in the area of special needs. Most often, by law, these students will have a 1 on 1 or a 3 to 1 education situation.
Ron Tramm August 26, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Jim, Sorry just noticed that the information I looked at was for Maple Grove in Hamburg Wisconsin. Upon further looking the information I come up with is 18:1 . I am in no way saying that there will be higher numbers in particular classes, but rather the average for the school.
John Seymour August 26, 2011 at 02:17 PM
The average for Maple Grove is going to be skewed lower because they house the CD program in which students have a lower student to teacher ratio based on special needs and IEP's which are required by federal and state laws. When you look at the class lists you will see very high numbers. The 30 kids in a kindergarten class is way too high. That is the most important year in school now as they are expected to come out reading (unlike when most of us went to school that was a 1st grade expectation).
Ron Tramm August 26, 2011 at 02:32 PM
John, I'm not arguing individual class sizes...I'm not arguing prep time...and I'm not arguing that teachers don't deserve to earn a living wage. What I am arguing for is to see the best return for my tax dollar. That is are kids achieving what is expected of them Again this article is about the Greenfield School District, where both of my kids went. I see an average ACT score of 21. Not nearly where it should be. I understand that the teachers in Greenfield have worked their entire careers under contract situations, and now there is a change in that these work environments are now under the guise of a handbook. I find it hard to believe that the district would completely change from contract to handbook. If it is a radical change one can assume that there would be a exodus in teachers over time. Again not one of the teachers here has told me what the expectations were for this protest. Were they expecting to subvert the current process and force the district to negotiate a contract with them? If so that would be against State law as it currently stands. Should there have been input by teachers and administrators alike...I can't say for sure. The one thing I know for sure is that the school board now has a new set of critieria mandated by the state to work within. And this protest was not going to change that. So for now they simply delayed the process and won't know until after the school year starts what's in the handbook.
John Seymour August 26, 2011 at 04:42 PM
If you are arguing for the best return for your dollar then you need to consider the following: Mr. Farner hired 2 additional assistant principals this year at a cost of roughly $200,000. He also hired someone to run special ed., a data coordinator (not sure what this person does), in addition to the math coordinator and reading coordinator that they already had. A total compensation cost of over $400,000. Then he and Todd Bugnacki complain that they are overworked? What else is left to do. How are these positions helping further the education of the kids. If you want to know what the problem is in Greenfield it is that the top 2 administrators have no idea how to organize a school district and therefore the teachers are floating in the breeze on what to teach so that it flows k-12. Most effective districts have 4 central office administrators. One for curriculum, one for special ed. so all laws are followed, one for the business and accounting aspects, and one for human resources. That's it. I'm not sure how $600,000 dollars of new administrators are helping. 7 strong administrators (principals and assistants) left district for a reason. They know how screwed up it is. As far as what the teachers are trying to accomplish, I'm not sure. It is a radical change for some not to be under a negotiated contract. My guess is that given time, this will change.
Julie August 26, 2011 at 05:28 PM
Ron: You are making an assumption when you comment that WEAC had an end game - I for one heard about these issues from fellow teachers, not WEAC. My voice and opposition to what is occurring in Greenfield is not generated by WEAC, but my myself. If you have a question for WEAC, ask them. I am speaking as a public school teacher in this state.
Julie August 26, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Ron: FTE teacher could mean Special Ed. teachers, whose case loads are handled differently, Speech Pathologists - that do not have a class, etc. You cannot make that assumption based on those numbers. You need to get more details. Again, ask a teacher at that particular school. Going from a negotiated contract to a "handbook" is huge. The district has been left to their whims about what to include or not include in these handbooks. This will affect working conditions, which in turn affect learning conditions, which in turn affect the students. Are you stringing this together at all yet? Teachers are speaking out not only for themselves, but for what their students will also be encountering. If we don't speak at the board meetings as these things are being created, when would you like us to speak? Or, is that the point - you just want us to be quiet? Obviously, that is NOT going to happen!
Ben Hogan August 26, 2011 at 07:28 PM
Julie: I think Ron's point was what was accomplished with all the loud and disruptive behavior? Even if the board wanted to listen and possibly change something in the handbook they could'nt even communicate with all the shouting.
Ben Hogan August 26, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Shouting, name calling, and rude behavior rarely accomplishes anything in this world. If you want to speak and be heard sometimes a softer voice gets more attention.
David Cotey August 26, 2011 at 09:40 PM
Hello all. This afternoon we took a closer look at several factors that led to Monday's protests, including the letter to teachers everyone is talking about and the decision to not move the meeting.
grs August 27, 2011 at 04:01 AM
They don't understand (or chose not to), Julie. Their "solution" is to drag everyone down to their miserable level instead of fighting for equitable solutions for all. Brutish, shameful and cowardly behavior. Let's be thankful they are not teachers! Thanks for continuing your dedication to the profession, in spite of the vilification from the mean-spirited and misguided.
grs August 27, 2011 at 04:09 AM
Ron: I am sorry you are out of work. It is shameful that so many corporations are moving jobs overseas as they search for cheaper labor. Our country is the richest we've ever been and it is terrible that your wife and you are/were being exploited by your for-profit organizations so the top could earn extra cash at your (and others') expense.
Ron Tramm August 27, 2011 at 04:35 AM
grs, Thank you for your comments, I do find outsourcing to be a singular largest outrage that our pols are impotent to change. Not that they can't, but rather are in the pockets of so many PAC's and lobbyists that they won't. But I owned my own contracting company and made the decision to close the doors because building just isn't happening. Secondly my wife works for a non-profit. And the only ones we are/were being exploited by are our own politicians. They place more importance in special interests and rhetoric....this applies to both sides of the aisle.

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