Monday, January 28, 2008

John Lemberger for School Board

John Lemberger is running for School Board. I do not follow the school board. What little I do read does not bode well. I am fully unqualified to write about the school board, but I do know John.

John is a fifth generation Lemberger who has resided in Oshkosh. He is a very devout Christian who strongly thought about becoming a Roman Catholic Priest as a young man. He stayed in school long enough to get "Dr." in front of his name, raised a family in Oshkosh, and is still just plain "John" to me and you. He is Dr. Lemberger at UWO (where he works) but the rest of the time he is just some guy named John walking a dog on the east side. He cares deeply for this city and all who live here. He is a visionary but very pragmatic.

John has my vote in any endeavor he undertakes and I suggest you vote for him too. Here is the body of an email I received from him:


Hello, My name is John Lemberger and I am running for the Oshkosh school board because I care deeply that children have the best learning environment possible. An important part of such an environment is an effective system of neighborhood schools. I believe that children have social and emotional needs that must be met before they are ready to learn. Small, neighborhood schools do the best job of meeting those needs. Consequently, small neighborhood schools also do the best job of raising student achievement, especially for children of poverty and minority children. (I invite you to read the research yourself. A summary can be found at: was alarmed when I found out that the current Oshkosh school board was planning to close three to six more elementary schools. I have been told that if Oshkosh doesn't consolidate, we will have to lose programs. I have yet to hear a clear explanation of why we will lose programs if we don't consolidate. What is crystal clear (from talking to a wide range of people in Oshkosh) is that the proposed $46-$60 million referendum needed to fund this plan will not pass. Since this isn't slated to go to referendum until 2009 (as reported in the Northwestern), the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) will have spent several years on an initiative that will leave us with no progress towards bringing equity to the children in several schools that badly need renovation. I am therefore in this race as an advocate for retaining and renovating our neighborhood schools.This will be especially challenging because both nationally and at the state level it is likely that we are heading into a period of inflation and recession. Because of this bleak outlook on the economy, the OASD will have to move forward cautiously. A referendum in the $46-$60 million range at this time would be reckless, and I believe unsuccessful, because the voters in Oshkosh will be feeling the economic pinch. I would support a series of smaller referenda that target one school at a time for renovation over a period of 10 or 20 years, depending on the performance of the economy.To deal with our current problems, we must work through the Wisconsin School Board Association to put pressure on the state legislature to change the school funding formula. The state formula for school funding is a disaster. The Oshkosh school system isn't broken; the state funding formula is. I disagree that we have to "fix" our school system because of the budget problems the funding formula creates. Until the state changes the formula, we should ask through an annual referendum to exceed the state budget caps. The people of Oshkosh are smart and pretty generous. They understand the problem with the state funding formula and budget caps. I think the current BOE is underestimating the people of Oshkosh by not asking for permission to exceed the caps to save our neighborhood schools and programs.Please vote for me on February 19th (primary) and April 1st and I promise that I will be a strong voice for neighborhood schools. Thanks, John

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