Balance needed for RBHS coverage

I request that the Landmark adopt one of the most important components of journalism – balanced reporting – when reporting on Riverside-Brookfield High School. Your coverage of RB requires community members unfamiliar with RB to question continuing support and parents to question whether their children should attend.

The problem with your coverage is that negatives about RB receive regular full-length coverage while positive coverage is sadly lacking. In addition, your “go to” community members to quote are a handful of parents that have never found anything to like about RB.

You seem to get pleasure from riding and disparaging RB volunteers and organizations doing much good like the Booster Club and its board. You allow these same the glass-is-always-half-empty individuals to ride school board members chosen by the community and doing what they believe is best for RB and the community.

RB is a great school. RB provides diverse academic and extracurricular opportunity. It is not only highly rated but students receive awards annually for music, math, art and many other areas.

My children are a current RB junior, a future RBer and two graduates that enjoyed stellar educations and sports at RB. Both RB graduates were accepted at every college they applied, received academic scholarships, and continue to compete in their sports in college. These results are familiar amongst RB graduates.

Can RB improve? Of course. I have personally raised issues with school administrators and school board members. Should the community remain vigilant and keep a watchful eye on the school board, faculty and RB organizations? Absolutely.

However, balanced reporting requires both devoting significant more space to positives about RB rather than a significant majority to negativity and also talking to some of the other 1,000 or so families to find out about the real RB.

Tim Walsh

It’s time for Herbst to go

The proximate cause of the deficits reported in the Landmark at Riverside-Brookfield High School is a contract we could not afford when it was “negotiated” and signed by then-Board president Larry Herbst.

The contract provides annual salary hikes of more than 5 percent for five years, totaling a cumulative pay increase of 32 percent.

All responsibility for this rests with the board majority, led by Herbst, and including now-president Jim Marciniak, Sue Kleinmeyer and MariAnn Leibrandt.

It is time to seek concessions from the teachers formally and forthrightly. Many of RB’s teachers are first-rate and every one of them deserves some security in their income expectations. But the teachers must acknowledge that this community can only do so much.

Other significant spending cuts must be made as well. Our triple-dipping re-employed annuitant athletic director (salary, pension and coaching stipends), is a good place to start.

Finally, but most significantly, it is time for Larry Herbst to step down from the board. As one who has praised Larry for recruiting Dr. David Bonnette and making serious attempts at community involvement, I believe the district has lost whatever confidence in his leadership it had. Surely, it will not approve new funds for RBHS if he is to have a role in their management.

Larry’s tenure will rightly be noted for accomplishments, such as the building program, and a long list of failures, including most prominently the Jack Baldermann fiasco.

Even as of Jan. 24, Larry – and interim assistant principal Troy Gobble – appeared as favorable references on Jack Baldermann’s consulting website. Obviously, their doing so represents personal equanimity over the turmoil Jack brought to RB.

In other words, they just don’t get it. After what we have been through, it is fair to assume they never will. This shows that Larry – and Troy – resolutely face backward, and are incapable of bringing about the future RBHS richly deserves.

Mopping up Larry Herbst’s deficits from his profligate contract make it abundantly clear: It is time for him to go.

Chris Robling

Here’s an alternate revenue source

Is it possible that the Brookfield firefighters would not have had to give concessions to the village if the village of Brookfield would start charging the businesses along Ogden Avenue for the removal of snow from their sidewalks, so that those businesses’ cars can park their cars on the sidewalks?

Ted Schwartz

Smarter govt. spending the solution

Reading the letters over the last few weeks is like going to an office party and remaining sober, just watching the actions of the party-goers. It’s amazing the actions and reactions you see in criticizing and defending one another’s actions and comments.

It’s no secret I supported President Obama, because our country needed a new direction and a change. The same can be said for my support of Mr. Gorman and his RCA Party. Riverside needed a major change and a new direction. While both may have made decisions we’re not happy with, I feel we are on the right track for a better future.

I’m sure we’re all tired of this back and forth bickering and casting barbs at each other. It’s not necessary. Just reading minutes of past years’ board meeting minutes is proof enough of who did or did not do what to whom.

It’s also no secret that the whole country is in financial trouble, not only our village. We all have to work together, not against each other.

Raising property taxes is not the answer; spending it better is the solution. If we do consider raising property taxes, we must first bring the village board, school boards, state senators and representatives to the table and fix state funding for our schools. It has been half-heartedly tried in the past but it was political suicide to do so.

I do not understand the total lack of outrage at the actions of both our school boards – a no-fuss five-year teachers contract, a back door bond sale two years ago, $58 million for renovation of the high school.

Mr. Bonnette admits that over 75 percent of RB’s budget goes to salaries and benefits, and they are growing faster than the 2.5-percent yearly property tax growth. They want to have a referendum to increase our tax bills with no mention of cutbacks.

District 96 pays its superintendent more than our vice president, gives him a car allowance, pays all of his insurance for him and his family and contributes his portion of retirement plus the district’s.

Has anyone looked at our tax bills we just received? Do you know that 60-plus percent of your tax bill goes to the schools, while 10 percent goes to the village? And we wonder why the village has no money.

It’s time to hold our school boards accountable, renegotiate contracts or make deep cuts. Remember the only money government gets is from us, and it’s getting scarce.

Frank Vlazny

Township food pantry gives thanks

A big thank you from the Riverside Township board and staff, on behalf of the Riverside Township food pantry, to every individual, family group and organization who generously donated to the pantry during this past holiday season.

Because of you kindness, Riverside Township was able to not only meet the needs of the 40-plus individuals and families who use the pantry every month, but also provided full meals for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

This past year-and-a-half has seen a dramatic increase in the number of residents availing themselves of the food pantry. It is through your ongoing contributions that Riverside Township is able to provide food to those who are struggling during these difficult economic times.

Currently the food pantry is running low on all non-perishable items. Please keep this in mind the next time you run to the grocery store.

Rich Tuscher, supervisor
Riverside Township