Posted on Feb 10, 2015
Keeping New Berlin moving forward
A coalition of groups has been quietly working to align the city's resources with the needs of its schools, businesses and community. John Kegel, chair of Moving New Berlin Forward, introduced us to the organization during our Feb. 11 meeting.
The seeds were planted several years ago, John says. Act 10, passed in 2011, resulted in cuts to state aid to schools. That prompted the school district to search for new resources. One thought was to get businesses engaged with the schools. Business breakfasts were used to gain input, but attendance was modest.
In early 2013, Superintendent Joe Garza suggested forming a committee to include service clubs, the chamber of commerce, mayor's office and the school district. Its goal was to "get all those people talking and working together," John says. The group's name reflects its mission. John, who is Senior Project Manager at Selltis, LLC, has served as chair of Moving New Berlin Forward since its inception.
Their meetings, typically held the first Thursday of the month, involve the mayor or his staff, the Superintendent or his staff, a school board member, and various business leaders. In addition, a pastor or two will attend, John says.
John ticked off a number of accomplishments:
- Launched a program to help prepare students for college, career or other opportunities
- Established Career Day in the schools
- Created an online job board
- Expanded course offerings to include offsite curricula; a certified nursing program is one such class
- Created Biz Town, which exposes 5th graders to business-related matters
- Enrolling 75 students--roughly 12% of high school students--in co-op and apprenticeship programs
- Collaboration on events. Discover New Berlin Expo is one example
While there is a great partnership with the School District of New Berlin, Moving New Berlin Forward is also working with private schools. Those include Holy Apostles and, in fall, Heritage Christian School.
Looking ahead, John says they would like to see more businesses participate in Moving New Berlin Forward and partner with the school district. "We're trying to help all of you anywhere get engaged," he says. They hope, also, to enhance collaboration with Waukesha County. Anyone interested in participating is welcome to call John at 262-613-0703.
Finally, John offered a plug for this year's Discover New Berlin Community Fair, on March 20-21 at Eisenhower High School. Friday is geared toward businesses, while Saturday's programming is aimed at families.
Also during this meeting, we received a recap of the murder mystery dinner. Rotarian Stephanie Friemoth says that they're still tallying the results, but it appears we netted at least $4,500. That contrasts with last year's event, which raised $3,100. Another example of growth: We had 27 raffle baskets this year compared to 13 last year.
She invited the group to select the theme for next year' murder mystery. We chose, " '80s Prom Gone Bad." Stay tuned!