There's no individual reason he came to the decision to tender his resignation from the Shorewood School Board, an emotional Michael Mishlove said this week.
"There's no way for me to articulate it in such a way that captures the essence of what was going on," he said.
However, Mishlove, who in an email to board colleagues and school administrators formally resigned from his seat on Saturday after more than six years, said changes on the board made the work not as enjoyable.
"I invested myself and immersed myself completely in the work I was doing for the School Board, and I enjoyed it immensely, but toward the end, it was a new School Board and the dynamic that emerged and developed was one in which I came not to have as much enjoyment in what I was doing," he said. "Life is too short. When you find yourself doing something you don't enjoy, you need to move on.
"I'm a guy who spent 15 years in college and I'm very passionate about rigorous education," he said. "And, I was passionate about maintaining that in the Shorewood schools."
Paul Zovic, the School Board president for more than a decade, decided not to seek re-election in April 2012. David Cobb won the election for the seat. Rob Reinhoffer was chosen as the new president and Colin Plese became the new vice president.
He said the only regret he has from his time on the board was cutting Spanish education for some elementary school grades, and is glad he won't be on the board when it examines teacher retirement benefits other than pensions.
"I'm very relieved to get off the board before the post-retirement benefits for teachers gets eviscerated," he added. "I see that on the horizon. I believe public school teachers should have retirement benefits and I'm very glad I'm not going to be here when that day comes."
With public schools forced to find ways to operate with less funding, Mishlove said he's proud of the way the board tackled budgetary issues.
"My years on the board were hardly halcyon times for the school district," he said. "It was six-and-a-half years of reduced state aid and trying to do more with less. And I think we did a pretty damn good job, doing just that."
He said he had a personality on the board, and when he was newly elected to the board, the information presented to the board was inadequate, "mush" and lacking details.
"I always cut to the chase about it, and asked about it directly and very genuinely in a straightforward manner and people aren't used to that, and I think it ruffled a lot of feathers," he said. "I think over the six years I was on the board, the bar was raised in respect to the quality of information that the board came to expect and demand from administrators or whoever else was presenting to us."
He added he believes it has led to better decision-making and greater transparency.
Plese said the board has seen a lot of changes recently and he's sorry to see Mishlove leave.
"He was integral in labor negotiation, with teachers specifically," he said. "He was instrumental in policy development and I joined that committee when I came on the board and he taught me a lot going through policy and looking at it very critically."
Reinhoffer echoed Plese's comment, in a prepared statement on Wednesday.
“I would like to thank Michael for his service to the school district and to the Shorewood community and in particular for his expertise in labor negotiations and school board policy updating," he said.
How will the district fill the vacancy?
The district announced Wednesday it would begin to accept applications for the open seat.
The board will review the procedure to fill the vacancy and discuss the skills and attributes it will seek in applicants at its next regular meeting slated for Nov. 13.
Officials will then collect résumés, conduct interviews and select a candidate at a meeting on Dec. 11.
That new board member will be required to run again for the seat, if they decide to, in April.
Kim Grady, superintendent’s office secretary, explained three seats will be up for election and the person who finishes third will essentially fill Mishlove's seat and continue to complete his term, which ends in April 2014. At that point, that board member’s seat will once again be up for re-election for a three-year term.
Applicants must be adult residents of Shorewood and must submit a letter of interest to Mr. Marty Lexmond, Superintendent, c/o Shorewood School District 1701 E. Capitol Dr., Shorewood, WI 53211. Letters must be postmarked no later than Nov. 30.