The summer days keep rolling along as the Chequamegon School Board held its regular meeting July 23 to discuss ramping up for the new 2019-20 school year.
There was good news for the board which had been very concerned over finances, including an anticipated deficit. However with some of the finance director's finesse and shrewd decisions, the news was that the deficit had been cut to a far more reasonable amount.
In May, the first introduction to the budget deficit was feared to run as high as $738,500 and the estimate is now much lower.
The budget update as presented by Lexi Witt at the July meeting was briefly reviewed and will not be final until October.
Highlighted as a part of the difference were budgets that included revenue from local sources up to $17,000 higher than anticipated; consortium grants were $9,000 higher than
expected, state revenues are expected to be nearly $70,000 and there will be $107,000 additional revenues coming in from Federal Forest monies.
District Administrator Mark Weddig said that he has come to truly appreciate the work of Witt that he described as outstanding.
Weddig said that the district is extremely appreciative of the check for $60,000 received from the Forward Bank which will complete the fundraising efforts for bleachers at John McDonald Football Field and track.
"That is just amazing community and district effort," he said. "Led by Mike Mader and supported by [football] coach Pearsall and 10 football players, the concrete slab necessary to allow the bleachers to be assembled was poured." It is anticipated that stands will be ready in the first half of August.
Weddig said with the addition of some signage to the front of the bleachers promoting Chequamegon and Forward brands there will be a celebration at the Aug. 23 football game.
He reported to the board that there were 23 different summer school classes which totaled 34 million student minutes.
"That all goes to increase our revenue for state aid, he added. "We also are proud to say we had 100 music students."
Tim Kief, high school principal and administrator for Class ACT Charter School said that the class of 2020 did very well on the ACT tests they'd taken. The class had a predicted score of between 18-20 and they achieved the state average of 19.6.
"The five-year trend across the state is in a significant decline of 0.3 while CSD is beating that trend with a significant 1.4 point increase." Kief said.
Weddig said that he is optimistic that more community members will begin using the Chequamegon Fitness Centers.
"We have the facilities and we'd like to see them used more," he said.
The fitness center in Glidden holds hours from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and also on the Park Falls campus with hours from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Both are open Monday through Thursday.
He emphasized that the first two visits are free. Six visits would only be $20 with a monthly pass costing $30. Chequamegon District students who are over 13-years old are free.
Weddig has been promoting a program to business leaders to encourage them to consider halfprice corporate rates. Darren Patterson is the Fitness Center coordinator.
There will be pool hours offered November through May from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday, and from 5:30 a.m to 7:30 am. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The centers offer a variety of equipment including treadmills, ellipticals, weights, fitness balls, and exercise bands.
The district will be postponing the replacement of the district's boiler.
"There has been a great deal of uncertainty with our boilers and HVAC systems and we don't want to find ourselves in the middle of that project and scrambling to provide heat for the children," Weddig said.
So as in the past the schools will be using wood for one more year.
"We are taking steps to make that process much safer for the custodians who must go into those silos," he said. "We will be requiring the use of harnesses inside the silos and no one should ever work alone. We are getting a safety plan in place."
Weddig said when there is a better plan for replacing the systems they will move forward. The district has been using wood for supplemental heat for the past 45 years.
At their regular meeting on July 18, the Prentice School Board learned what is going on in the district as administration prepares for the coming school year.
With the significant change of having all staff and students under one roof this school year, high school principal Melissa Pilgrim reported that district administration and a variety of teachers had gone through a two-day leadership training program offered by the district's Cooperative Education Service Agency (CESA 9).
In addition to analyzing the district's assessment data to determine which areas need special attention this year, staff also spent time looking at how to make the most of having all employees and students in the same building.
Reading and literacy will be a primary focus of the district over this coming year, according to Pilgrim, who reported that while the district's scores are good, they are not improving. District administrator and elementary school principal Randy Bergman reported there are also significant gaps being seen between male and female students at the elementary school level, and special education students as a whole.
"We are in a holding pattern right now," Pilgrim told the school board. "There's not a lot of growth, and we're trying to understand why. Reading is something you do in every core subject, even math. If we all focus on the same goals, it will make it easier."
A team of district employees will attend a second training experience in August, focused on school threat assessment.
Bergman updated the school board on the ongoing construction at the school. There had been some minor hold-ups in recent weeks, with the wrong lockers arriving for the new wing and a delay in the installation of electricity and plumbing. Bergman reported he had requested more electricians and plumbers be brought on staff in order to complete the project on track. New, correctly-sized lockers will replace the ones at the school.
There have been several incorrect rumors going around the community, Bergman said, ranging from one that the technical education department is going to be cut to a rumor that school's start will be delayed by two weeks. Bergman clarified that neither were accurate, and said that if any members of the community have questions or
concerns, they are welcome to call his office to get factual information. Software updates have resulted in the need to replace approximately 100 of the district's aging computers, which cannot run the new Windows 10 software. Without the software update, the computer firewalls will no longer protect the computers from malware.
Bergman reported that these computers could essentially be used as chromebooks for the students, meeting their needs while not jeopardizing any potentially sensitive information.
Board members present considered applicants for a number of open positions in the district. Board members Anna Mundt and Emily Blomberg were not present at the meeting.
Bergman reported the district would like to hire a long-term substitute special education aide Kathryn Wild as a full time aide during the 201920 school year.
It was reported that two of the district's teachers, Cal Kraegenbrink and Kati Isaacson, had expressed interest in the position of athletic director, which they would like to share the related duties for. Bergman said it was a hard job, and division of labor may be a good solution. The teachers already had creative ideas for getting students and parents involved in the district's various programs.
The position is currently worth $4,500 annually; Bergman reported the two employees would like to receive $3,000 each. It was reported that Moriah Main had applied for the position of high school science teacher, recently vacated by Quan Banh. Pilgrim reported she came highly recommended from her previous positions as aid at Rib Lake and student teacher at Medford. She had applied for the position in Prentice as she would like to use her degree and license to teach science.
It was reported that she had already met with Quan Banh and high school science teacher Mike Dunbar and was interested in building on the gardening programs started by Banh, and was also interested in forming a science club.
Bergman reported she would start with a 75% contract with the understanding that her hours would be added as her schedule grows.
Interest in the position of head football coach was expressed via letter from Chuck Knaack, who would like to serve as a one-year interim head coach.
All positions were unanimously approved by board members present.
• The 2019-20 professional staff employee handbook was approved unanimously with a few minor changes.
* The board unanimously approved allowing Bergman to look for a vehicle for school district employee use, at a price range up to $15,000.
* The board unanimously approved continuing with Community Financial Bank and Nicolet National Bank as the official depositories of district funds.
* The school board approved the district's activity accounts, which contain funds for a variety of school groups and projects such as band and choir, the National Honor Society, the basketball team, and the school greenhouse. It was reported that there are approximately 30-35 accounts in total, and about 25 which are in regular use. Board member Dianne Gierman requested that an updated list of the activity accounts be provided to members of the school board.
• Professional staff base wages were approved for the 2019-20 school year, after school board president Randy Erickson stated an agreement had been reached with the leaders of the professional staff.
• The school board convened into closed session to consider data related to district administrative responsibilities and salaries, as well as bus driver responsibilities and compensation.