Just because the Chequamegon School District year has concluded doesn’t mean that there aren’t staff or school board members wrapping things up, working and planning for the upcoming year, 2019-2020.
The school board met on June 25 to review the many items on their work lists that have been completed — and some that remain to be accomplished.
The district’s Information Technology department has always got a long list of accomplishments and this year was no different, especially with the emphasis on adding security equipment. As a part of that IT system, there are staff members who have started the monumental job of designating class schedules for all students most structured by computer.
There have been four weeks of summer school for students offering a variety of well-attended classes from healthy cooking and mystery science to technology classes.
District finance director Lexi Witt reported she has been looking at meal prices and has come to the conclusion that the district has a positive food service budget so it will not have to raise lunch prices by at least 10 cents as required by the National School Lunch Program. Current prices for breakfasts are $1.25 for kindergarten through fifth grade students and $1.50 for those in grades six through 12. Lunch prices are $2.55 for kindergarten-fifth grade and and $2.90 for sixth-12th grade and will remain the same.
District administrator Mark Weddig updated the board on last month’s discussions on starting an education-based childcare.
“We would look at this as a recruiting tool for quality teachers by offering childcare to our staff at a discount,” Wedding said. “The plan is to offer four spaces for small babies and the rest would be for toddlers.”
He said being teachers have been finding that children who have gone through the education-based child care are far more ready to make the transition to regular classrooms.
“We have the room and it has already been inspected and we are told we could handle 16 toddlers and four infants,” Weddig said. “There has been a lot of interest and we think we could make this work.”
Besides saving spots for teacher’s children, he said he’d like to “sell” the premium program to area businesses so they might offer a bonus to employees they either value or who they would like to recruit.
There would be “Wisconsin Share Supplemental” payments which could help low-income families.
“That’s my real goal, to help those who have to work and do not have reliable responsible daycare for their children,” he noted. “I am asking the board for their opinions. Should I go forward and try to start up this small scale daycare and then look at options for the future if it is successful?”
Board members David Schmidt and Doug Rein were not enthusiastic and voted against going forward.
Schmidt said he was worried about having a whole classroom of toddlers and infants and how those little students would fit in with the security drills and other protective measures.
“I question that we can keep them as secure as the older students,” Schmidt said.
He said he had concerns about getting them in and out of the school safely and Rein said that he was concerned that this was a “want” and not a “need.” He felt that parents would spend even less time with their children if they had this daycare option.
“It is a big bonus for teachers and I think it will help us draw high quality teachers to our district,” Weddig said.
He added that he believed the program would help boost populations in the future as a certain loyalty to the district could keep kids from “opting out.”
Witt said a separate fund would have to be set up to keep the finances straight.
“The long term benefits would be having those children perform better in the future,” Weddig said.
The board voted five to two with one abstention to go forward with seeking a director for the program.
There has been a “Seeds to Table” program going on with the gardening beds at the high school which was reserved on a first-come basis. There is water on site and the gardeners will be offered seminars with local Master Gardeners. There may also be cooking and preserving classes.
“The gardeners are asked to contribute 20% of their fresh produce from the beds to the Lord’s Cupboard so those in need can have fresh produce,” Weddig said.
He went on to report on the new backpack program that sends some students home with two to four meals after it was found that there are a number of students who go without food over the weekend.
There have been 87 backpacks made up on average.
“We’d also like to have a stock of non-perishable foods that can be packed up in the event of snow days,” he said.
“I am encouraged our school bus drivers and custodians make sure the food is distributed to all the schools,” he said. “We have had a great deal of help from volunteers at the Lord’s Cupboard and Northwoods Community Credit Union.”
The program was expanded to be active in the summer and is distributed by the Park Falls Public Library.