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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Crivitz Schools Are Ready To Celebrate

Crivitz—With the entire area gearing up to celebrate the district’s 100th birthday on Saturday, Sept. 7, Crivitz School staff was busy preparing for the opening of school on Monday, Sept. 3. The School Board was pleased to learn that the maintenance staff had “gone above and beyond” to spruce up the buildings for the new school term and the visitors expected during Centennial observances.

High School Principal Jeff Baumann has much riding on the outcome of the football game with arch rival Wausaukee. He said he has a wager with Wausaukee Village President Hilbert “Slug” Radtke by which if Crivitz loses he must wear Wausaukee colors to school on Monday, and if Crivitz wins Radtke must wear a Crivitz jersey to his next Wausaukee Village Board meeting.

(It turns out that Radtke may only need to pay off once on two wagers, since it was learned he also has a similar agreement with Crivitz Village President John Deschane. Unless there is more to this story, if Crivitz loses Deschane and Baumann must both sport Wausaukee jerseys at school or on official village business, but Radtke can only be penalized once if Wausaukee loses.)

The football game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, following a free pot luck tailgate party.

The Centennial fun begins with a Wolverine PTO carnival from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday afternoon on the elementary school playground. In case of rain the carnival will move to the high school. Other events include a parade on Saturday morning, a fund raising run, and dances with live music on friday and Saturday.

At the District Annual meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 27 there was more to celebrate. Despite a sharp drop in money most rural school districts are expected to receive in state aid for the 2013-2014 school year, Crivitz School District taxpayers will receive only a slight hit in the pocketbook. The scant “crowd” heard a detailed review of the proposed budget by Business Administrative Assistant Linda Tarmann and then unanimously approved the proposed tax levy of $6,939,481, up slightly from $6,775,950 last year. This will will translate to a property tax rate of about $8.2148 per $1,000, an increase of approximately 21 cents per $1,000 over last year, equivalent to a $21 raise in school taxes on a $100,000 home. Last year’s tax rate was $8.0187 per $1,000.

Dama said the board has been very frugal, and praised the student body for the fund raising efforts that enabled them to buy things like new uniforms without using taxpayer dollars. He said the district used to replace uniforms every five years, and now provides no money for this purpose. Mans commented Baumann and Walsh have somewhat become fund raising specialists.

The only non-school residents present were Ken Dama, Lois Dyer, and a Peshtigo Times reporter. School staff and Board of Education members on hand included Superintendent Patrick Mans, Board Attorney James Kalny, Tarmann, High School Principal Jeff Baumann, Elementary Principal Jeff Walsh, District Secretary Jannie Marsolek, and School Board members Tim McFadden, Martha Neitzer, Lyle Cherry, Cory Sotka and Board President Mike Dama, who was elected to chair the meeting. Board members Jane Meissner and Travis Mueller were absent.

Tarmann explained the tax levy is set by electors at the Annual Meeting, and the rate, which depends on equalized value of properties within the various municipalities in the district as well as state aids, is set by the board after all the numbers from the state are finalized in October.

School tax bills are then added to other levies and mailed to property owners, generally in time to be what Tarmann termed somewhat unwelcome Christmas gifts from the county, technical school, state and municipalities. She jokingly suggested the timing could certainly be improved.

Crivitz School District includes the Village of Crivitz and all or part of the towns of Stephenson, Middle Inlet, Beaver, Wausaukee, Lake and Riverview. After many years of increasing equalized value of the district, the last seven or eight years have seen the total value of properties decline. The drop this year was 1.12 percent, down $9,605,193, from $$845,019,176 to $844,892,871. This compares to a drop of 3.95 percent in equalized value last year and 2.87 percent the year before, which accounts for a good portion of the tax rate increase.

The mill rate for 2013 is still slightly below the rate of 8.174 mills a decade ago. The 2012-2013 mill rate of 8.02 was among the five lowest of the 27 schools in CESA-8 and well below the state average of 10.21.

Other business of the annual meeting included retaining school board member salaries at the present rate of $1,500 per year per board member and authorizing reimbursement to board members for actual expenses they incur while representing the district at meetings or conventions or otherwise performing duties for the district.

In routine actions, the board was authorized to retain legal counsel for prosecution or defense of any action or proceedings in which the district is interested, furnish free textbooks but charge for unusual or unreasonable wear, provide school milk, lunch and breakfast programs and pay for any operating deficits, provide student transportation, borrow amounts the school board deems appropriate, and dispose of school property if determined surplus by the Board of Education.

All votes at the Annual Meeting were unanimous.

In his Annual Meeting message to the community, Mans said the past school year saw the beginning of several major changes to public education in Crivitz and across the state.

Fiscally, with the expiration of existing contracts there was an end of the collective bargaining agreement between the professional staff and the school district. The District can no longer pay the staff contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System, health insurance deductibles and premium shares were increased for all staff, and passage of the biennial state budget means an approximately $150 per pupil increase in the revenue limit for the next two school years.

Educationally, the district is transitioning to common core state standards; the state mandated educator effectiveness teacher/principal evaluation model based on educator practice and student achievement; the Smarter Balanced State Assessment System which itself is based on the common core state standards, and to Response to Intervention (RTI) which is aimed at providing help and resources to struggling students.

Mans said with the end of the collective bargaining agreement the district was able to work with the professional staff in finding ways to reduce staffing costs, which resulted in more money being available for use in the classroom.

“This was critical, as state support for public education dropped significantly over the past three years,” Mans declared. He said although the state government cut public education’s ability to raise revenue in the last biennium, this past summer saw the governor and the legislature pass the current budget, which increases funding for public education. “The increase does nor get public education funding back to pre-2010 levels but it is a move in the right direction and is much appreciated,” Mans said. He added that through sound fiscal management and hard work of the entire staff, the district remains fiscally and educationally strong.

Dama, Mans, Baumann, Walsh and Building and Grounds Supervisor Tom White at the regular monthly school board meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 21 had high praise for work the custodial staff had done throughout the summer to spruce up the buildings in preparation for the new school term. Colors, design and overall appearance of the new flooring at the elementary school was highly complimented, as were the wall colors chosen to set them off. Students and their parents had a chance to preview the redecorating during an open house on Thursday, Aug. 29.

Walsh was pleased to report that Crivitz Middle School has been awarded a 5-year “LEA Cohort Grant”, funded by the Wisconsin State Personnel Development Grant. The grant will provide the Middle School with on-site coaching for staff development, supportive partnerships with statewide resources and induction into an online community of other committed educational professionals that will go on for five years, subject to annual review. Debra Ahrens, project director, was to work with Mans and Walsh to provide more information on the next steps. With the grant, Crivitz joins a “cohort” of 26 grant schools with a joint mission of increasing educational success for students, according to Stephanie J. Petska, director of special education, division for learning support, of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.


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