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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Auditor Reports Crivitz School In Good Shape

“Poverty is the biggest limiting factor in the United States Educational system,” Crivitz School District Administrator Patrick Mans told the Board of Education at their meeting on Thursday, Dec. 19. He was reporting on the findings of a recent worldwide study of educational achievements of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world. He declared that contrary to comments critical of the American educational system, “Our schools are not failing...but we are pulling apart.”

He said United States students tested above average in reading abilities, and just slightly below average in science and math in comparison with test results for students from other parts of the world.

The big difference here, the limiting factor, he said, is poverty. Mans said because of glitches in the funding system, there are huge differences in funding for school districts. Spending in Crivitz is about $9,200 per pupil. Some districts in the state are allowed to spend $14,000 per pupil. That $4,000 per student difference would add $3 million a year to the Crivitz budget, Mans said.

It started in the 1990s, when school district spending was locked in. High spending districts were allowed to continue spending more, while frugal districts, such as Crivitz, were locked in to lower spending caps. Added to that, state aid formulas penalize “property rich” rural districts and reward city districts, which traditionally spent more per student.

In general, students from the higher spending districts tended to achieve better scores.

Another “unknown” in analyzing results of the worldwide education analysis is determining which students were chosen to be tested. In the United States, there is universal education, and students were chosen at random. Mans said he has not seen how students were chosen in other countries, and so far no one has been able to give him the answer. If only the better students at the better schools were tested in some nations, the tests did not compare apples to apples.

He gave special thanks to Ginger Deschane and others who helped with the benefit for Joey Pickett, and to Crivitz Village President John Deschane and Police Chief Mike Frievalt for their help with the Christmas concert. He declared the generous work of volunteers reflects the spirit of of the district.

Board President Mike Dama, who chairs the Buildings and Grounds Committee, said they have been looking at a shortage of space for equipment in the weight room and are looking at doing some partnering with the new Crivitz Community Center.

Mans said health screenings by the District’s insurance provider would take place the following week. He said staying healthy helps keep premiums down. The Wisconsin Education Association insurance rate, which had been going up each year, apparently is going down for 2014-2015, “which is a good thing, and based on our former use of the health plan.”

Crivitz has joined with a consortium that includes Pembine, Suring and Bonduel to share the risks and keep costs down for everyone.

Buildings, Grounds and Transportation Director Tom White reported that new security cameras and servers are now completely installed and already are doing their jobs. He said the newer cameras provide much clearer pictures and the additional coverage they provide of both buildings has already been used to detect some culprits in the act of vandalizing one of the buildings.

The elementary lighting upgrade is progressing and should be completed by the Dec. 31 deadline. Fixtures on the third floor have been replaced and work has begun in the wood shop, with the second floor to be started the following week, and then the art room.

Weather has created several problems with one of the busses and with the Elementary School building.

White said on Monday, Dec. 9, one of the morning busses experienced engine trouble due to the cold temperatures, and he used the School Messenger system to notify parents and staff that the bus was running late.

Heavy rains and subsequent freezing exposed a serious leak in the grade school wing roofing, White reported. Areas on the roof froze and tore. A warranty claim was submitted and the leak was repaired.

A water pipe froze and burst in an elementary bathroom and needed to be repaired, White reported. He said radiators in that area do not supply enough heat to keep that from happening again, so they are looking at ways to provide more heat for that area.

Cold temperatures also caused a steam heating coil to rupture. He said fortunately they were able to have it repaired and avoided purchasing a more costly replacement coil.

High School Principal Jeff Baumann reported on assembly held Monday, Nov. 18 titled, “Piercing the Darkness.” It was hosted by Three Screen Productions and dealt with students making good choices. It was shown on three screens and put heavy emphasis on thinking before doing, and on how bad choices affect many people, not just the individual making the choices.

Baumann thanked Michelle Krzewina once again for donating four Green Bay Packer tickets that were awarded as PBIS prizes. Names of all students with no tardies or referrals to the office were put into a drawing for the tickets and the lucky winners were Melody Semrau and Austin Banaszak.

Baumann congratulated this month’s “Lunch Bunch” winners. They were Cody Bates, nominated by Deb Tomaszewski,and Dylan Wiedemeier, nominated by Sharon Bernier. He also congratulated November’s Students of the Month, Courtney Kaldenberg and Raina Mertz, and Athletes of the Month Zach Timblin and Vicki Neuman.

Elementary/Middle School Principal Jeff Walsh thanked Mr. Dorscnher and Mr. Meyers for the work they put into coaching Middle School Boys Basketball this year. Their regular season has come to a close, but after the holidays some will do tournaments, Walsh reported.

The school’s Christmas Band and Choir Concerts were to be the following night at the high school.

Elementary/Middle School students viewed a Three Screen production on Bullying.

Walsh thanked the McDonald’s Corporation for awarding the school up to $500 in funding for a Healthy Hearts Healthy Minds Running/Walking Club during lunch period, and also to piggyback on a walk/run event Mrs. Gruszynski has in spring for all the kids. The money will be used for incentives and prizes for the participants, Walsh said.

He reported that a fun day was planned for Friday, Dec. 20, to reward the students “for doing such a great job with behaviors this year.” Music for a sock hop and karaoke event for the entire school was provided by Paris Nights.

Student Council Representative Billy Retza reported on the Rube Goldberg competition, purchase of an autoclave for science, and Christmas caroling. He said the school’s blood drive gathered 40 pints, which was five above their goal.

The board approved a trip to Minneapolis for Cheerleading team members, and gave them an excused day on Friday, Feb. 7, as requested by Kellie Stumbris. They will leave school early Friday for the 3-day competition trip, and come back late Sunday night. “Last year Crivitz kind of took it over and came home with a whole lot of awards,” Stumbris told the board.

The board also approved a one-day class trip to the Mall of America in Minneapolis for the Business Education Class on Saturday, Jan. 11.

Lists of volunteer chaperones, substitute teachers, teacher’s aides, and kitchen staff, were accepted by the board, and they also okayed hiring Ruth Poh for substitute clerical help and Kitty Nelson as a substitute custodian. The substitute teachers approved were Sandra Wellens and Ruth Ann Cook.

Resignation of the Girls Volleyball Coach was accepted.

Prior to the board meeting the Finance Committee had reviewed the district’s 2013-2013 audit report prepared by auditors Kerber and Rose, and as the last item on the agenda for the open portion of the meeting the board accepted it after a presentation by Karen Keeley via “Skype.” She said right now the District is in good shape, and all the information the auditors looked at was supported by the proper documentation and was recorded properly. She thanked school staff for their help in having all the information they needed ready to use.

The District had an unrestricted fund balance of $42,000. They recommend keeping a 20 to 50 percent fund balance on hand. Post employment benefit obligation currently is $2.2 million.

“You need to have an actuarial study done,” she advised. She said there had been a decrease of $190,000 in the fund balance since 2008. Total assets of the district were $10.6 million at the end of the audit period, and the district has $1.25 million in “current liabilities,” which is debt they expect to pay off in a year.

On recommendation by Mans the board approved a 3-year contract with the Skyward computer program, which includes a $3,000 savings through their customer loyalty program.

The board agreed to provide space in the school for a for-profit student counseling service offered by Laurie Lawrenz. She said she will offer counseling to Crivitz students in the Crivitz building. She said it’s no secret that drugs are a big problem in Marinette County, but she hasn’t seen much of student substance abuses. However, she added, “Some of the kids I’m seeing are actually raising their parents.” She said 58 percent of the people she sees in Marinette County are affected by sexual assault. Lawrenz said she also offers counseling in Wausaukee, and adults clients will be seen there, not at the Crivitz School.

Mans felt more students will take advantage of the counseling if it is easy to access and does not require parents to provide transportation. That will be a benefit for those who need it, he commented.

On Baumann’s recommendation the board approved a pass/fail grade for students in guided study halls, in place of letter grades. In any case, the study hall grade did not and will not count toward the student grade point averages.

The board spent a bit of time discussing Baumann’s request that some money for uniforms be provided in the 2014-2015 budget. “Something has to be done soon,” Baumann declared, adding there have been no new uniforms purchased by the school since he began coaching in 2007. He suggested they put a cap of $10,000 each year on team uniforms, and purchase them on a rotation basis.

Dama wondered how many programs need to raise their own money. Stumbris said the cheerleaders buy their own uniforms.

Mans felt providing uniforms “is something we should do for our teams.”

One of the coaches present did not agree with the proposed rotation list, “I feel it should start where the old one left off.”

“If you don’t like your place in the rotation, raise some money,” Dama somewhat jokingly suggested.

Board member Tim McFadden felt the school should buy uniforms for the teams it sponsors, and asked how much money they make from ticket sales at ball games. He noted stands at sports events are always packed. He was told despite ticket sales, the teams cost the district more than they bring in.

Talk then turned to how the board will dress for graduation. Mans said the item had been placed on the agenda so they could discuss going back to dressing as they did in the old days, when board members wore caps and gowns for the graduation ceremony. Dr. Early did, and Mr. Rieden did, he commented.

“I’m kind of proud of people that attained their education,” Board member Lyle Cherry commented. He said the ceremonies should be impressive, and they should dress accordingly. “It makes the ceremony more of a ceremony.”

Board member Cory Sotka agreed the caps and gowns would make board members stand out, yet all look the same.

There were some joking comments about paying for the caps and gowns, and Baumann suggested, very tongue in cheek, that they could put the board on the rotation list, or if the board didn’t want to wait a few years, they could order their “uniforms” early and do some fund raising to pay for them.

Later in the meeting the board approved putting the money for sports uniforms into the coming budget on the rotation schedule as Baumann suggested. Dama abstained from voting because he is a volunteer assistant coach for girls basketball, and the rest of the board voted in favor.

The cap and gown decision will be on the agenda again for the January meeting. If the decision is for the board members to wear them, they need to be ordered in March.


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