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Coleman School Board OKs New Sound System For Gym

If all goes well, guests at the Coleman High School graduation ceremonies on Saturday, May 31, will be able to hear the speeches and recognize names of students as they are called up to receive their diplomas.

At their meeting Monday, April 21, the board agreed to purchase at least the first half of a new sound system from Northern Sound and Video, but only after receiving assurances from owner Roger Ihde that he can have the necessary part of the installation done in time for graduation and will loan the school extra speakers when needed to insure sound in all parts of the gym until the second phase of the system can be purchased, probably next year.

Total cost of that system, with the options Coleman wants, is $19,040. Phase I was quoted at $7,494.11. The Booster Club is covering a portion of the cost, and part is coming from money paid for timber harvested from the School Forest. Superintendent Brian Walters said their idea was to have something done with the system in time for graduation. Ihde offered to do the whole project now and wait until next year’s budget for payment, but the board felt that would not be legal.

The other system, using an entirely different technology and a different philosophy of sound reproduction, had a total price tag of only $11,900. That system, favored by music instructor Kathy Bader as providing better quality sound reproduction, was offered by Phil Henrickson of Phil Henrickson Sound. Henrickson said he installs his systems in auditoriums and gymnasiums all over the country, and declared it would work at Coleman. However, board members were concerned it would be incompatible with their frequently used portable microphone system and opted for the plan Ihde proposed.

They also do not have enough money available this year and agreed not to encumber next year’s budget. They decided to go ahead with Ihde’s system, but just do the phases one year at a time. Ihde promised to provide service on equipment whenever needed.

In other action at a long and busy meeting, the board witnessed the swearing in of returning board member Joanne Nowak and newly elected Barbara Kraus Klug by Board President Ryan Wendt. Klug, a former employee in the district office, will replace Roger Heisel on the board starting with the May meeting. Heisel was presented with a plaque commemorating his 20 years of service and during a break in the meeting everyone enjoyed a decorated cake in his honor.

High School/Middle School Principal Doug Polomis announced that Jackson Margis is one of 32 high school students in the state awarded a 2013-2014 WIAA Student Athlete Award. The award, which recognizes athletes who excel in both sports and academic performance, will be presented at the WIAA State Banquet at Stevens Point on Sunday, May 4. This is the third consecutive year that a Coleman student has received the prestigious award, Polomis said, adding that Coleman’s Abbey Bieber was among the nominees, and, “even though she did not receive an award, just being nominated is a nice honor.”

The board approved the retirement of Sharon Rich, who has worked in the school’s food service program for 27 years, and the resignation of teacher Jody Kraus, whose husband has accepted a position elsewhere and she is moving with him.

High School science teacher Jason Strohl has informed the board he is resigning at the end of the current school year to accept a position elsewhere.

Due to the small number of students slated for next year’s 1st grade class they agreed without dissent to eliminate one 1st grade teaching position.

After the meeting that had already lasted 2 1/2 hours, the board went into closed executive session to discuss the position being eliminated. After returning to open session they voted unanimously to issue a preliminary notice of non-renewal for the 2014-2015 school year to Tammy Dantoine, who was hired as a first grade teacher last October.

During the earlier portion of the meeting, they approved a few changes to the student handbook for 2014-2015 as proposed by Polomis, mainly adding “tobacco look-alike” products to the list of items banned from school premises, and eliminating shopping trips and haircuts as reasons for taking days off from school. On the tobacco look alike issue, Board member Scott Herzog asked if the tins of beef jerkey would be banned since they may look like chewing tobacco. Polomis said he would use good judgment in administering the rule, which is mainly aimed at prohibiting e-cigarettes.

A rule that would reward students for having fewer than three absences in a semester by exempting them from certain semester exams is being considered by the board. Polomis said that policy has been successful wherever he has been, and it encourages students to learn reliability, which will be a plus when they are ready for the work world.

Last month the board had considered a request from Wisconsin Public Service to buy or lease a portion of their property near the sports complex to install a natural gas “Gate” system. Walters reported a check of their deed for the property showed in bold letters a restriction that the district can never sell it to a private entity. meanwhile, WPS has made arrangements to get the land they need from a farmer across the road.

In response to a request from Coleman Parents Wrestling Club, delivered in person by vice president Corey Kuchta, the board informally approved a request to allow 5th grade wrestlers to join 6th, 7th and 8th graders in the Middle School wrestling program. It was determined that formal board action is not required.

Kuchta noted other schools with 5th grade wrestlers in the middle school team meets include Lena, Crivitz, Marinette, Oconto, Oconto Falls, Seymour, Bonduel and 28 of the 30 schools in the Mega Conference. Supporters of the request included Keith Long, Middle School Wrestling Coach; Chris Gould, Assistant Middle School Wrestling Coach; Kevin Casper, High School Wrestling Coach; Jeremy Gross, Wrestling Club President, and Troy Blanchard, Club Vice President.

Kuchta assured Nowak that the 5th graders will not be allowed to wrestle 8th graders even if they are in the same weight class.

Walters displayed the plaques prepared for the dedication of the Ken Casper Ball Complex, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 19 with May 20 as a rain date.

Despite some expressions of disapproval and a long discussion, the board eventually approved the school calendar as proposed. Main objections were late start days rather than early dismissals for teacher in-service training, and to the administration’s decision this year to keep a day off as scheduled, while adding minutes to each day to make up for snow day closings. Wendt had raised objections to that decision last month, but the day off had already been taken and the minutes were added to the school days from now until the end of the year.

“If we wanted to, could we still change this?” Wendt asked when the calendar came up for approval. He didn’t get a direct answer, but Walters said a lot of work had gone into it, and the staff likes it. He said, however, that the state has just passed a new law by which school districts are no longer obligated to have classes on at least 180 days, but must meet a requirement for a specified number of instructional hours. The Coleman proposed schedule exceeds that by quite a bit, Walters said.

“Last year we had a day built in for weather but we had four snow days before that day off,” Wendt noted, adding that students and staff had the day off anyway and are now going to school 10 extra minutes a day to make up the lost time. “I have a pretty good idea what gets accomplished in that last 10 minutes of the day,” he concluded.

“I think that’s an insult to our educators to say they waste time during the day,” Walters hit back. He said two minutes are added to each class throughout the day at the high school level, not 10 minutes at the end. He said it is a long stretch from Christmas to Easter vacations and students and staff all appreciated the day off.

“The three days off next year, are they built in vacation days, or are they snow days?” Wendt asked. He said he had been surprised that the spare day this year had not been used as a snow day.

Nowak agreed with Wendt. “I was surprised that day was off. I expected it to be used.”

Mrs. Bader, from the audience, agreed with Walters about the long stretch between Christmas and Easter and said not only the staff, but also the students needed a break.

Board member Jeremy Hoida said he had received many complaints from parents about the new policy to have late starts rather than early dismissals for in-service days. In many families both parents work and they have a hard time getting someone to come in and get the children off to school.

Board member Jamie Graetz said he too had numerous complaints from parents who have difficulties with the late starts. He recalled they had discussed the issue two years ago and it was suggested arrangements could be made to have someone at the school to care for youngsters until school started if their parents had to drop them off early. Meanwhile, nothing was ever done.

Walters said there are many reasons for the late start instead of early dismissal. Mrs. Bader said when students know they will be getting out early they get over anxious toward the end of the day and learn nothing.

Walters also felt late starts are not good, but no one moved to make a change in the calendar. Walters said one of the Middle School teachers told him this was the most well thought out calendar he had ever seen.

Heisel asked if the added minutes total a full day, or if they make up the minimum number of minutes that counts as a day, and Walters assured him it is a full day.

Elementary Principal Kelly Casper and Polomis presented class offerings and schedules for next year, and Polomis expressed thanks to Mrs. Uecker-Guth and Katie Sailer doing much of the work in putting them together. He said a lot of work goes into it, particularly since some teachers share their time between middle, elementary and high schools.

In her report as elementary principal, Kelly Casper said some youngsters in the 4K program started school very young because the Head Start program closed and they had baby sitter issues. Teachers don’t feel some of them are ready to move on to regular kindergarten, but several parents have so far declined to sign permission papers to hold them back.

The board ended up voting unanimously to approve the calendar and to accept the schedule.

The board accepted the donation of some tree trimming work from Darren Bucksa of Bucksaw Tree Service for trimming a locust tree away from the flag pole and hauling away the branches.

Casper reported on some upcoming testing in the elementary and middle schools, and that led to questions from the board as to how much time is being spent on exams and whether there should be so many. Casper and Polomis both said they are looking at eliminating some that are not required by the state.

Polomis and Casper reported on events at their respective schools, including the Blood Drive on April 30. They expressed hope people will participate, because there is an opportunity to raise money for scholarships.

The Junior Prom will be Saturday, April 26 in the gym.

Casper reported on some in-service training, including three days that Darla Brehm of CESA-8 had spent in the district observing teachers at work for a survey aimed at learning, “what we are doing and how we are doing it.

“She said she would send her children here,” Casper declared of Brehm. “She said we are very fortunate to have such awesome teachers!”


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