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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Crivitz School Gets $170,000 Sparsity Aid, Gives 2% Raise

A happy superintendent Patrick Mans reported to Crivitz School Board on Wednesday, Aug. 20 that this year, for the first time since 2008, the district qualified for “Sparsity Aid” from the state, and would be receiving $170,000 that had not been anticipated, and that would not affect revenue limits. As a result, the board agreed to give 2 percent raises to staff members, which adds approximately $47,850 to the 2014 budget. The district had a pay freeze for the entire staff last year.

The personnel committee had previously recommended the 2 percent raise if there was money available, and Mans told the board he was prepared to advise them to go into the fund balance to pay for the raise if they had to, in order to retain and hire quality staff, “but now, with the Sparsity Aid, we won’t have to.”

At the Aug. 20 meeting, and again at a brief special meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 26, preceding the annual meeting, the board laid final plans for the Sept. 2 opening of school. Staff members began preparations on Tuesday, Aug. 26, and staff in-service was to continue through Thursday afternoon, culminating with a district wide open house from 1 to 3 p.m.

Everyone had praise for the appearance of buildings and grounds, and the fine work done by the custodial and maintenance staff.

The board accepted the district facilities plan study done by ESG Energy Savings Group. Information presented by Josh Hounsel, Scott Jones and James Ronsted showed that there are opportunities to save substantial money on energy expenses. After viewing the presentation showing guaranteed energy savings possibilities depending on the level of implementation, the board agreed to study the plan and act at a subsequent meeting.

“We have found ways to significantly reduce your operating costs,” Hounsel told the board. Some of the options are self funding, with savings that will show up so quickly that there would be virtually no budget impact except for long term cost reductions.

In his report to the board, Mans said news of the sparsity aid arrived in late July. To receive it, districts must be in a high poverty area based on having more than 20 percent free and reduced lunch rates, must have less than 10 students per square mile, and must have less than 725 students enrolled. Crivitz had 724 students enrolled last year. Mans cautioned that being right on the eligibility line, they might not be eligible for the aid next year.

Mans also had some good news in regard to effectiveness of education in Wisconsin in general and the Crivitz School District in particular.

“Political rhetoric to the contrary,’ he declared, “Wisconsin’s quality public school system is a point of pride for taxpayers in the state.” He said Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance researchers noted this year that the average college entrance exam scores for Wisconsin students was 7 percent higher than the national average, and high school graduation rates for entering 9th graders was 86.2 percent in Wisconsin compared with 70.1 percent nationally, and also surpassed all four surrounding states.

In addition, Mans said, based on statistics recently released by the DPI, Wisconsin’s ACT test scores continued its rise to 22.1, which ranks Wisconsin second in the nation.

“Even better news is that locally, our students surpassed the Wisconsin average with a composite ACT of 22.8,” Mans declared. “I point out these statistics in an effort to remind everyone that both here in Crivitz and statewide some great things are being accomplished by our kids,” Mans went on. “The efforts of everyone involved in public education, including kids, parents, school staff, school boards and caring, engaged communities should be given credit for this success!”

Elementary Principal Jeff Walsh reported his staff had training for their new math programs on Aug. 18 and 20. They had previewed the programs during the last school year and were able to purchase them for use this year. “We are looking forward to the new programs helping our children grow in the areas of math education,” Walsh said. The programs are “Big Ideas” for grades 6-8 and “Math Expressions” for grades K-5.

New teacher orientation was held Monday, Aug. 18. “We are looking forward to a great year beginning on the second of September,” he said.

The junior high will again be working on the State Personnel Development Grant program received to build professional learning communities. Walsh reminded the board they began the grant last year and have four years of funding remaining, and will continue working toward goals that were set in spring.

“The elementary and middle school custodians have done a great job on the building and it is pretty well set for the school year,” Walsh said. He expressed thanks to Building and Grounds Director Tom White and his staff.

High School Principal Jeff Baumann was excited to announce that there would be two foreign exchange students for the coming school year. Laura Kaltwasser, from Germany, will be staying with the Dan and Melissa Wieting family. Hannah Freese, also from Germany, will be staying with the Lukas Deschane family. “It will be nice to have them enrolled at Crivitz High School and sharing their experiences with our students,” Baumann commented.

He reported they will be using a software suite called “Study Island” this year to assist students struggling in English and math. He said they have identified 19 math students in grades 9 and 10 who scored less than proficient and have struggled in the classroom.

“Mrs. Zeitler and Mrs. Tomaszewski have put a great deal of effort into streamlining our student registration process, and others helped greatly ” Baumann said. Parents can now go online and enter student information directly if they have Internet access. They no longer have to wait for packets to be put together to fill out the information on paper copies, but they can do that if they prefer. “So far the online participation has been encouraging and we have been able to save some money on paper costs in the process,” Baumann commented.

Fall activities were already started. Cheerleading and dance teams had begun practicing and the numbers in football and volleyball have been very good. “We are anticipating good seasons for all for the upcoming fall season,” Baumann declared.

White reported his staff was wrapping up its summer cleaning chores. As of Aug. 20, there were still areas that needed to be painted and many minor maintenance tasks to be completed, he said, but everything would be completed before the teachers arrived.

Installation of the new floor tile in the elementary school cafeteria was complete. The new tile still needed to be stripped and finished with six coats of floor wax, but that too would be done by the time students returned.

In June, White was put in charge of developing a new softball field, “with no startup money offered by the District,” and it appears he is doing a fine job. He reported that work on the field is well underway. Excavation has been completed, spreading and leveling the top dirt of seeding was underway. The old practice field goal post was in the way of the new softball field and was destroyed upon removal, White said, and added, “Thanks go to Richlen Enterprises for the donation of their labor in building a new one, which we hope to install this week.”

White reported that Tim Corrigan, the new maintenance person hired last month, is adapting well to the position and has accomplished many maintenance tasks. “He and I are working together to develop and prioritize a list of upcoming maintenance needs,” White said.

Community Education Director Jolene Huc reported her board did not meet last month, but has a meeting scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8. She presented the board with a long list of Community Education programs and groups, many of which use the school facilities. They range from Flag and Youth football to exercise classes, Wolverine Sports Boosters, tumbling, dance, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, Ski Cats, Community Theatre, Ski Cat practices, Youth Wrestling, Weight Room, Tail Gate party, Easter Egg Hunt, Community Garden and classes in things like spinning, Zumba and knitting.

On White’s recommendation the board approved allowing support staff members who get no paid vacation to take up to 10 days per year of unpaid leave if White approves. He said they currently can take up to five days, but that isn’t long enough to go on a trip, for example. He said the district will in fact save money by allowing this, since they are generally not replaced when absent on unpaid leave. Personnel Committee Chair Lyle Cherry said they recommended the request for approval.

Finance Director Linda Tarmann reported on information that would be in the Annual Meeting packet, and said she would update it to include the $170,000 in Sparsity Aid. There will be an increase in health care costs for the family insurance coverage. As to the Sparsity Aid, the district received $49,000 in 2009, but will get the $170,000 this year. In addition, there is $43,000 coming in high poverty aid and $12,000 in additional transportation aid.

She said the fund balance shows a $456,000 increase, but that is based on spending that wasn't done and revenues that were not received. Final figures had not yet been tallied. For example, the Technology budget included $70,000 for computers that were not purchased last year, but will be bought early this year.

She noted at the annual meeting, district residents would not be approving a mill rate, “We’re approving anticipated income and expenses for the coming school year.”

Some students had signed up for Youth Options classes so money was budgeted, but then they didn’t take the classes so that money wasn’t spent.

There was an explanation of changes to the employee health insurance plan, in which the district picks up “bridge” costs that fill the gap between the insurance policy’s $2,000 and $4,000 deductibles and the $500 that employees are actually obligated to pay. Last year that bridge cost the district $90,000, but they still save money by buying the cheaper insurance and bridging the gap, Mans said.

The board approved resignations of Amy Paulsen and Language Arts Teacher Jamie Johnson, and agreed to require both to pay the $500 liquidated damages fee called for in the contracts for teachers who resign after June. There were letters asking that the fee be waived. Mans noted the handbook mentions that the board can waive the fee, and it was done for the last such employee, however, he said, “it is the board’s pleasure whether or not you do enforce it.” Motion to accept the resignations but enforce the $500 liquidated damages fee was made by Cherry, seconded by Jane Meissner and approved on a split vote.

“My feeling is that they signed a contract that says they will pay it,” Cherry commented.

Board member Tim McFadden said Paulsen is not leaving for another job, there was a death in the family and her husband has accepted a job in another community.

Vote was Board President Mike Dama, Cherry and Meissner in favor of requiring the $500, McFadden and Martha Neitzer opposed and Travis Mueller and Cory Sotka abstain. With the 3-2-2 split the motion passed.

Several policy changes described as minor and recommended by NEOLA, the district’s policy consultant, were accepted for first readings and will be acted on next month. They had been reviewed by the Policy Committee earlier in the month. Mueller asked if there was a change in the “Religion in the Curriculum” policy that would affect Christmas observances, and Mans stated, “It’s a small change, and doesn’t really affect anything.” The policy states, among other things, “An understanding of religions and their effects on civilization is essential to the thorough education of young people and to their appreciation of a pluralistic society,” and to that end the curriculum either shall or may include instruction about the religions of the world at appropriate age and ability levels. It also states that the instruction shall be unbiased, with a neutral approach, and that displays of a religious nature must be submitted for approval.

The board approved Dave Cullen as a part-time special ed director, as a CESA employee.

Stacey Caine, also from CESA, was approved as part time school psychologist. She has worked in this role in Lena, Oconto and Howard-Suamico.

Tracy Beyer was approved as a substitute custodian, and Karol Piantine and Patricia Lawrence were added to the list of approved substitute teachers. The board approved the overall substitute staff list that was included with their packets. Mans said all have satisfactory background checks and most had worked for the district in the past.

irene Bauer, Dawn Behrendt, Ryan Bemis, Kelly Ducaine, Bo Heinemeyer, Victoria LaFave, Steve Martin and Breanna McNamer were approved as volunteers or chaperones. All have satisfactory background checks.

The new transportation handbook was approved.

At the request of Nurse Kubicek the board approved a Medical Advisor Memorandum of Understanding for the school year. Mans said it is a document required by state statute. Dr. Singh is listed as the physician in charge. Dama abstained from the vote, and all other board members were in favor.

The mandatory Seclusion and Restraint report for last year states that in the 2013-2014 school year the district had no instances of seclusion or restraint.

At a brief special meeting prior to the Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 26, the board approved hiring Carrie Klitzke as the new art teacher for the Elementary and Middle Schools and Ocean Sikowski as a new first grade teacher. They accepted the resignation of Rose Bemis as the art teacher at the Elementary and Middle Schools.

Sikowski, an alumnus of the Crivitz School District, recently graduated from Concordia University and did her student teaching in the Random Lake School District.  Klitzke comes to Crivitz after several years with the Coleman School district.  Bemis departs from the district after 15 years of service.

Mans told the board that he was unable to find and recommend a candidate for the vacant position of Language Arts and Math Intervention teacher in the middle school, and those classes will begin next week with a long-term substitute teacher.

          


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