Wausaukee School Okays EMT, Fire Course Credits
Responding to community needs and arguments that training for service with volunteer rescue squads and fire departments can lead to future careers for students, Wausaukee School Board has approved a policy change that now allows students to get high school and college credits as well as GPA points for successfully completing EMT, First Responder and Fire and Rescue courses that are sanctioned and sponsored by the district.
In the past, students were allowed to take the classes offered through the rescue squad and fire department in cooperation with NWTC but they did not count toward the credits needed for high school graduation. Courses still excluded from credits include personal enrichment classes and non-credit technical college coursework. Deschane explained that giving credit for the EMT and fire training was done by simply removing them from the excluded list.
At the board's August meeting, board members Sandy Wojick and Sherri Schlais argued strongly in favor of giving graduation credits for the EMT, First Responder and Fire and Rescue training that allows seniors who are old enough to serve on the volunteer squads. The rest of the board agreed. The policy change needed to make that happen was then put into writing by High School/Middle School Principal Jared Deschane and District Administrator Bob Berndt and presented to the board at its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 13. It was unanimously approved by the board as part of the High School/Junior High School Parent/Student handbook.
During time for public comment at the start of the meeting Jim Brien, not knowing that the board had already approved the EMT training as a credit course, strongly urged the board to do just that. He offered to provide information on EMT credit courses offered by other school districts in the state. Rescue Squads in the area and in fact all over the state have been finding it difficult to recruit enough volunteers to meet their needs. He noted that in Crivitz students taking construction trade classes are given credits for work with Habitat for Humanity projects, and pointed out that some Wausaukee High School graduates who started by taking EMT classes while in high school went on to become paramedics. He said trained students who are old enough can work with the squad, and expressed hope that others will either remain in the community or come back on holidays and weekends and do some volunteer service.
Putting on his other hat, Brien said the Knights of Columbus annual Tootsie Roll Drive is underway, and they are looking for some good projects to support for the school.
Late in the meeting the board scheduled the annual meeting and budget hearing for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Although the state budget had not yet been finalized, the district had ben notified they are one of the 123 districts that will be getting in additional high cost transportation aid from the state. Wausaukee's share of the $7.5 million allocated for the high transportation cost districts is $50,316.72. This aid is for districts that have fewer than 50 students per square mile where transportation costs exceed 150 percent of the average transportation cost of $614.42 per student.
The board accepted resignations of Jill Reese as junior high volleyball coach and Tom Arthur as junior varsity basketball coach. Sam Thompsen and Jill Dunlop were approved as junior high volleyball coaches and Nicole Weber is National Honor Society advisor.
Berndt reported the district has two additional students going out of the district under alternate Open Enrollment and five more coming in.
Despite missing the deadline, the board agreed to allow a student to take an Electrical Mechanical Engineering credit course though the Youth Options program.
During his monthly report Deschane thanked Bellin Health and the Green Bay Packer organization for treating the Wausaukee football players to a day at Lambeau Field for a game on Aug. 31, complete with food, soda and box seats. For many of the students it was their first time at a Packer game and their first trip ever to Lambeau Field. "We were thrilled," Deschane declared.
He also shared the exciting news that once every seven years a Wisconsin school gets the chance to choose one student for a $10,000 Herb Kohl Initiative Scholarship, and this year it is Wausaukee's turn. They will assemble scholarship committee to select a scholarship winner, a choice that must be made by December.
He said staff members were being trained that evening in CPR and First Aid. Crime Stoppers had visited the school, there was a fire drill and Sheriff's Department officers came with their police dog and inspected lockers, which were all found clean.
In ACT testing, the school's average score stayed at 19.2, the same as last year. The state's average score of 20.5 also stayed the same. He said all students in the participating grade level in Wausaukee took the ACT test, and 16 percent of them were students with disabilities. Wausaukee students overall scored below average in English, math and reading and above average in science.
School for Wausaukee students started on Friday, Sept.1, the day before Labor Day weekend. Berndt had received an e-mail from a person who objected to that timing, and said he did share his concern, but "starting school on Friday and then having that weekend was good for us." He had checked the calendar and found that for the next four years there will be no conflict, and they could even start classes the last week of August.
He thanked Sandy and Betty Figas for providing students with 150 backpacks for the start of school and thanked board members who attended and President Mary Marquis for speaking at the teacher inservice.
The decision to grant credit for classes that allow students to serve with the volunteer emergency services organizations fits well with the board's goal of enhanced community participation, Berndt commented.
In line with the goal of getting better acquainted with the community and the work world, school staff members spent the second of their start of the year in-service days visiting some area businesses and industries with an eye to learning what they need the students to know to become good employees.
Berndt declared enthusiastically that the visits had some eye opening impact on staff members who participated.
Half the staff visited Verso Paper Mill and Boss Snow Plow factory in Iron Mountain in the morning while the other half visited Marinette Marine and BAMC in Marinette, and in the afternoon everyone visited Decor Products and Simtex Composites in Wausaukee. "It's hard to believe we have these two great companies in town and a lot of people don't know what's happening with them."
"We have a lot of good jobs available in this area, but not a lot of people know about them," Berndt declared. He said they were welcomed with open arms by the businesses, and were informed about some of the training and skills needed in various fields, and what skills in which students have been found lacking. Even kindergarten teachers were impressed with the need to start students early on the path to promptness and reliability so they eventually become worthwhile employees, Berndt said. "Discipline is the first lesson," Berndt said. "They have to be there, and on time."
The board approved new or revised policies involving board policy adoption, review and implementation; student directory data, the school counseling program, school admissions, full time public school open enrollment, employee reference and verification, recruitment and hiring of new district employees, criminal background checks, suspension and debarment to vendors and contractors, procedures for reporting child abuse or neglect, and procedures for providing transportation for children in foster care or other out of home care.
Mindi Kempinski briefed the board on contents of the "Little Learners Center" staff and parent handbooks, and progress of the center for pre-school child care. She said Jodi Beyer, a licensing specialist from the state, visited. She had a few suggestions, but really liked what she saw here, Kempinski said.
Marquis complimented Kempinski on her ability to bring community members into the school.
Little Learners has applied for a $1,000 grant for New Starters, and a representative from the library will come in one day a week to read a book for the children. Another NWTC student will be training with them.
Enrollment at Little Learners has grown from 61 in May to 76 now, and they are not accepting new students at present, but they do have a waiting list.
Other business of the meeting included approving handbooks for "Little Learners," high school and junior high school parents and students, and academic and career planning, as well as the schools PI 26 plan, and a policy on internet safety and acceptable use. To questions from board members in Internet safety, Deschane said they have learned to block student access to objectionable things on the Internet, and will be able to do that even better in the future with the new Chromebook programs.
On the PI 26 plan, Deschane said schools need to do things to make kids career ready when they graduate. He said information on career opportunities posted on the website includes labor statistics for the state, nation and Marinette County. Manufacturing, education and health are the top three employers in the county, Deschane said. There is a connection to business through membership in the Marinette Area Chamber of Commerce, and the partnership with NWTC offers several dual credit courses for future employment.
Provisions have been made to allow students who establish portfolios for future employment through the career planning program to continue accessing those portfolios after graduation through g-mail accounts.
Schlies and Wojcik hosted the first board/staff communication session on Wednesday, Sept. 6, and Elmer Busick will host the next one. Berndt urged other board members to sign up for one of the monthly sit-down sessions with staff to discuss concerns and ideas on a one-to-one basis. The idea is that any staff member who wishes can stop in to talk a board member or two about anything they want to talk about.
Schlies reported two staff members joined her and Wojcik on Sept. 6, "and we had an informal discussion on lots of subjects... I think it's a great way for staff and board members to get to know one another." She added this brain storming might discover some great ideas.
Former Board President Dave Kipp presented his natural gas "hedging" report and promised to continue monitoring prices and give advice on when to buy future supplies. He said the brief hurricane rally in natural gas prices a few weeks ago "quickly fizzled," and gas stocks remain just slightly above the 5-year average. He said the school's gas usage so far this year is the lowest since he started tracking it in 2012, and should continue with the new control system and boilers in use. Weather, of course, will remain a factor.
Jennifer Klimek reported on the 2-day TRITON academy for professional development that was attended by nine Wausaukee staff members this year at a cost of $125 each. That cost was paid for this summer and next by a "TEACH" grant, so there was no cost to the district. Klimek and Carrie Trever taught two sessions there and Sue Stoltenberg presented on Academic and College Planning (ACP) resources .
JoAnne Miller from CESA-8 had been working with district staff on what is called the "X matrix" program which connects practices and goals. Berndt said the program developed by Miller shows "where we are and where we want to be," and Deschane described it as a set of goals that will be worked on and not just left sitting on a shelf.
Marquis asked if those goals will eventually translate to better ACT scores, and was told by Miller that they will, "but it will take a couple of years...There is no magic bullet...There is no quick cure."
At the end of the meeting the board went into closed executive session to discuss a personnel issue and the sick leave bank. After returning to open session they agreed to allow the staff member to change from a six hour to a three hour work day. No action was taken on the sick leave bank issue.
After their Aug. 10 meeting the board also had a brief closed session discussion. After resuming open session they unanimously approved motions to allow Deschane to pursue a District Administrative license with financial support from the district, and to allow one staff member the ability to double jump this year in the Professional Compensation Growth Model due to a misinterpretation of a previous evaluation.
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