Coleman School Renovation Set To Start April 1, June 6Issue Date: February 21, 2019
It's official. Renovation work on Coleman School buildings approved by voters in the referendums last April will begin on Monday, April 1, with more major work to start Thursday, June 6. Voters approved a total of $13,830,000 in two separate referendum questions, and additional funds that would have been used for maintenance work are also being applied. Planning for the project has been in progress ever since.
Like school districts all across Wisconsin, Coleman is faced with the problem of making up for an unprecedented number of school days lost to bad weather, from ice storms to snow storms to dangerously frigid temperatures. Coleman has lost seven class days plus two additional hours, district Administrator Doug Polomis commented at the monthly School Board meeting on Monday, Feb. 18, and added, "Who knows what else Mother Nature has in store for us with February, March and even April still to come?"
Some school districts may opt to continue classes beyond the scheduled spring release date if necessary. However, with construction scheduled to start on June 6, Coleman does not have that option.
As it now stands, students are to be released for the summer on Tuesday, June 4, and the final day for staff is scheduled as an in-service day on Wednesday, June 5, prior to the June 6 start of major construction. That may change before the school year is over.
For now, to make up for lost days already this year the board agreed to eliminate Easter Monday on Tuesday, April 22 as a vacation day for students as recommended by Polomis, despite concerns about disrupted family plans for out-of-state travel. To questions from board members, Polomis said if families can present information about already-made travel plans, affected students may be excused and allowed to make up exams and other work.
Polomis said the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is adamant that they will not ease rules for the annual number of minutes required for student/teacher interaction. However, after several telephone conversations he did get an agreement that parts of the 30-minute daily lunch period used for student recreation can be counted toward the required minutes, as long as all students have equal opportunity to use the time and facilities.
With this agreement in hand, a proposal to change June 5 from a teacher inservice day to a school day for middle school and high school students was tabled for now, as was a proposal to add minutes to each school day by starting classes at 7:55 a.m. and dismissing at 3:25 p.m. Those provisions may be needed if there are more snow days before the end of the school year.
Board Member Joanne Nowak said she had been asked why they did not eliminate the Feb. 22 holiday instead, but after discussion she and other board members agreed there would not be enough advance notice for people to change their plans.
Polomis was also concerned about impact that adding minutes to each day as makeup time would have on the part-time para-professionals, who work 29.5 hours a week and would be entitled to full time benefits if that increases. He said eliminating the April 22 holiday and counting some of the lunch hour minutes will make up for time already lost and provide a little cushion. If necessary June 5 could become a full day for high school students and a half day for elementary.
Polomis did not recommend turning the March 18 and April 18 in-service training days into student class days because they already have contracts for presenters.
In his monthly report on the construction project, Polomis said specification sheets are now complete for bids to be let. There is to be a pre-bid conference and walk-through at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20 and bids are due on Thursday, Feb. 28. Bid opening is set for 3 p.m. in the board room on Wednesday, March 6.
Board President Ryan Wendt asked for provisions for himself and other board members to attend the bid openings if they want to. It was decided as long as there are not four board members present there will not be a quorum so it can be done without posting a special board meeting. Wendt indicated he will be there. Construction contracts will be presented to the board for action on Monday, March 11.
Polomis said work in the elementary portion of the buildings will be done from April 1 of this year through September of 2019. The high school renovations will start in April of 2019, with completion scheduled for September of 2020.
The only renovation work scheduled for the high school wing this year is installation of new bleachers in the gym, which is being done in conjunction with work in the elementary gym as a cost saving measure. Total cost for both sets of bleachers, with installation, is $116,000. Board Member Corey Kuchta was assured by Polomis that the new bleachers in both gyms will be handicap-accessible, with hand rails and a half-step for the first access step.
Work in the elementary wing will begin on April 1 in the kindergarten, pre-K and Special Ed rooms plus the elementary cafeteria. There will be some disruption of routines and class locations, and the Board meeting room will be pressed into service.
Once classes are dismissed in June some items will be stored on the ground floor of the high school wing, so summer school sessions will likely be on second floor there, Polomis told the board. Tentative summer school plans were presented by Elementary/Middle school Principal Yvette Marshall at Monday's board meeting and will be up for approval at the March 11 board meeting. They plan only three weeks of summer school this year. Bus service and meals will be provided as usual.
Marshall noted there is always a big demand for swimming lessons, and priorities were set last year. Marshall is comparing costs between River Cities pool in Marinette and the Bond Center in Oconto, and will have a recommendation for next month. Total cost for classes at the River Cities pool last year was $7,110, including bus transportation, school staff and pool fees. The district has to pay this and cannot charge it back to the students, Marshall said, but they do get to count it toward reimbursement time for state aids.
Opening up storage space in preparation for the construction project is in progress, and shelves in the board meeting room on Feb. 18 were filled with hundreds of trophies, large, small and in between, with more in bins on the floor. There are other bins stored elsewhere, Polomis said, "and we just do not have room for all of them." Polomis added that many are for individual tournaments, including for second and third place and asked if the board wants to keep storing them. Consensus was they do not.
Polomis said they will definitely keep all the conference, state and national trophies that Coleman teams have won over the years, "and if you want us to keep the rest, we'll get more totes." He commented having too many trophies is a great problem to have, "but it's still a problem." He noted Coleman has won a total of 13 state title trophies and eight runner-up trophies in its history.
Kuchta suggested giving the trophies they cannot display to the youth groups that sponsored the sport and let them do what they want with them. He said groups with which he is active would take the labels off and re-issue them. "Some of those beautiful trophies would mean the world to a 6 or 7-year-old wrestler," he declared. Some of the older trophies are substantially larger than the state trophies of today.
Wendt commented in a neighboring school district some people were were really upset that the trophies were not offered to the people who won them.
Kuchta also suggested some trophies could be given to teachers to re-label and hand out to student winners of track and field days and other events. He suggested offering the old trophies first to the coaches of each sport, next to all teachers, and then to youth groups. He offered to store any that don't go at the canning factory, where he would allow interested members of the public to claim them. He has had people express interest. Disposition of the trophies will be an action item at the March 11 board meeting.
In line with discussion at the January meeting, the board unanimously approved a credit reimbursement agreement through which Sarah Thomas will obtain her masters' degree and become eligible to be a dual credit teacher when the new Higher Learning Commission rules go into effect in 2022. Polomis said NWTC will pay part of the cost as a grant directly to the school district, and Thomas will be reimbursed after she completes the classes.
Stressing the importance of retaining course offerings that give both high school and college credits, Polomis said just that day two students old him they are considering coming to Coleman next year because of the number of college credit courses they offer.
Wendt commented the agreement is well written, and declared the decision to help staff attain the necessary credentials to continue teaching college credit courses "is a win/win for everybody!"
Other action items for the board included approval of the 2019-2020 course description book, approval of Dan Perry as a volunteer golf coach, and accepting donations from the STEF Foundation and the Brian Schroepfer Charitable Fund.
The $1,000 donation from a foundation established by Marinette dentists, doctors Brian and Tom Schroepfer, is to be used for the Wrestling program.
The $1,500 grant from the STEF Foundation (Special Thoughts Everyday Forever), in memory of Stephanie Kanack, a 2011 graduate of Lena High School who committed suicide in July 2015 at age 22, is to be split evenly between the Archery Club, weight room and fifth grade camping trip. Nowak commented one of her grandsons was on that camping trip and very thoroughly enjoyed it. The STEF grant last year was donated to the Archery Club.
Junior Kindergarten teachers Julie Pusick and Brenda Shevy gave a presentation on "Tools of the Mind" that now is the backbone of the junior kindergarten curriculum. One of their main themes was that free and imaginative play at a very young age forms the basis for youngsters' learning abilities later in life. They said 80 percent of a child's brain development is done by age three, and 90 percent by age five, and many brain channels not used during that time are closed off, never to be used again. While technology is important, physically active and imaginative play is essential.
Polomis noted this is the first year Tools of the Mind is being used at Coleman, and was pleased that, "... not only are our students learning, our teachers are learning new ways to teach."
Parent teacher conferences are scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5 and 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6. ACT and ACT Work Keys will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20 and Thursday, Feb. 21.
In his report as high school principal Polomis congratulated Jessie Meyer for being named Coleman-Pound Lions Club student of the month, nominated by Mr. Kaufman, and announced that she has also been named class valedictorian.
He congratulated the wrestling team for winning their 16th straight conference title. They also won their regional and all wrestlers will be advancing to individual sectionals. At team sectionals in Auburndale they beat the first round but lost to Stratford for the sectional title.
FFA week was celebrated the week of Feb. 4. There were dress up days and an all-school assembly on Friday, Feb. 8. He thanked Mrs. Wautier and the FFA officers for organizing the event.
In Future Business Leaders of America Region 3 competition held at Coleman on Saturday, Feb. 2, 53 Coleman students competed, and 47 percent placed in the top three and so advanced to state competition to be held in April in Green Bay. He thanked Kristin Lahners and Jeremy Brady for organizing the event, which brought 550 to 600 FBLA members to the building for the day. He also thanked food service personnel for feeding everyone, and all the teachers and volunteers who made the day go smoothly. "It was impressive to see so many kids here in business attire," Polomis commented.
He saluted school bus drivers in recognition of Bus Driver Appreciation Day, and expressed thanks to Bieber Transportation for making the switch from Camps Bus Service so seamless.
Polomis had attended a principal's meeting recently where they discussed the WIAA football conference and divisions that are being reorganized again for next year. Coleman had opted to go with the large schools division, but is being put back to being part of a 4-team small schools football conference with Crivitz, Crandon and the Northern Elite, which is comprised of Beecher/Dunbar/Pembine, Niagara and Goodman. There still remains a question of where the Menominee Indian School will be assigned, since they apparently were overlooked in the conference reorganization. He said individual schools now have no say in where they are assigned. Bonduel and Northern Pines also will join the conference, and there was even talk of including Menominee, Mich., and perhaps Kingsford, Mich., Polomis said. Of all the former M&O Conference schools, only two still have 11-man football, he added.
Coleman High School will host our area Forensics teams at the sub-district Forensics meet the evening of Monday, Feb. 25. Coleman will have 12 students participating in the first elimination round of the season. The M&O meet, originally scheduled for Feb. 4 at Crivitz has been rescheduled to Monday, March 4.
The food service contract must be re-done every five years by state law, and this is the year for Coleman. Three board members - Barbara Krause-Klug, Corey Kuchta and Jeremy Hoida tentatively will be on a team to write the rubric by which bids will be tallied and by DPI rules the district must award the contract to whichever bidder scores highest. Kuchta joked that they need to know he's a beef farmer, "So when I write the rules...."
The Village of Coleman has formally notified the school that the village annexed land from the Town of Pound in June.
In her Middle School/Elementary Principal's report, Yvette Marshall told the board the 5th graders took an overnight field trip on Feb. 14 and 15 to Camp U-Nah-Li-Ya in Suring, learning about science and social studies topics in an alternate classroom setting. The students and teachers issued a huge "thank you" to the staff at the camp for their organization of the trip, parents for allowing them to go, and the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin for their generous grant in support of the experience.
Polomis thanked 5th grade teachers Amberly Behringer and Kyle Johnson for organizing the trip.
Marshall said the PTO is looking for new members, and any parents interested should talk to any teacher about ways to get involved.The PTO is hosting a book fair during parent Teacher Conferences and there is a link on the district web page for anyone interested in volunteering.
Elementary students will hold their Read Across America event on Friday, March 1. Activities for the day include a breakfast of green eggs and ham.
She attended the WEA state convention in January with board members Kuchta and Scott Herzog and brought back much information for Polomis on the theme of "Leading for Excellence."
She congratulated 6th grader Beverly Vander Muss, who won the 4th-8th grade spelling bee this year, and has also placed first at regionals and will represent Coleman at State in March.
She also congratulated Azllyn VanDrisse and Trent Mongin for being selected as PBIS students of the month.Winners of the Knights of Columbus contest for spelling and math are:
Spelling: grade 5, William Harley; grade 6, Beverly Vander Muss; grade 7, Adarae Brady, and grade 8, Isabel Kuntz; and
Math: grade 5, Alayna Gilbertson; grade 6, Beverly Vander Muss; grade 7,Justin Borchert, and grade 8, Lexus Bars.
Marshall also presented the mid-year achievement gap reduction report which shows all grades are making excellent progress toward their AGR goals, and the strategies being used are effective. There will be another report in June.
At the end of regular business the board went into closed executive session for administrative review and 2019-2020 staffing. No action was taken after they returned to open session.
The evening had started at 6 p.m. for members of the Policies Committee, which reviewed a long, long list of policies in preparation for first readings at the 7 p.m. board meeting. They are expected to be presented for adoption at the board's meeting on March 11.
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