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Peshtigo School District Hires Howick Associates

Issue Date: March 15, 2019

The main focus of the Peshtigo School District Board of Education meeting on Monday, March 11 was a presentation by Drew Howick of Howick Associates of Madison in reference to Future Search and Community Conversation. Howick focuses on designing and facilitating group discussions that enable participants to solve a problem or advance an issue.

Superintendent, Patrick Rau invited several Peshtigo residents to the meeting to listen to what Howick had to offer. Of those invited, in attendance included, Clarence Coble, Town of Peshtigo Clerk, Cathi Malke, City of Peshtigo Mayor and Mike Behnke, City of Peshtigo Alderperson.

He stated he focuses on communication plans for Districts, bringing together the Community, Parents, Staff Members and Students with what the community expects of the school and what the school expects of the community.

Howick has worked with many School districts over the years and he highly collaborates with the board focusing on where the priorities are and what should be focused on in Peshtigo. His format includes, What is the objection we want to accomplish? What groups of people to ask? What is the process to have the conversation and plan the meeting around those questions. This is a process that brings together a diverse group of people to focus on the future and where the common ground is of the community. He does not focus on problems or issues, but more of what do we want for the future.

Howick said, "We think about the big picture, what's happening in education and the Community. There are three components involved including a shared vision, a common ground and a collaborative plan of how to get there". The three steps to get there are Planning that starts with the Board and Administration team, conversation and implementation, which also includes determining who the key stockholders are, and define the purpose and select, recruit and get support of a core team.

The team should consist of a well respected person in each group of a Board member, an Administration member, a Teacher, a Parent, a Student, an Employee representative and Religious representative. These are the leaders that would meet with Howick.

A team is then built of approximately 60 to 150 community members to collaborate and share ideas and receive community input. The process could take up to two years to complete.

Howick would assist in development of a design of conversation as to why this? why now, why is it important to have this conversation? The conversation would start with the past and work the way forward with timelines including happenings from 50 plus years ago to present, to build a history of Peshtigo.

There would then be a focus on the present of what is happening now that we need to understand, key issues and trends, which ones are key of important communication. What knowledge and skills do we want for our students to be successful, which ones are key and most important for our students. Create a message about the future and talk about a shared vision and identify priorities and key factors that are the most important items in the community and create community conversations.

Clarence Coble said, "This is a different approach and I think it is a good approach, This is not about a building, it is to focus on what the students needs are. We want them to have great jobs and a great place to live. We want what is best for the kids, their education and their future".

After the presentation and discussion, the board approved the services of Howick without knowing of the cost of his services. At that point, Mayor Malke asked the amount Howick charges for his service and after explaining the services involved and length of time, he responded "It is $20,000 and could in reality last two years, depending on how much the team relies on me, I will be available to work as needed."

In other business, Brian Brewer, of Robert W. Baird and Company spoke on behalf of the Fund 39 Defeasance which is a resolution authorizing the transfer of funds, the establishment of an escrow account with respect to and the defeasance of certain of the general obligation refunding bonds, dated Dec. 27, 2012.

Brewer said, "With an additional $400,000 levy to pay off debt from the previous referendum, it is wise to effectively take advantage of the fair market value and what is to come in the future at a very low interest rate as it stands and this is an action to pay down the debt".

By putting the levied funds into an escrow account, it shortens the debt repayment by one full year from 20 years down to 19 years, with a net savings of $52,000 by putting it in escrow and paying off the $400,000.

In addition, Brewer stated, distribution reimbursement is approximately 40% and next year will amount to $160,000, this should be something to consider when building the budget to receive additional state aid. He didn't know what it would be for sure, but relative to the current formula, this increases the amount of state aid that can be received.

He said, "The big picture is by reducing the payment period by $52,000, it will increase the state aid".

One District resignation was approved for School Psychologist, Frank Akey, who accepted a similar position in Marshfield. The resignation will take effect at the end of the school year. Superintendent, Patrick Rau said, "We have nine applicants for the position so far".

District hirings approved include: Andy Beyer, JV Baseball Coach; Ethan Nault, Assistant Varsity Track Coach; Jim Demeuse, JV Softball Coach; Bill Wickman, Lee Mylener and Jim Swiatnicki , Volunteer Softball Coaches; Joe Sparks, Joe Nystrom, Justin Fischer, Riley Reif, Mike Nompleggi and Blake VanVooren, Volunteer Baseball Coaches.

In his Administration report, Rau said, "Of two openings available in the District, there are nine applications for the Psychologist position with 3 of them being 2020 graduates and if we don't act on them, someone else will. We didn't receive any applications for the Special Education teacher position opening".

Rau also stated there are 21 new applications for open enrollment and five open enrollment students that are leaving due to departures to neighboring districts including two to online schools, one relocating to Appleton and one to Wausaukee.

Four donations were received specifically for the Post Prom party, from JETA Corporation, $350; Waupaca Foundry, $300; Jeffrey Orear, DDS, $250 and David and Heidi Doll, $500. Also received was a donation of $1,770 from PTSO for 6 ft. tall x 24' long foldable display screens that are used for Art shows.

As a recipient of Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) funding, a board report is required on the progress toward the learning targets. Kelly Collins and three of the five Kindergarten teachers including Mary Merritt, Nicole Bergstrom and Loretta Rich presented a report and update of the progress.

Collins stated all academic levels in grades K through fifth grade were met and they already exceeded Spring goals. The group thanked the board for their support and professional development of the Literacy Academy that was attended last summer.

The Academy focused on hearing versus reading and sounds. There were three different sessions of literacy coaching and they learned communication goals of phonemic awareness that focus on developmentally appropriateness for students. A collaboration of the three Kindergarten teachers spoke about the program.

The Students are constantly moving along and assessments and monitoring is done weekly or every other week. If they have to go back to learn sounds, they go back until the students advance to the next level.

With the class sizes being smaller this year, it is easier to work with the smaller groups and the children like the individual attention they receive.

They spoke of how literacy has changed in the last 14 years and how it is now age appropriate. Students are now using their goals and seeing progress. The teachers can see how they have grown in collaboration in Special Education, Speech Pathology and all that are involved in the program.

Rau addressed his concern on the possible establishment of a club sport for Girls Soccer, with only 15 signed up at this time, it could easily drop to a minimum amount of 10. He would like to make sure the program is ready for success and tabled the topic for future discussion.

The Building and Grounds committee reported their next meeting is Monday, March 18 at 5 p.m. They will be going through capital projects and focusing on priorities from top to bottom. Other committees had nothing to report for this month.

The 2019-2020 CESA 8 contract was approved, along with the 2019-2020 Start College Now which used to be Youth Options. This is taught by NWTC and applications are available now.


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