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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Lena School Board Returns Lori Dufek As President

Issue Date: April 27, 2022

The fine new Westlund bus that left Lena on Sunday, April 24 with 20 Art Club and Band students and a number of adult mentors aboard for a week-long Fine Arts trip to Florida only made it as far as Tennessee before it ran into problems on Sunday afternoon, District Administrator Ben Pytleski informed Lena School Board at its meeting on Monday, April 25.

According to Tom Westlund, problems with the bus were caused by a road hazard - a piece of concrete that came loose and then flew up and struck the undercarriage, knocking out the air drying system and causing issues with doors and brakes. Meanwhile, the travelers and their gear were transported to another hotel.

The group, which included three teachers and one aide in addition to a number of parent chaperones, had already survived a problem with a hacked school credit card, Pytleski said.

By Monday afternoon, after approximately a 20-hour delay, the travel group was back on the road to Disney World and other destinations in Florida.

Pytleski said despite the problems, he had been told that every one was having a great time, and the students have been excellent and cooperative. They were fortunate that the bus broke down near available hotels, so transporting the tour group and its gear for the unplanned stay while waiting for the substitute bus to arrive was not a serious problem, Pytleski said.

In regular school board business, the board voted unanimously to re-elect Lori Dufek as president, Ed Huberty as vice president, Charles Imig as clerk, and David McNurlen as treasurer. Prior to the meeting Timothy A. Goldschmidt and Huberty both been sworn in for their new terms in office.

"I am extraordinarily happy to leave it (the list of board officers) as is," Goldschmidt declared when making his motion to return all incumbents to the offices they had previously held.

Imig was again designated as district representative for the WASB Assembly at its convention in January, with Dufek as alternate. McNurlen was assigned to represent Lena at the CESA8 annual meeting.

Associated Bank was again named official depository for school funds, and the Peshtigo Times was again selected as the official newspaper for the district. The regular schedule for school board meetings is 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month, but there can be changes as needed for unusual circumstances.

The board approved a baseball volunteer coaching contract for Tyler Schmidt; tabled a coaching contract for track and field, approved hiring Shannon Schmit as temporary school bookkeeper through June 30, and discussed hiring their own cleaning staff and terminating the cleaning service contract instead of renewing.

Pytleski reported five Lena students participated recently in the UW-Green Bay Honors Choir and a number of students attended the spring Electrathon conference at Road America in Elkhart Lake.

During a discussion on equipment needs, Principal Matt Hanson commented that compared to other school districts he has worked in, Lena students do a great job of taking care of their Chrome books.

Several Lena teachers have some health issues, and the school is short staffed, Pytleski said, adding they start their day moving people around to be sure all slots are filled.

Pytleski said he and Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Hermansmann had made a field trip to a neighboring school district to see how their program is working out. He said it would cost more on the front end because they will need to buy equipment, but will work out better in the long run. He felt with people hired from the community there would not be as much turnover, and said having the contracted service is tougher for him because, "I can't discipline someone else's employees."

The district currently pays $13,000 a month for the cleaning service, which Imig declared is unsatisfactory and others agreed.

Dufek asked if there was grant money to use for the equipment. Pytleski said they could have used the COVID funds for that, but had put it to other use already. To a question from Imig, Pytleski said he meets regularly with the current cleaning service provider and have told him they are not happy.

Pytleski had recently returned from attending the annual state WASDA Conference and told the board, "I am very fortunate when I hear about problems other district administrators have. You guys are very much appreciated!"

Pytleski does an hour-long show on WOCO Radio at 8 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. He said the three Lena boys who were special guests on last week's program "...did an awesome job of promoting our school and our programs." The boys, Logan Shallow, Sydney Sylvester and Sam Marquardt, had talked about "Electrathon" and the new baseball field.

At the board meeting Imig talked about the need for temporary seating and bleachers at the baseball field, and was told that Dirt City may be donating some bleachers. Pytleski said for now they are using bleachers from St. Anne's, but most people don't use bleachers anyway, they build a bag chair convention around the fence, where he is planning to add gravel.

Imig commented that sometimes he hears from people who are not happy with the board, but it's really administrative decisions they disagree with.

"When you hear comments like that, send them to me," Pytleski advised.


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