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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo School Board Hears Attendance Data

Issue Date: January 20, 2021

Presentations were given by the Middle High School Principal, Director of Special Education and the Elementary School Principal in reference to Pandemic life at the schools at the Peshtigo School Board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13,.

Chad Sodini, Peshtigo Middle/ High School Principal presented to the board, academics and progress related to life at the schools during the pandemic If we look at the honor roll back to 2017-18, the first class of 2020-21 which are our current seniors in Freshman year there were 48.2% on the honor roll, second semester there was 53% on the honor roll and when they were Sophomores they were at 69% and 58% second semester. When they were Juniors, 54% were on the honor roll for first semester and the second half of their Junior year is when COVID hit and students were out. It was more of a credit, no credit and there is no data for that semester. First semester in COVID that we are just finishing up we had 55% of our Seniors on the honor roll.

When you look at the attendance for those same years, Freshman was 95%, Sophomore 94%, Junior 94% and this year 99%. The 99% is a little bit skewed with having the choice to attend in person or virtual. I think that is fantastic that they are all coming to school but keep in mind there are those that attend virtually as well. When we look at the same data for 2021- 22 for 7th grade, the first semester there were at 62% on the honor roll with 99.2% attendance.

When looking at the whole building of grades seven through 12 on the honor roll, first semester for 2017-18 was 58%, second semester 56%, 2018-19 first semester was 60%, second semester 55% and 2019-20 first semester 51% and now it is 55%. That is fantastic to have over 50% of the students on the honor roll. As a school, we took a little dip due to the new style of learning in COVID. It is difficult to do virtual learning for high school students and even harder for the lesser grade students. We will be tracking for the next two or three years.

Julie Williams, Director of Special Education reported on the attendance of the Special Ed students with a total of 152 students including 128 attending in person for either the hybrid of two days per week or all five days of the week and 24 being virtual. Out of "in person" students, 35 students are struggling and are coming in for additional time. Of the virtual students eight of the 24 are coming in for their therapies of speech and language, occupational therapy, physical therapy and academics.

Out of 128 "in person" students, less than 1% of them are considered truant compared to our 24 virtual students of which 29% or seven of them are considered truant.

Even before they were considered truant we did a lot of different programs and gave them a lot of different options and we still couldn't get them to engage. Everyone of those students families were contacted and given options to bring them in more often and also offered transportation.

Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center (PELC) Principal, Kate Willett then spoke in regards to the PELC. For attendance tracking we are tracking all of our students whether attending virtual or in person and have a way of filtering out the both those that are not attending in-person or virtual. We are working with those parents and students to re-engage them We are providing lots of opportunities for families to get additional support and try to identify what the barriers might be and feel confident we can capture what the families needs are and provide that extra support and what they need.

Moving into January we have a much more robust plan for accepting students. We do anticipate student growth. General trends I have seen in working with families and talking with teachers is that student success hinges a lot on family engagement. If families are willing to invest a lot of time and support to their students that are learning virtually, then the students express they are feeling successful and they like the opportunities. Where we are struggling are with families that have a lot of requirements outside of the home and still opting for virtual. Again, we are continuing to provide our support and offering opportunities for as much engagement as we can. In terms of enrollment, attendance seems to remain pretty consistent with 90 to 100 students opting for virtual learning at the PELC.

Sodini added some other things to keep in mind, we know that academics are absolutely important, but we also know that the mental health of our students is vital. It was a different time ending last school year and starting this school year. We know both buildings have done a great job just trying to engage those students. Some of the things we have noticed in our building, is that, when we are in Hybrid schedule and have students on virtual, our class sizes are much smaller than usual and noticed that students that didn't engage in conversation before, are now engaging. In normal circumstances of 20 plus students in a classroom, we have the students that always have their hands up, kids in the middle that disappear and those on the end that goof around. With only eight to 10 students in a classroom, you can't hide and some of the students have become empowered enough to ask the question, raise their hand and get engaged. There is no data on that growth, but we as educators have seen that and they are really engaging and want to be here. That in itself is an absolute positive coming out of this dilemma that everyone is dealing with and the PELC is also seeing the same growth.

Various Performance Services Inc. (PSI) team members were in attendance to assure the board if the referendum passes they will make the school look as new as possible. There was a lot of discussion about how to go forward with a referendum and with the interest rates at an all time low it is the best time to go to referendum with the chance of never seeing the rates this low again. PSI guided the board with the proper wording of the referendum and after much discussion the wording was finalized by PSI for final review. A special board meeting was then held on Monday, Jan. 18 to finalize the wording and move forward with a referendum for the April election.

Superintendent Patrick Rau announced retirements and hirings including the retirement of Lisa Devroy as Middle/ High School Art Teacher effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Hirings included Marc Boettcher as seventh grade girls basketball coach and Katie Swanson (Baxter) as eighth grade girls basketball coach. There were no resignations.

Donations were received from Robert Benedict Jr. for the (Students Eat Every Day) program in the amount of $500; Sheila Stillman also donated $500 for the Jim Stillman Scholarship Program and $1,000 was received from Stephenson National Bank and Trust for Peshtigo High School FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America).

The retirement, hirings and all donations were then approved by the board.

Also approved were resolutions for WASB. School Board President Muriel Carter stated she will be attending a meeting to get more information of what resolutions the WASB want us to vote on at the convention. Carter was looking for direction if the Board has any resolutions that they may want or need her to vote on or to vote a certain way on specific resolutions or just pay attention to the discussions. Board Member Gary Larsen replied, "I think you will make a good decision for the whole board and we trust you to make the right decisions".

Rau also announced the school 2019 - 2020 audit has been completed and is in full compliance with State and Federal guidelines. We are in excellent standing both financially and in compliance.


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