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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Rau Asks School Board To Decide On Referendum

Issue Date: June 24, 2021

At the Wednesday, June 16 Peshtigo School Board meeting, Superintendent Patrick Rau asked the Board to consider making a decision on a timeline for the next referendum as to if they want to target Spring or Fall of 2022.

Rau stated, "Obviously the resolution would still be up for a vote and the solution would be part of that process. Are you preparing to make the resolution and solution decision for April or for November or scratch the whole idea"? Rau then re-introduced Doreen of PSI (Performance Services Inc) and Business Development Manger, Lauren Wanner of PSI, to recap the recent referendum.

Doreen advised "There were a lot of emails exchanged of what went right and what didn't go right. A meeting was held on Tuesday, May 25 with those that were on the email chain and discussed what they knew about the communities response of the referendum and any possible ideas. As I listened I had a lot of ideas of what would be the next steps if the board decides to go to referendum. Whether going to a referendum or not, a school district needs a structured and strategic information plan. I am very much encouraging Patrick to keep up the communications".

Doreen continued, "Ongoing communication is what engages your community and builds trust. Continue face to face communications whether it is for the referendum or anything else. It was very challenging to do that with the pandemic. We need to reach out to specific audiences. As an example are the parents of preschoolers, we need to reach out to where those people are. We need to inform people so they can make informed decisions. Again, I encourage you to continue to keep the communication efforts going and do them strategically, continue to think about who are the audiences we need to reach and how can we meet them face to face and reach out to them. The timeline is critical. I will need to to know the timeline before we can move forward".

Wanner added, "It is very important to reach out to those people that did not vote and how to target certain people, The focus is on the solutions and what the district needs, but more focused on reaching those people that did not vote or did not have the information to support it. We had really good momentum and we need to continue that drive".

Doreen interjected, You don't have a referendum right now, you may never have a referendum, so I am not going to prepose what you are going to do as a board, but none the less you have a group of supporters and I encourage them to become advocates for your school district. I think it is an incredibly important role they played in wanting to support their schools and continues to express their concern. We encourage them to be more vocal, get out there and promote the district. We created a volunteer sheet of things they can do to support the school district. Advocacy groups are becoming more and more important across the country and across the state. We are more than happy to work with that group with things they can do to support your schools".

Rau added, "The highest percentage of referendums pass in November during presidential elections due to the larger amount of voters. If you look in non-presidential elections of 2018, 2014, 2010 and 2006, those years had the highest percentage of voter turnouts as well, which those years correlate with the Wisconsin November gubernatorial elections. Wisconsin is unique in that aspect and with more voters out, the better chances referendums are passing and that is different than every-other state in the midwest, therefore more voter turnout and more success". Rau ended with, "For the July meeting, the board needs to decide if we go for referendum in April or November of 2022 or just cool our jets and wait until 2023".

The meeting then proceeded with other agenda items with Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center (PELC), Kate Willett presenting the Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) report. Willett began, "In a normal school year we use three strategies to help achieve the AGR of reducing class sizes, instructional coaching and using one to one teaching, both by a licensed teacher. This year we have only been able to use reducing the class sizes and we continued with our typical assessments. Reading proficiencies overall, we saw positive trends but goals we set were not met, but at the same time we did a nice job of maintaining and promoting growth in some areas. We were in the middle of a pandemic, students and teachers were in and out of the classrooms so to maintain and have growth, that is something to be proud of".

"We were looking for 100% proficiency for Kindergarten, First and Second grades. Kindergarten was at 80%, first grade was at 68% and second was at 72% so we saw growth and third grade goal was 55% and achieved 52%. Looking at our math proficiency, we showed good growth. 5K, first and second grade, our goal was to have 70% of students meeting that bench mark being proficient or advanced, with 5K reaching 79%, first grade at 71%, second grade was a lot of growth but not enough to meet our goal and the third grade goal was 55% and came in at 45%, just a little short of reaching our goal. We saw positive growth going in the right direction. Our biggest takeaway is we have work to do. The biggest thing is that our kids do best when they are here with us, so having our kids back full time in school next year is fantastic. We will be able to put all three of those AGR strategies back into place so we can start reducing that gap and will have an intervention team back at full speed with additional interventionists and improved professional development. I think we are on the right track and will be looking at professional development and coming up with some goals".

Rau then commented, "One of the take aways beyond the data are the root causes of our concerns, with learning and math being the same across the board. It is best practices for instructions, more work on our curriculum, scope of sequence and things like that. We are not going to have to have a separate plan for literacy or math, everything is going to be able to transfer over, so we are looking forward to that".

Three resignations were presented by Rau including, High School Counselor Michaela Newberry, Amanda Benson, PELC Teacher and Mariel Carter as a School Board Member.

Several donations were received including $1,544 from PTSO (Parent Teacher Student Organization) for the vending machine books and LED writing tablets; $250 from M&M Youth Soccer Association for the girls soccer program and $750 from the Peshtigo Lions Club for the SEED (Students Eat Every Day) program.

No changes were made to the Middle High School student handbook, but one addition will be added to the Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center (PELC) student handbook. There will be an addition outlining the process of how behavioral problems will be addressed. Further discussion and procedures need to be laid out of how to move forward with the proper steps and protocols for warnings, phone calls, flow charts, kinds of behavior to address and what elevation is taken both in the classroom and the office.

A CNA Course Book application was approved for the Start College Now program. Also approved was the WIAA Membership for the 2021 - 2022 school year which is renewed every year.

There was not much to report from Buildings and Grounds, other than an appointment to view and discuss a property located on Ellis Avenue on Thursday, June 17.

In her Presidents report, Kelly Jones addressed the board saying, "Thank you for finishing the school year strong. Graduation went very well. We will be replacing school board member Muriel Carter and applications will be accepted and should be directed to Patrick starting immediately. An ad will go in the Peshtigo Times, on Social Media and on Skyward and the deadline for applications will be Monday, July 5".

Rau replied, "In my experience interviews have been in open session or the board can go through the process as a committee. We can choose to interview all candidates or screen them and the process has to be completed by August. The only disclaimer is that the applicant cannot be employed by the District".

Board Member Jenni Schwittay suggested, "Maybe we can set a guideline if there is more than five applicants, we go into closed session and if there are five or less, interview them at the July Board meeting".


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