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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Crivitz School Board Hopes For Normal 2021-2022 Year

Issue Date: July 1, 2021

At the Crivitz School board meeting on Wednesday, June 16, Superintendent Patrick Mans reiterated intentions of making the 2021-2022 school year as close to normal as possible while staying within the guidelines set by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) in regard to the Covid pandemic. For the board, things were also back to normal, with the meeting held in the board room rather than the auditeria, and no masks in sight.

Formal action has not yet been taken by the board in regard to masks and any other precautions for the 2021-2022 school year, but effective at the end of the day on Thursday, June 3, the last day of school before summer vacation, masks were no longer required inside or outside school buildings, and other restrictions have been lifted.

The board briefly discussed the move of 7th and 8th grades to the high school building, which is in progress. They also approved plans and financing for a new storage building at the football field and authorized hiring some new personnel, including a part-time mental health therapist and a full-time student success coordinator.

The latter two are new positions to be financed by a 2-year grant obtained through the efforts of the student services team.

Near the start of the meeting, High School Guidance Counselor Alexandria (Alex) Graves and Elementary/Middle School Guidance Counselor Toni Spalding were called on by Superintendent Patrick Mans to explain the Mental Health Grant they had obtained for the district. Mans thanked them and members of their team for the efforts put into writing the successful grant application.

Graves said they had applied for $60,000 but were awarded $150,000 instead. They were hoping for an additional guidance counselor, but those positions are hard to fill, so instead, they are seeking a full-time student success coordinator and a mental health therapist to work two days a week. They hope to partner with one or two other districts to provide a full-time mental health therapist in the area.

Mans said the grant will cover all costs for the two positions for two years, and the positions will only be in effect for that 2-year duration.

Later in the meeting the board renewed an existing contract with Wausaukee School District to share the services of an Occupational Therapist for the 2021-2022 school year.

Mans reported the Crivitz School District was randomly chosen by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to receive a membership audit for the 2020-2021 school year. The audit, performed by Kerber and Rose, came out well, Mans said. Enrollment was down slightly from the prior year.

The board's Buildings and Grounds Committee had met just prior to the 6 p.m. board meeting to finalize plans for the storage building. At that meeting, Athletic Director Jeff Dorschner and Building, Grounds, and Transportation Director Tom White had recommended expanding the storage garage design to include room for the Middle and High School football teams to change into and out of their gear. Mans said this would allow the room currently being used for this purpose to be again used as a classroom.

Mike Dama said in response to Dorschner's suggestion the committee agreed to add some space to the building they and the board had approved last month. This is not another locker room, Dama declared. â€This building was not planned for luxury, it is for practicality!†He said there will only be room for putting on and removing protective gear, not for showering or changing clothes. He said the committee had no problem adding space, but wanted to see a $150,000 limit put on construction cost. The quote from a contractor to build as originally planned was $54,000.

â€This building will not be heated. It is not a locker room, and not a dressing room,†Dama repeated. â€It is a storage area for pads and helmets, which can be put on there.â€

By unanimous vote later in the meeting, the board approved the new plans for the storage building, with the $150,000 budget as requested.

Resignations were accepted from Carrie Messenger as a half-time Pre-K teacher, Vanessa Lecy as a Grade 3 teacher, Mary Kay Kwiatkowski as a part-time food service employee, and Alex Graves as a High School Student Council Advisor.

The board approved hiring Marne Watson as Elementary Art Teacher, Tina Bonikowski as a Grade 1 Teacher, Jonathan Koon as a part-time custodial employee, Joe Hansen as a substitute custodial employee, and Bobbi Jo Tracy, Dan Porath, Rochelle Baca, Anna DeForge, Chloe Gruszynski, Morgen Gyger, Laken James, Chandra LaRue, Allan Milostan and Saige Nelsen as 2020-2021 volunteers/chaperones.

The board also adopted a long list of policy revisions and new policies as recommended by NEOLA. A policy governing parental and police access to library and instructional material center information was deleted and replaced by a new policy on library media centers. One of the new policies adopted governs board member behavior and code of conduct and the other addresses whistleblower protection. Policies are posted on the school website.

Once again, a dispute over mask requirements drew a great deal of discussion and created a bit of dissent.

Amy Grandaw, who was elected School Board President in May by a 4 to 3 margin over incumbent Mike Dama, has been expressing opposition to the mask mandates almost since requirements for students and staff to wear masks began.

By a narrow three to four vote margin at its meeting in April the Crivitz School Board had rejected a motion to end the mask mandate immediately, but then, with only one dissenting vote, approved a motion to end the requirement for masks in district facilities after the end of the current school year on Thursday, June 3. Since then masks have been optional, not mandated, for students and staff, including for summer school classes and group activities indoors and out.

Voting against the motion in April that would have ended the mask mandate immediately and left it up to students and their parents to decide if they would or would not wear masks in the school buildings were Mike Frievalt, Gary Huc, Lyle Cherry and Dama. In favor of making masks optional instead of mandatory were Kris Heidewald, Grandaw and Kayla Ihde. Frievalt cast the only vote against the successful motion to end mandatory masking at the end of the school year.

Asked at the June meeting about plans for mask requirements Mans said currently recommendations from the CDC and health departments are unchanged, despite inoculations against Covid, â€...but there is more leeway depending on what's going on in each district.â€

â€I'm not a health care expert, I am a school administrator,†he declared. â€I can talk with the experts, view their information, and bring it to the board.†He added that based on that information, he could make recommendations and the board would decide.

As to provisions for distance learning for the 2021-2022 school year in case in-school classes are again interrupted, Mans said he plans to have the district purchase some of the Ascellius distance-learning licenses for the year, but not enough for every student in the district, and at this point plans are to not allow at home classes as an option except in cases of illness.

Dama suggested the board should not finalize plans for the coming school year until its August meeting, and commented, â€the only thing we can guarantee right now is that we will make our best effort to start the next year as close to normal as we possibly can.â€

Ihde asked if thy would continue with the extra cleaning that began with Covid precautions. White said they had added about an hour each week for each maintenance staff member to do extra cleaning, but that isn't in the budget for the coming year.

Dama commented that cleaning, masks, the revised attendance policy and social distancing all reduce the risk of sharing any contagious illness.

Heidewald noted that a lot of people have changed their habits - for example, they stay at home when they are sick, and do wash hands more frequently.

White said the extra sanitation stations will remain in place, and they will continue to use the more effective new disinfectants for cleaning.

Just before that conversation began, Huc, without naming names, had asked: â€If we put rules in place, are we going to follow them, as a board?†He said during the past â€very difficult year...some board members did not follow the rules...It looked to me like we were disingenuous...â€

Dama agreed, and added, â€If they say masks, that means everyone wears a mask, and up over the nose.â€

Huc added, â€As a board member...I either have to follow the rule or change the rule! ...I think we need to have that discussion, when we, as a board, set the rules, we have to follow them, whether we like them or not.â€

Cherry, diverting the discussion to the public, said he had a call from someone asking them to not require masks next year.

Dama said they couldn't guarantee anything, for example, if there is another health crisis, â€...but if we voted today, I'd vote against it.â€

Returning to his original path, Huc repeated his question, â€We voted, as a board...Is it okay, for us, as board members, to say â€I don't like that rule and I'm not going to follow it'â€?

Grandaw declared there had been enough of that conversation. â€We all know who we're talking about,†she said, indicating herself. â€I came to this board so many times and asked that it (the rule) be changed,†Grandaw declared. She said at first, the mask mandate had been an administrative decision and was not done by board vote.

Dama acknowledged that was correct, but then said the board eventually had voted down a motion to remove the mask mandate, but Grandaw continued to not wear a mask at board meetings. â€Your response was disrespectful,†he told Grandaw.

Frievalt said they could not compare the mask mandate to the dress code, and said the refusal to wear a mask may be due to a health issue that they cannot legally ask about.

Grandaw repeatedly had argued that masks imposed physical hardships on the girls' team that she coaches as a volunteer, and expressed strong personal objections to them.

She said the masks are a political issue, and in her six years on the school board she had taken a stand on only this one political issue, and then added, â€now it's done and it's over and we need to move on!â€

Huc attempted to continue his comments, but the discussion turned to virtual learning. Mans said in a normal year they would not have a virtual option. Elementary/Middle School Principal Kelly Robinson said they had told teachers last year to become prepared for virtual classes in case a school closing is again necessary.

Frievalt said his daughter had virtual schooling all year, â€and it was seamless...Our teachers are awesome!â€

At the start of the meeting, Mans thanked the students, staff, parents, school board, and the entire community â€for all our efforts at successfully working through a very challenging school year!â€

Mans said the Wellness Committee and Nurse Cindy reviewed the policy for compliance with federal requirements. Due to an increase in the number of students, the increased time of the physical therapist by half a day per week, bringing it to 3.5 days per week, under the agreement with Wausaukee that was approved for renewal later in the meeting.

Mans noted the State Legislature and the Joint Finance Committee are debating the biannual budget for Wisconsin, and there are two schools of thought. Gov. Anthony Evers seeks a large increase in funding, while the Joint Finance Committee's proposed budget has very little increase in funding for K-12 education. He said they rely heavily on federal ESSER funds, which are designed to help districts deal with the pandemic and educational loss, not for general school funding, and the ESSER rules require states to spend at least as much on education as in the last two years, which means Wisconsin would need to allocate $350 million more than provided in the Joint Finance budget to even qualify for federal money.

That said, Mans added the state's financial picture is very strong, with income $4 billion higher than estimated, â€so there's no reason to believe we won't get as much as we did in the last biennial budget.†He said they often don't know how much state money will be coming in until mid-July, and sometimes not until October.

High School Principal Jeff Baumann reported that for the first time in a number of years, summer school was taking place at the high school, where 11 students were involved in two sessions, one from 8 a.m. to noon and the other from noon to 4 p.m. â€These students are earning credit back from classes which took place over the course of the 2020-2021 school year,†Baumann said.

Summer Strength and Conditioning Class is also in session, with 40 students enrolled. Groups meet for three consecutive 1 1/4-hour sessions starting at 7 a.m. There are also two evening sessions for students who cannot participate in the morning. Boys basketball open gyms have also started, and the girls were to start the following week.

â€It definitely feels good to get back to normal as far as high school sports are concerned,†Baumann declared.

He said the Crivitz High School graduation ceremony in May went exceptionally well. â€The weather was good, the speeches were entertaining, and we now have 35 new alumni of Crivitz High School,†he concluded.

Robinson said on May 28 they held an afternoon of picnic and games for 6th through 8th graders as a fun afternoon for students who will not be in the elementary/middle school building next year. She thanked Toni Spalding for doing the planning, and also thanked Salina Polomis, Shelly Vold, Roman Mille, Carrie Klitzke and Stacey Cooper for helping make the event a success.

Robinson thanked board members and Mans for attending the 8th grade recognition night on Wednesday, June 2, when 60 students finished 8th grade. â€I am excited to see their success as they move through high school,†Robinson declared.

She said Summer School was off to a great start. The enrichment session runs through Friday, July 2, and students were able to take three one-and-a-half-hour classes each day.

White reported he had met with the custodial maintenance staff on the last day of school to kick off their summer cleaning and maintenance work. During the meeting, they formulated plans for moving the 7th and 8th grades from the elementary school to the high school building, went over his â€to do†list, and discussed his expectations for the summer.

Two students, Giovanni Anderson, a junior, and Ivan Chairez, a sophomore, were hired to assist summer cleaning and maintenance. â€So far, they have proven themselves to be dependable and hard-working young men,†White declared.

In preparation for the 7th and 8th-grade move they had begun moving furniture and other items from the former elementary/middle school to what is now the middle school/high school.

White said cleaning and clearing of the north wing of the high school are nearly complete, making way for the high school teachers that will be moving out of the west wing where 7th and 8th-grade classes will be located.

White said he has begun work on the â€Douglas†lighting system panels at the high school. The original panels installed when the school was built are outdated and parts can no longer be obtained. The 12 panels being replaced need to be rewired.

Technology Coordinator Nick Schramm reported they have been disassembling and removing technology equipment from computer labs, classrooms, and offices for summer cleaning, the middle school move, and for general room changes.

They were about 80 percent finished evaluating student Chromebooks for damage, are which they would begin the billing and repairs phase.

Efforts to hire an IT Support Specialist have been unsuccessful, so options were to be discussed at a closed executive session of the board held after another business was completed. Administrative staff evaluations were also done at that closed session.

Community Education Director Jolene Huc reported on the activities of that group. She said a babysitting class on June 30 was filled, so they are setting a date for another one. She thanked everyone who helped with the garden party, said Art in the Park is coming up on Aug. 13, and CPR classes for students will be held. They are working with NEWCAP on several business-related classes. At the next Community Education board meeting they will talk about swimming classes, Huc said.




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