First thing I noticed was that there were 15 people attending the meeting and none of them were students. Many of the attendees were teachers. There were multiple meetings that occurred successively. Also of note: Anne Berleman Kearney is now the President.
First meeting was called a “special meeting” to approve the personnel report. Three teachers’ resignations were accepted. It was over in less than 15 minutes.
Second meeting was a “Personnel & Policy Committee” meeting. It lasted approximately 75 minutes. Stacy Gahan went over all of the revisions to School Board policies including the following: authority to suspend, overtime reporting and approval forms, capital assets/capitalization and student records Rule 347. The discussion mostly centered on the student records rule, which involved creating a new form for parent/guardians to sign to opt out of having information shared in the school directory. By signing that form, the student will be kept from a list shared with military recruiters but also may not receive mailings from certain colleges and universities. Some Board members requested that the form be revised or explained so that parents understand what they’re signing.
In the same meeting, they discussed modifications to Employee Handbooks. Cindi Maier was there to explain and answer questions. A major discussion centered on long-term disability and insurance. Up to this year, the district would pay up to one year of the health insurance costs of an employee who is out on long-term disability. The price for this coverage is now too expensive, so this will no longer be covered. In Shorewood, the district has chosen to put aside a fund of $25,000 to help employees who may be in this position. The Whitefish Bay school board discussed the possibility of such a fund here also, but decided against it.
The third meeting was “Finance Committee” and lasted approximately 35 minutes. Shawn Yde presented the tentative 206-17 budget. There is a projected loss of 53 resident students so the state cap will decrease. Fund 39 debt payment is the same, 2% salary increase for certified staff and a slight decrease in state aid. Fund 80 increases 4.6% due to reclassification of tax levy (1.7% increase). All of the numbers are simply estimates now. We will get more information and more definitive numbers by the end of the summer. There was a brief but interesting discussion about voucher students and how our district is impacted even if none of our students go to voucher schools. The state allocates money from districts across the state to cover the vouchers.
At this point, the meeting(s) had been going on for almost two hours and the final meeting began: Instruction Committee.
Maria Kucharski spoke about the focus plan update #3: TRANSFORMATIONAL EDUCATION PRACTICES (TEP). The committee has parents, teachers and community members on it. She had a power point presentation that was very informative. The committee has the following recommendations:
- Keep the 7 thriving dispositions in mind
- Establish community of practices around specific strategies
- Thriving dispositions need to be aligned and strategic in School Board, District and building goals
- Showcase the work that is done
- There is no one answer—let’s work in concert
- We can and should be doing more: our kids will continue to excel but we need to make it all more meaningful
Will the community accept changes?
Will the School Board accept changes?
Doug Armstrong read a prepared statement and quoted the Focus Plan. He is wondering what the Board’s level of commitment is.
Jennifer Dragseth spoke of the pedagogy of hope.
Anne B Kearney suggested that the Focus Plan may need some revision. The Board needs time to discuss, possibly in a retreat over the summer. And where are we on educating the community?
At this point, and this is not how the meetings usually go, the floor was opened for public comments. Eight people made public comments. This is also unusual. Some were community members on the TEP committee. Others were just concerned citizens. Amy Lovell from RedGen offered her group’s assistance to get the information out to the community and/or get them to buy in. A representative from AFE did the same.
At this point it was 10:15 so I had to leave. The Board was going to discuss TEP a little more that night but it was tabled for a future meeting.
The other agenda item was the “World Language Pilot Update.” I think that due to the lateness of the meeting, this was simply introduced with the discussion taking place at the June 8, 2016 School Board meeting.
This was an excellent example of really interesting and important information at a School Board meeting.
**The are notes from the AFE member in attendance. These are not official meeting minutes.