School Board Notes

School Board Meeting Notes – 10/17/16

Please note that these are unofficial school board notes taken by an AFE board representative.

There was a “board retreat from 6-7pm. The public was invited to attend but not comment. The topic of the retreat was the art, music and foreign language course offering given by the district. (At least 13 community members and district staff members were also in attendance. )

The board members discussed how art, music and foreign language courses fit into the district’s vision statement. There was a review of the history of the “fine arts” graduation requirement at the high school.

Concern was voiced about the “pipeline” of students choosing arts, music and foreign language and how schedule changes at the elementary and middle levels may be impacting student choices of course offerings when they get to high school.

At this point student choice of course enrollment impacts staffing levels of arts courses, creating some less than full time positions. These positions are difficult both to fill and retain.

Board members reaffirmed their commitment to arts and foreign language education. They also recognize that arts education has a great deal of community support in Whitefish Bay. They are going to pursue creative solutions given the challenges of the current fiscal environment.

Regular School Board Meeting

Current district enrollment is 3,018. The district is down 8 students from the previous year but student numbers are higher than were projected when they were creating this year’s budget. They are predicting an increase in resident enrollment in the coming years.

A summary of the Whole Child School Surveys was given. Some highlights include:

  • At Cumberland: 98% of 4th and 5th grade students report that teachers are good at teaching” indicating a high level of engagement.
  • At Richards 100% of students reported that teachers want them to do their best and 100% report that students are kind to one another.
  • At the Middle School 95% of students reported that teachers always/often have high expectations.
  • At the High School 84% of staff often/always have high expectations.

All schools use data from the reports to look for areas where they can grow and are committed to working proactively to find strategies to meet student needs.

There was an update regarding the School Board’s membership in the South East Wisconsin School Alliance. This is a regional educational advocacy group of urban and public school districts of which Whitefish Bay Public Schools is a member. The group has recently proposed a change to its mission statement which would take out the word “public”. Our school board has taken a position which opposes this change—and has asked this organization to retain its focus on public education. Our board has made a formal statement to this organization in that effect.

This year there will be curriculum renewals in the areas of music/art and human growth and development.

There was a brief update about the first meeting of the newly formed Human Growth and Development curriculum committee. This committee will be reviewing district curriculum to ensure that it is medically accurate and developmentally appropriate.

A calendar committee has been formed to review current district calendars. There has been a change of state law which requires a certain number of instructional minutes, versus number of days. This change impacts each building differently.

New proposals for middle school courses include: Design Modeling, Green Architecture, Medical Detectives and Design Challenge.

In the high school, proposed addition to the biomedical track include: Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions.

The board spent time investigating one of the “Seven Thriving Dispositions” that have been put forth by the Transformational Educational Practices committee. These are dispositions that the committee believes will be our competitive edge in the future.  Board member Jennifer Dragseth gave an overview of the philosophy of Creativity and Imagination.

(There was a final board meeting session regarding compensation models, but the AFE Board Member who was recording notes was not able to attend.)