School Board Notes

School Board Meeting Notes – May 10, 2017

High School Room 47

School board was in closed session until just after 7:00 pm and doors were opened around 7:02 pm.

  1. Opening of Meeting
    • Call to Order, Roll Call. 7:03 p.m. All Board members present along with District representatives: Dr. John Thomsen, Mr. Shawn Yde, Ms. Maria Kurkowski.
    • Statement of Meeting Notice verified.
    • Motion to amend the posted agenda to move item 3 of the agenda (GOOD NEWS) to item 2 of the agenda, and move item 2 (PUBLIC COMMENT or PUBLIC PARTICIPATION ON AGENDA ITEMS) to item 3, as GOOD NEWS involves several High School students, and want to support them leaving earliest.  Motion seconded, and passed unanimously.
    • Motion to approve the amended agenda made, seconded and passed unanimously.
    • Recognition of student displayed artwork selected from Ms. Van Hyle’s classes at both Richards and Cumberland.
    • MAPS student team (Evan Davis, Mohammad Shaheer, Austin Gent, Stephen Koch, Andrew Janssen, and Luke Dragseth) presentation, along with their instructor Ms. Krukar.  These students presented a research project on opioid addiction and a new painkiller that is being tested that treats pain like opioids without the addictive effects. This project involved collaboration with both Concordia University and use of some MSOE resources. The students presented their research and findings and fielded questions from the board.
    • One resident, a Richards parent, made statements in opposition to issuing final non-renewals, with concerns about class size and its short and long term impacts.  Resident was asked at 5 minutes to stop speaking.  (No other public comment given- though this note taker was told by others it was closed by Board President Kearney before they had a chance to come forward.)
    • Consent Agenda Approval – Motion to approve, unanimous approval
    • Approval of 4/5/17 Closed Session Minutes – Motion to approve, unanimous approval
    • Approval of 4/5/17 Regular Business Meeting Minutes – Motion to approve, unanimous approval
    • Approval of 4/26/17 Organizational Meeting Minutes – Motion to approve, unanimous approval
    • Approval of Treasurer’s Report 2017.05.10 – Motion to approve, unanimous approval
    • Appointment of Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) Delegates – Motion to approve Sandy Saltzstein appointment, unanimous approval
    • Appointment of Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) Delegate -Motion to approve W. Brett Christiansen appointment, unanimous approval
    • Approve the lease of classrooms at Lydell to Milestones Programs for Children
      • Discussion by District Business Admin Shawn Yde- same lease as for many past years, modified only to give the district ability to terminate the lease with 4 months’ notice to Milestones, which would allow district ability to use space without having to give more notice if need arose. – Motion to approve, unanimously approved.
    • Approval of personnel report 2017.05.10.  Credentials of all incoming personnel and their qualifications and background read.  Motion to approve, unanimous approval.
    • Approval of 2017-18 employee handbook revisions.
      • Proposed changes that were discussed at length at 4/26/17 meeting were summarized. – Motion to approve, unanimous approval
    • Approve Final Notices of Non-Renewal for instructional employees
      • Comments given by Dr. Thomsen: class size still important value to District. Have only gone to class size of 26 six times in last 23 years. Feedback from parents with concerns was heard and appreciated. District process is careful and deliberate to be able to have flexibility with staffing later rather than having staff a school does not need.
      • Comments from Mr. Yde on the amount of state aid we are going to get- still don’t know the amount. Governor Walker’s budget calls for $200 per pupil aid, WFB budgeted for $125. If we get $200 will be in better shape, but even $125 not guaranteed. Mr. Yde also stated that the idea parents have that “sectioning” for next year is done right now is wrong, they make those decisions much closer to the start of the school year.
      • Majority of board members spoke up and voiced their thoughts.  Most of them echoed that this was a hard decision, but the one they felt was the most necessary from a financial standpoint.
      • (Kristin Yunker) The Board is responsible to answer to the entire community not just the families at one school and the needs at an elementary school are no more important than the needs at say a middle school.  She also stated (in reference to a group of 5 high school students who presented the MAPS study) these kids were in classrooms that sometimes approached 25 and they turned out great. She lastly stated she sees the staffing process as trying to set a family budget without knowing how much money is available and how many mouths she needs to feed so she is going to be very conservative in pledging any money until she knows more.
      • (Dr. Kristin Bencik-Bourdeau) She has kids at Richards and thus knows how hard it is to make these cuts and if there was anything else that could be done she would vote in favor of that but there just isn’t
      • (Doug Armstrong) The Board has taken a lot of time advocating to our local legislators (Jim Ott and Alberta Darling) about a) how important state funding is to our schools and how much we need this funding and b) how the process of having to make staffing choices now (by state mandate) months before the state budget and then months later word of the state aid comes out is a backwards and frustrating process and that he’s advocating for change in that.  Mr. Armstrong also cited a number of documents the board has put together on these topics and recommends concerned parents read these pieces and contact our legislators on these topics. These documents are on the board docs- 10.19.16 State Budget; advocacy letter to local representatives and health insurance premium funding letter to local elected officials.
      • (Anne Kearney) The enrollment numbers are just not there to not make this choice and that given the uncertainty of the budget and limited resources there is no other choice.  This is not a new process, it happens all of the time that staffing changes at schools and she feels glad that we are not like other districts that are losing 25 or more teachers because they were not fiscally conservative in their budgeting. She feels our system and class sizes work and that while maybe the board should look at changing some of the process and start looking at handling enrollment shifts better, the tradition of going up to 25 students per class is a proven, sustainable and fiscally conservative approach that works for our district. Ms. Kearney also pointed out that she heard a lot from families about the troubles that one grade at Richards this year particularly faced (2nd) and that the District’s focus plan is an inclusive program and the special needs kids deserve and are getting the attention they need and the challenges that creates for other children in that grade are good life lessons that they will have to face in the real world.
      • Motion to approve non-renewal made and unanimous approval.
    • Approve the 2017-18 Staffing FTE and Approve the Corresponding Instructional Employee Contracts
      • Discussion was that this was covered in prior discussion. – Motion to approve, unanimous approval
  6. Information Reports – The 17-18 State Biennial Budget Update
    • Mr. Yde gave update on process, referenced earlier comments. May 22 Joint Finance Committee will look at Transportation and Education items in budget, so that is deadline for meaningful advocacy to elected representatives. Senator Darling Chairs the Joint Finance Committee.
    • District Supervisor Dr. Thomsen echoed call to action that concerned parents advocate to elected officials for educational funding.
    • Discussion on what is appropriate for board members when it comes to advocating for the district and expressing personal opinions.  The consensus was that as citizens they have a right to express their opinions but they should be careful to preface any remarks as being their own and not the opinion of the board.
    • Discussion about the actual impact to the budget the district will see if the additional funding of $200 per pupil currently proposed by Governor Walker.  It was restated several times that this increase would only allow the district to stay close to status quo.  It was also re-stated that there are districts that have much larger anticipated lay-offs right now.  $200 per pupil is not a windfall.   Shawn Yde stated everyone is waiting to see where the state budget goes. There is a lot of uncertainty, but he guarantees he will do the best he can to try to make it all work.
  7. Recreation Department Report
    • Brett Christiansen will be serving as the advisory board representative, replacing Anne Kearney
    • Every school in the area has representation on the board, including St. Monica and Holy Family.
    • K-Camp (for kindergarten students) has been doubled from last year. The spots filled in an hour last year so they saw a big demand.
    • They are continuing their counselors in training program for HS students. It is in its 3rd year and a big success.  They hope to fill 35 positions this year.
    • There will be staff training soon for inclusion practices, first aid and team building
    • Registration opened 4/3 and already 1500 families have registered for summer programs.
    • Pre-school registration for 2017/18 has begun and the early bird incentives end on 6/30.
  8. Invitation for public comments – none
  9. Calendar Committee Report
    • There will be a report next time, Jennifer Dragseth has agreed to continue to represent the board until it is brought to conclusion.

Motion to adjourn. 8:42 pm.

Please note that these are unofficial school board meeting notes taken by an AFE board representative.  For full transcript of notes, click here.