AFE Events · District events · School Board Notes

District Annual Meeting Wed 9/6 7:00 pm

The Annual Meeting for the School District of Whitefish Bay is scheduled for Wednesday September 6 at 7:00 PM in the Auditorium of the High School.  This meeting is an important event for the district.  At the meeting the residents of Whitefish Bay who are in attendance have the responsibility of approving the proposed budget.  Attendance is highly recommended and the meeting is always kept short.

In addition, if you missed it the district has issued the following statement in October regarding the impact of the 2015-17 Biennial Budget on the Whitefish Bay School District it is still a good read.

Click here for additional information about the meeting agenda for Wednesday.

School Board Notes

School Board Notes – July 12, 2017


High School Graduation Requirements: The School Board discussed changing the graduation requirement to require 2 Cultural Arts credits. Cultural Arts would include music, art and foreign language. Most students already take a foreign language so this wouldn’t add anything to most student’s schedule. It is more about putting an emphasis on the arts, which is something the Whitefish Bay community believes in. Additionally, it was noted that the elimination of a required introductory art class increased participation in art classes.

Staffing Updates: Richards is expected to have 609 students (3rd grade will have 4 sections and junior kindergarten will have 3 which could increase to 4). Cumberland is expected to have 739 finalized until August. There were concerns expressed about class size due to the difference between the two schools’ student count. The administration stated that they watch this closely though it has been years since the dividing line between the two schools has been charged.

Post-Retirement Report: Current cost retirement benefits is 21 million with 2.6 million accrued (earned by employees). There is 19 million currently in the district’s trust. There will be a discussion about not putting additional money in the trust this year since the district is very close to fully funded. The district does not want to have the retirement overfunded since the money cannot be removed once put into the trust. Additionally, there is a new actuarial study being completed soon. The district’s rating has been increased to AA.

State Budget Update: It was noted that the aide projections are determined based upon made up numbers at this point. Other areas of the budget discussed were transportation and gun safety.

Changes in Policies for staff: Some minor changes were made to the staff’s conduct requirements. There were two sections with wording that concerned the board. Basically, they wanted to wait until the beginning of the school year to allow staff to provide comment before being adopted by the board.

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

School Board Notes

School Board Notes – June 28, 2017

Instruction Committee Meeting – called to order at 7:00

Sandy Saltzman, Anne Kearney, Pam Woodard, Kristin Bencik, Doug Armstrong

Maria Kucharski, John Thomsen, Stacy Gahan  – present

Kristin Yunker is out of town, W. Brett Christiansen is sick

Technology Plan– Maria introduced Dan (business side of technology) and Cassie (IT for teaching and learning) who went through a presentation of their process and timeline for achieving goals of:

  1. Providing the school community with reliable infrastructure and equitable access to technology resources and devices for teaching, learning, and productivity.
  2. Ensure that sound data governance policies and procedures are developed and implemented to ensure the privacy, safety, and security of confidential data sets.
  3. Define and integrate the Global, Media, and Digital Literacy competencies into the curriculum to ensure students develop the necessary competencies to be successful in our global society.
  4. Ensure teaching practices integrate the competencies and/or the seven thriving dispositions.
  5. Questions/Comments from Board:

Anne K: Brett (Board rep on the committee) had very positive feedback.

Anne K: Do we need to fast-track policies at the Board level to ensure privacy measures?

Cassie- not sure yet. Maria- speaking with others regarding info from DPI. If they came across something that needed to be prioritized she’d let them know.

Anne K: ask for information to be shared regarding the competencies/ thriving dispositions at future meetings.

Pam: Like seeing equitable access in Goal 1. Does that mean that every student has equal access to devices?

Dan: we are trying to get to that point. Cassie: We are trying to standardize the grade level classrooms. Maria: Different departments may have different needs. We want teachers to have technology available to prepare students for testing situations. Dan: working to standardize the set ups for each classroom so that teachers can move seamlessly between rooms.

Doug: appreciate the work, know this is a high priority. On equity issue do we need to think about what access kids have at home? Cassie: aware of situations where students (at high school) do check out devices from the library.

Question about internet service at home? We currently don’t have a way to check out wifi. Maria: colleague in a district where they check out sticks that go into TV to deliver internet. But they are not filtered.

Doug: How much of a threat is there to the security of the network/hacking?

Dan: Information is shared across districts regarding various threats and shut them down as quickly as possible. Always watching.

Shawn: Student information and district finances are not stored on the district network, they are web-based programs, so that information is not at risk.

District Standards Notification– required notice of Student Academic Standards to be approved in July. Statement available on board docs.

C3 Framework: College, Career & Civic Life for Social Studies Standards- Maria & Dr. John DeRose (HS social studies teacher)

  1. DeRose: Went through a preview of what the social studies standards will look like. Presenting the plan before doing all the work. Just a framework.
  2. Using Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Social Studies- very broad (for good and bad) and Common Core State Standards for Literacy in All Subjects- gives a general description of disciplinary reading/writing/speaking.
  3. Dimensions: Developing questions and plan inquiries; Applying disciplinary tools and concepts; Evaluation sources and using evidence; Communicating conclusions and taking informed action
  4. Inquiry-based, skills-based but not specific, content-based facts. No specific set of information that students will learn (ie states and capitals).
  5. Questions/Comments from Board:

Kristin B.: Concern about lack of knowledge base. There has to be certain historical things that need to be integrated.

John: sure. In the current plan there are not specific facts, but there are themes that are open for teaching/learning the specific details that are integral to the theme.

AP US history course intentionally designed to not focus on specific people/battles rather than risk leaving important pieces out.

Doug: They still have to pass the state civics test. (groans)

Anne K: Skill building focus rather than pure knowledge base. Concern about tolerance. Hope this is the place where students learn to be tolerant.

John: excellent point. That is my biggest problem with it. It is very intellectual model but lacking the compassion and teamwork components. Something we need to attend to.

Pam: What about service learning? Answers “what can we do in our own community?”

John: Yes, we already have a course in the high school that does this and kids appreciate it.

Personnel and Policy Committee Meeting

Board is consulting with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) to improve language around district policies and procedures and insure that district policies comply with state and federal law in “waves”. Areas of focus will include:

School board legal status, vacancies on the school board, codifying current graduation policy, staff discipline, staff use of physical force, use of seclusion and physical restraint.

Finance Committee Meeting

Three years ago big changes were made to compensation practices. Last year there was a review of these changes. A market analysis for each position in the district was conducted. These reviews will be carried out on as needed going forward.  There will be a meeting with union representatives before September so that teacher contracts will be updated.

There is a current stalemate of the state budget. Still waiting on resolution from the state before projections for 2017-18 can be confirmed.

Buildings and Grounds Committee: Enhancing Culture of Safety

Stacey Gahan and Brian Chase presented an updated on what the district has been doing over the past school year to enhance the culture of safety:

  1. Student/ parent surveys
  2. PBIS
  3. Non Violent Crisis Response Training
  4. Physical Enhancements-PA Systems throughout have been installed throughout the buildings. Announcements can be made to the public areas outside.  FOB access to all buildings allows for tracking of who is in the building.
  5. Intruder Response TrainingOn June 12 representatives from all buildings participated in a district safety response training. Training was intended to understand different options about different responses to emergencies, outside of the standard lockdown procedures. Shifting from a “what if” to “what then” mindset. There is no single response to an emergency event.
  6. District is investigating visitor management systems. Need to have a balance of a welcoming environment and student safety. District is behind other districts in this area.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:30 pm.

School Board Notes

School Board Notes – June 14, 2017

Present: W Brett Christiansen, Sandy Saltzstein, Doug Armstrong, Pam Woodard, Kristin Bencik, Anne Kearney, John Thomsen, Shawn Yde, Maria Kucharski, Stacy Gahan.

Absent (excused) Kristin Yunker

The agenda with supporting documents can be found here.

Call to order at 7:00pm.

Board highlights:

An approved personnel report with news of retirement for Jim Loebl, Sharon Mergener, and Hannah Mwai, and the hires of Lisa Alsch, Sarah Tuttle and Sara Suesskind.

Board also approved:

  • Ch 220 Interdistrict Agreement
  • 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 Calendars found here: 2018-19 and 2019-20
  • Tentative 2017-18 Budget for Publication- Shawn Yde made clear that numbers might change once the state budget has been completed. Likely July.
  • The Education for Employment Report Including Academic Career Planning.Board
  • and authorized Administrator Contracts for 2017-19.  All current administrator contracts renewed. Board members expressed thanks to the administration team.

In the biennial budget update discussion, Shawn Yde reported:

  1. Senate prefers Governor’s proposed budget of $200 (year 1)/$204 (year 2)
  2. Assembly proposed $150/$200 and raising lowest funded districts revenue cap, added in funds for special circumstances such as consolidation in union districts. Increase to the open enrollment per pupil amount from $6748 to Independent charters to $8,800. Special needs scholarship program for open enrollment change $12000/pupil to actual full cost for each and every individual student. Remove some of the caps in charters. Assembly proposal also withdrew the contingency of 12% health care paid by teachers.
  3. Governor has indicated he will not approve a tax increase.

Meeting Adjourned 7:54

A full transcript of AFE board member’s reports may be found here.

School Board Notes

School Board Notes – May 24, 2017

7:00pm Room 47, WFBHS

School Board members present:
John Thomsen, Anne Kearney, Kristin Yunker, Doug Armstrong, Pam Woodard, Kristin Bencik- Bourdreau, W Brett Christiansen, Sandy Saltzstein

Others Present: Shawn Yde, Stacy Gahan, Maria Kucharski, Brian Chase, Jennifer Dragseth & Anne Perina


1. Update of 220 agreement. Significant change is that the agreement now provides schools the right to deny a student, if MPS will not pay for the additional cost of a student who qualifies for an IEP. This would be a cost for services that are in excess. It doesn’t mean WFB would choose to send them back to their resident district but that WFB has that option.

2. Buildings and grounds update.  Click here for slide presentation.  B&G is responsible for 660,000 sq ft building floor space & 40 acres of grounds. Brian Chase is very happy with his team and the numerous projects they have completed this year and has a decent list of projects they are currently working on and will complete in the next year.

3. Budget update from Shawn Yde.   Click here for school board list of budget concerns.  An update on the budget was given by Shawn Yde which showed a balanced budget. After a long discussion, it was reiterated that he had to make a ton of assumptions as there’s nothing final at this time. Shawn made conservative estimates within his budget and nothing can be finalized while we wait for legislature to make some decisions and enrollment numbers to make significant determinations.

4. Calendar committee update on significant changes.  Click here for slide presentation.

  • consistent calendar for K-12 so families with students in multiple buildings follow the same schedule
  • move elementary schools to semesters
  • Spring conferences in which scheduled time would be initiated by either parent or teacher, but not required.

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

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.


School Board Notes

School Board Meeting Notes – 04/26/17

7:00 pm, WFBHS.  Anne Kearney instructed the 20+ community members in the audience about the procedure for public comment and emphasized that the Board was NOT going to be voting on staffing tonight.

Organizational Meeting.

The Board welcomed new member, W Brett Christiansen.  Anne Kearney was elected President, Kristin Yunker was elected VP and Clerk and Doug Armstrong was elected Treasurer.

Personnel & Policy Committee Meeting.

  • Salaries for classroom teachers in WFB:  Yde said range is $43,000 to $83,000 (relative to experience).  Average for a brand new teacher in this area is $41,000.
  • A significant change: Four library/media center secretaries will now be categorized as Paraprofessional I.  They will no longer get paid vacation (although they will get paid for what they’ve earned so far) and their hours have already been cut to 5.75 per day.
  • 2017-18 Staffing FTE’s (Full-Time Employment).  The staffing changes that are proposed are due to enrollment. State law requires that teachers receive notification of economic non-renewal by May 15th. Enrollment is declining due to the 220 program phase out and other factors.  The Board stated that class size is very important.  The enrollment numbers from November see a decrease of 60 students at Richards Elementary.  The Board will be issuing economic non-renewals to three teachers, including elimination of  a Richards 3rd grade teacher.
    • Superintendent Thomsen says the Board is issuing the economic non-renewals to “position the Board to add staff later if necessary.”  Thomsen and the other members of the Board repeatedly stated that this is very preliminary and setting the low end.  Yde stated that the non-renewals “came to the attention of people who do not understand our process.”  Board member Bencik-Boudreau asked the Board how information to the general public can be disseminated so there is better understanding.  Thomsen replied that they can read the School Board minutes. (If any of you have read the School Board minutes, you know they are not terribly detailed and are not available on a timely basis.)
    • After May 15th, the Board can only add (not cut) full time staff but they can both add and cut part time staff.  They also said they would reach out to the “let go” teachers to come back if we need to add staff. This could happen as early as June but could be as late as August. The Board will vote on the staffing FTE’s at the May 10, 2017 meeting.

Public comments

The first comment was from the Middle School library secretary about the handbook revision that would make her job classification go to Para I.  All the other comments (12 or 13 in all) were in reference to cutting a 3rd grade teacher at Richards.  The citizens implored the Board to reconsider.  They cited class size, demographics (not just numbers), personal experience with the current 2nd grade class, increased teacher expectations and student needs.  One parent asked that if the decrease is due to phasing out of 220 program, are we proactively working on replacing the lost students?  Also she commented that communication needs to be better and to happen sooner.

Instruction Committee

Elementary Time Study Report Update- Maria Kucharski shared the results of the study.  Click here for her report.

  • Survey Results- i.e. common team time (60 minutes/day) for collaboration and 2 recesses/day valued; met 70% of priorities
  • Refinements based on results: i.e. maintain face-to-face world language in 1st grade and up, no language lab in 1st grade, to be evaluated at other grades.
  • More to do: rename “specials” to “encore” so they are viewed as part of our core classes; common planning time for encore and special education teachers.

Equity and Excellence Update- John, Maria, Stacy reported on the work of the Closing the Achievement Gap Consortium which consists of 22 public/private schools which meet at Concordia.  Click here for their report, which includes DPI recommendations.  Recent census shows that school district is slightly more diverse than WFB village.

Board Learning- – Doug Armstrong read an insightful reflection on one of the Seven Thriving Dispositions: Effective Oral & Written Communication Skills.

Meeting adjourned 10:48pm.

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