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EM public school events may soon be broadcast on community channel

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND — Public events in the Elk Mound school system may soon be broadcast on West Wisconsin Telcom’s local community television channel.

Lori Myers of West Wisconsin Telcom spoke about the proposal at the Elk Mound Board of Education’s September 17 meeting.

West Wisconsin Telcom started in 1954 as a telephone company and added television service in 2007, Myers said.

The cooperative, which has offices in Menomonie, Eau Claire and Downsville, offers Internet service through its subsidiary, 24/7 Telcom.

A total of 11 school districts are included in the cooperative’s service area, Myers said.

The proposal for the West Wisconsin Telcom community channel would primarily involve broadcasting sporting events, said Paul Weber, high school principal.

School district officials are currently checking on the legality of broadcasting the events, said Ron Walsh, school district administrator.

Any event that is open to the public, such as football and basketball games, and high school plays or concerts, could be shown on the community channel, he noted.

The events have the potential to be broadcast in 6,000 homes, Myers said, adding that West Wisconsin Telcom is hoping to be able to broadcast public events from other schools as well.

Several school board members were concerned about advertisements being included on the community channel.

The channel will not include any commercials, Myers said.

The closest thing to a commercial, she said, might be portions of the Discover Downsville event, as an example, where business owners are briefly interviewed about their businesses.

The Elk Mound school district currently live-streams sports events on the school district’s website, Weber said.

The laws are similar for live-streaming and for broadcasting public school events, Walsh said.

Channel 7, West Wisconsin’s community channel, is currently available to residents in the Elk Mound school district with a telephone prefix of 874 and 283, Myers said.
“It would be an additional convenience for people,” said Tim Sivertson, president of the Elk Mound Board of Education.

Sivertson wondered if the school district had any policies that conflicted with the proposal.

“No,” Walsh replied, adding that the events broadcast on the community channel would be in addition to what is included on the school district’s website but would not replace what is on the website.

Elk Mound Board of Education members did not voice any objections to the proposal, and Walsh said the school district would go forward with pursuing the idea.

The West Wisconsin Telcom community channel contains a variety of programming, including concerts from the Ludington Guard Band in Menomonie, Music in the Park in Colfax, Red Cedar Pullers Truck and Tractor Pull, Menomonie SummerDaze Celebration, and historical segments provided by the Dunn County Historical Society.

Other business
In other business, the Elk Mound Board of Education:
• Learned that Mound View Elementary has an enrollment of 501 students, an increase of 13 over the end of the last school year.
• Learned that Mound View Middle School has an enrollment of 332. A total of 315 to 320 students were anticipated at the middle school, said Eric Wright, principal.
• Learned that Elk Mound High School has an enrollment of 330, which compares to 306 at the end of last year.
• Learned that the Elk Mound district has 28 additional full-time equivalency students this year for a total head count of 1,163. A population study conducted by UW-Madison several years ago predicts that in five years, the school district will have an enrollment of a little over 1,400.
• Learned that the school district may have to add one bus route because of increased enrollment and more high school students riding the buses to school. The district currently has ten routes, has three extra buses and would hire another driver and set up another route using one of the spare buses, Wright said. With gasoline hovering right around $4 a gallon, more students are riding the bus, he said.
• Accepted the resignation of Kelly Hahn as the high school academic decathlon assistant coach.
• Approved continuing the snow-plowing contract with Kurt Van Schoonhoven. The contract is at the same rate it has been for the past four years.
• Confirmed the next meeting date for October 22.