Colfax school district mill rate goes down

By Marlys Kruger

When the final figures for the 2012-13 equalized aid and tax levy were released to the Colfax school board at their monthly meeting Oct. 15, it showed the general aid amount from the state to be at $5,038,572.

The board approved a levy of $2,526,281 with a mill rate of $8.77 per $1,000 of property value, which is down from last year’s rate of $8.99.

Joel Hilson filled in for president Don Berge in one of the longer meetings of the year which included an introduction of a new bookkeeper/administrative assistant along with two new teachers to the district. Ashley Kley, a 2010 Colfax graduate, is taking over for Flo Goulet in the administrators office after earning a degree from CVTC.

Kley told the board she will be a notary public and she is working hard on getting to know all the laws set by the Department of Public Instruction. (Everyone wished her good luck on that).

Mae Simpson and Brianne Link are the new cross categorical special education teachers with Simpson working with students from third grade through age 21 while Link spends most of her time with high school students. Both teachers said their main goal was to help all of their students transition into the community and have an individual plan when they leave high school.

Grades 7-12 principal John Dachel gave his report, stating FFA members will be attending the National Convention in Indianapolis Oct. 23-26. He also congratulated the fall sports teams on their season and wished them good luck the rest of the way. The 7-12 fall concert will take place Tuesday, Oct. 30 in the high school gym, and the annual Veteran’s Day program will be Friday, Nov. 9, also in the high school gym. Parent-teacher conferences will be Oct. 22 and 23 from 4:00-8:00 and the end of the first quarter is Nov. 9. Winter sports is just around the corner as boy’s basketball practice begins Nov. 5 while girl’s basketball, along with wrestling begins Nov. 12.

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde updated the board on the Accelerated Reading program and said in just seven weeks of school students have read 22,694,655 words in addition to their classroom materials. Fire prevention week took place last week and Colfax firefighters gave a presentation to students in pre-K-5 and were on hand for a fire drill to help assist staff and students with any unexpected problems that could arise during a drill.

The Response to Intervention is up and running, according to Hovde, and the teachers have been very productive as they move towards a systematic way of supporting all children.

Special Education/Curriculum Director Polly Rudi presented a list of the WKCE testing that will take place for grades 3,4,5,6,7,8 and 10 starting Oct. 23 with make up dates Nov. 9-23. This testing will remain the same until the 2014-15 school year then will be replaced by an examination called Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Rudi also said the new school report cards will be released to the public by the DPI on October 22. The report cards take into consideration a quite complicated algebraic formula that includes many factors. (Details will be in a forthcoming paper).

Old Business

During old business, the policy committee consisting of Joel Hilson, Ken Neuburg and Mike Lee along with administration stated they had reviewed many existing policies and new policy revisions. These included open enrollment, bullying, the on-line course handbook (to be added to existing curriculum-not a policy), new updates on seclusion and restraints and an updated acceptable internet and technology policy.

Superintendent’s report

Bill Yingst told the board the hot topic this year at many of the meetings he has attended is the school voucher program for private schools. If a student wants to leave a public school to attend a private school, the proposal is that the state aid money would go with them to the private school, Yingst explained.

“It’s something we really have to keep our eye on this year,” he said. ”We tend to think this concerns just the bigger school districts like Milwaukee but it could have an impact on smaller districts as well.”

New Business

Open enrollment numbers show 39 students have transferred out of the district while 43 have transferred in.  The total pupil count as of the third Friday in September was 850 with pre-school special education through grade 12 which is an overall increase of six students from last year.

Motions approved by the board included:

• Youth Options applications for seven students for the spring semester with six for CVTC and one for a UW-college on-line class.

• Adopting high school science equivalency credits through Veterinary Science and Food Science classes at the high school. (The DPI is requiring three credits in science next year, up from the usual two). Classes have been approved by the DPI.

• Hiring Carl Rudi as the middle school girl’s basketball coach this year. He will replace Chuck Brown.

• Hiring Andrew Berlin as the assistant wrestling coach. Berlin held the position last year and picks the Colfax wrestlers up and brings them back to school on practice days. Dachel said after a meeting last week, 10 athletes plan on competing and two more have shown interest in wrestling this year.

• Hiring Matt DeMoe as a Special Education teacher’s aid for the rest of the year. DeMoe will work in the pre-k room part of the time as well.

Yingst presented a letter from Paul Hardt from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards concerning Strategic Planning for the district. The cost to have the process done through him would be $7,500-$9,000, depending on the focus and length of the process. Board members asked if they could have Hardt talk to them first and explain the details before they made a decision and Yingst said he would try and make arrangements with him to do just that. It was again mentioned that a survey should be taken throughout the community to help determine what is needed and what is important for the district in the future.

An example of a complete lunch for elementary and high school students was presented so board members could get a better understanding of portion control and new standards set by the federal government.

“Every student is different and our meals may be a lot for one and not enough for another,” Yingst said. “But they are all healthy and our staff does an excellent job with the food service program.” Finding a way to get healthy snacks and drinks for students later in the school day was also discussed.

The board moved into their usual executive session with nothing new to report at this time.