By Marlys Kruger
During new business activity at the February 18 meeting, the Colfax school board approved the hiring and/or re-hiring of several staff positions for the remainder of this year and for next fall.
Brianne Link, a current staff member, was hired to direct the school play this spring. This year’s play “Alice in Wonderland,” is a non-musical and will take place March 22-24.
Football coaches approved for next fall include returning head coach Mark Maloney as well as Jeff Prince and Joel Steinke who were assistants the past few years. New hires for the program are Carl Rudi and Matt DeMoe. Rudi is a familiar name in the district’s sports program, coaching middle school football and basketball for many years, and he also served as head football coach in 2001. DeMoe played high school football for the Vikings and has coaching experience in Colfax and New Richmond under former Vikings coach Jason Eckert.
Due to a new special needs student entering the district and another one returning, Nancy Hovde was hired as a special education aide for the rest of the year. She will hold the position as long as there is a need for it.
The board also approved the resignation of Laura Klukas as the Food Service Secretary/Assistant Bookkeeper. The job opening has been listed in local newspapers, and so far 22 applications had been received. The process of hiring a replacement will begin immediately.
A shared service agreement with CESA 11 for the 2013-14 school year was also approved. The district uses the services in many areas such as physical and occupational therapy and audiology.
A reminder of the Open Enrollment dates was presented by District Administrator Bill Yingst. Dates are February 4-April 30 for parents who wish to apply for their children to attend a school district other than the one they live in.
Summer school dates have been set with swimming lessons taking place June 10-21 at the Elk Mound pool. Summer school will follow June 24-July 3. This will run only eight days because of the Fourth of July holiday.
School board representative Ken Neuburg presented a summary of the resolutions debated at the state school board convention Jan. 23 in Milwaukee. Some of the ones he thought pertained to the Colfax district included:
• Resolution 13-01 – supporting the creation of a new state funded educational technology initiative to help meet online adaptive testing, the state accountability system, curriculum and instructional standards aligned to college and career readiness, and rigorous teacher and principal evaluation systems. (passed).
• Resolution 13-04- Student Academic and Career Plans. With 30% of all college freshman enrolling as “Undeclared” majors, the resolution asked for all Wisconsin students have an academic and career plan beginning in the middle school grades. This failed on a close vote.
• Resolution 13-05 passed supporting state funding to enable local school districts to make the ACT suite of tests (and/or other comparable standardized tests) available to all students free of charge.
• Resolution 13-14 looked to address shortages of licensed providers of certain special education services (speech and language pathology, occupational and physical therapy, etc.). The subject was the longest debate topic of the afternoon according to Neuburg with the idea of making it easier to become licensed because of the shortage of these workers willing to work in a school district. This proposal failed.
Board members also heard from Erik Kass concerning the Energy Efficiency Exemption (EEE) which was first created by former Governor Jim Doyle in 2009. Wisconsin Act 28 provided authority to the local school board to levy a property tax outside of revenue controls to pay for projects that created energy savings.
In 2011, the law was modified by Governor Walker. Yingst asked the board to look over the information provided by Kass with the idea of using the EEE for roof repairs to the school, finishing off the wireless internet system and buying three new LP buses. The district has no debt at this time and has one of the lowest mill rates in the area at 8.78.
If $600,000 is levied, property taxes would increase $16 per $100,000 of value at a 8.94 mill rate on a 10 year repayment, and if $900,000 is levied, they would increase $22 per $100,000 of value at a 9.0 mill rate.
“With the average state mill rate at 9.8, we would still be under that if we chose to go this route,” Yingst said. “This would be a good opportunity for the district with a minimal tax increase”.
No decision was made at this meeting.
Private School Voucher Expansion
Yingst presented a three page handout concerning Governor Walker’s proposal to increase vouchers for private schools throughout the state. Several board members relayed information they had picked up at the convention on the subject and most agreed increasing the voucher program would harm the public school system.
Yingst believes people should contact their legislators who are Tom Larson and Terry Moulten and let them know they do not support this voucher system.
Grades 7-12 principal stated the next few weeks will be busy with basketball tournaments, music activities, forensics, a school play and the FFA Alumni Toy Show. High school parent-teacher conferences will be Feb. 26 and March 4 from 4:00-8:00.
“By the time we have our next board meeting, track, baseball and softball will all have begun practice,” he said.
Elementary principal Trevor Hovde gave reports on the reading and math programs and said the school has scheduled four mandatory professional development days after school for all teachers. These trainings will be looking at the Accelerated Reader program and reviewing resources available for the students.
Director of Special Education Polly Rudi informed the board Early Childhood Screening would take place March 1, and that she, along with Andrea Brunn and Karen Sahm, will attend the Dunn County Birth to Three Interagency Agreement meeting. At this meeting they will meet with state representatives, CESA representatives and Birth to Three and Head Start/Early Head Start partners to review collaborative practices and legal requirements for Colfax district children ages birth to six.