Lunch prices will increase for Colfax students and staff, board still looking for new ag teacher

By Marlys Kruger

The old saying “there is no such thing as a free lunch” was brought to mind as the Colfax school board voted to increase lunch prices for the 2013-2014 school year at the monthly meeting held April 15. Lunches will increase 10 cents for each level, increasing the 4 year olds price to $1.45, grades K-5 $2.20, grades 6-12 $2.35 and staff/adults to $3.35. According to District Administrator Bill Yingst, the Department of Public Instruction lists the weighted average lunch price equal to or above $2.59 as compliant. Currently, the weighted average price for the Colfax district is $2.17.

In other new business, the board approved the hiring of Patti Varpness as the Food Service/Payroll person for the school district. Varpness has an Associate Degree in Accounting from CVTC and has many years of experience in the business area.

Interviews for a new agriculture teacher are still being conducted with 5-6 candidates being considered for the job. It is hoped there will be a new teacher hired by the next board meeting.

The final motion passed for the evening was to buy a new Manitowoc ice machine for $2600 to replace the one that stopped working after many years of use. The machine is used primarily for athletic injuries/therapy which includes physical education classes and miscellaneous classroom use.

Old Business

Todd Kragness and Joel Hilson took the Oath of Office again, after being voted in to retain their place on the board two weeks ago. Official results of the election showed Kragness with 506 votes and Hilson with 488. There was one write in vote in the Town of Grant. (Word has it somebody doesn’t think I am busy enough and I need to serve on the board.).

Fees for the summer swimming program will remain the same which is $15 for one student and $25 for a family.

“I believe it is important to keep the cost affordable for families because taking swimming lessons is something every child should have the opportunity to do,” Yingst said.

High School graduation will take place Friday, May 17 and board members Christie Hill and Ken Neuburg volunteered to help distribute diplomas at the ceremony.

Special Education Director Polly Rudi presented a breakdown of children in the Birth to 5 Program at the Colfax Head Start Center. 37 children were enrolled in the past year (22 from Colfax) with 26 in the age 0-3 group and 11 in the 3-4 age group. 38% of Head Start families served were one parent families and 14% of families whose primary language is not English were served.

A final equalization aid payment to the district came in March 14 for $1,236,391.00, making the total for the 2012-2013 year $3,307,823.00, and a Lottery and Gaming settlement in the amount of $6,672.81 was issued to the district.

Administrators reports

Grades 7-12 principal John Dachel stated the next six weeks will be busy ones, especially in the sports department. With many of the baseball and softball games and golf and track meets having to cancel or post-pone their events already, it hasn’t been easy re-scheduling everything.

“We still don’t know when the fields will be dry enough to play on,” he said. “We will cancel non-conference games first and we’ll have to play some double headers for baseball, softball and golf. The best way to find out if things are on or not is to call the school or check our website.”

The athletic banquet is April 24 in the high school cafeteria starting at 7:00, and representative Tom Larson will be at the high school Monday, April 22 at 8:15 a.m. to present a citation to the girls basketball team for their success at the state basketball tournament this year.

A farm tractor safety class will be held April 22-25 for students ages 12 and up and students in FBLA and FCCLA were competing in and attending state conventions this past week. The high school prom is scheduled for April 27 in the Martin Anderson gym with the grand march at 8:45 and the after prom party is at Action City in Eau Claire.

The music department is busy with the grades 7-12 spring concert April 30 at 7:30 and the solo ensemble competition is May 4 at UWEC.

CPR training for all seniors will take place the week of May 6 while the senior Baccalaureate service is Wednesday, May 15 and the senior banquet is May 16.

Dachel reported on a General Education Diploma Option (GEDO) Plan the district is looking into that would allow the district to use the GED test battery to measure proficiency in lieu of high school credit for students enrolled in an alternative education program. In other words, rather than paying for students to attend CVTC or another place to earn their GED, the school could be authorized to teach those classes in house and if the student passes the tests, they would receive their GED. The district must receive approval from the DPI to run the program which requires 15 hours of instruction a week with at least 10 hours coming from math, science, social studies, language arts and health. The classes must be taught by a certified teacher and the classes would be taught during school hours. There are several other requirements the district must agree to before the DPI will approve them for the program.

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde stated there were 42 students enrolled in the Junior Kindergarten program for next year—so far. 25 are signed up for the morning while 17 are in the afternoon program. A breakdown of class sizes for next year in grades K-6 was presented and the number of current teachers indicates no new staff will need to be hired. As of now, the largest class will be 24 students.

Hovde also gave updates on several programs including Accelerated Reader, Dibels, Star Math and Kindergarten Reading.

“Most of our kindergarten students have learned their letter identification and beginning sounds,” he said. “Many of them are already reading AR books independently.”

Fifth graders are working on the Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education  (D.A.R.E) program with Dunn County officer Rod Dicus. A graduation date has not been set yet.

Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week was April 15-19 and students and staff participated in a state wide drill April 18.

Kindergarten graduation will be May 9, the same day as the spring concert for grades 1-6 and the art show in the foyer.

Rudi, speaking as the Curriculum Director, informed the board School Performance cards for the 2012-13 year will be released to the public on April 23. Reading and math scores were calculated differently this year to align with the more rigorous National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores. At this year’s parent/teacher conferences, teachers shared this year’s and last year’s WKCE scores for students with the parents with an explanation on how to compare them to get an accurate snapshot on their child’s performance.

20 students from Mrs. Link’s and Mr. Kyle’s special needs classes and two parents attended the Transition Conference at UW-Eau Claire March 21. “Feedback from staff and students indicated it was an excellent conference,” Rudi (now back to speaking as Special Education Director) said. .