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Colfax school district prepares for new year

By Marlys Kruger

With school beginning September 3 for students, Colfax school board members and administrators had a few things to attend to before the new year starts during the August 19 meeting.

Finding a new special education teacher for the district was one of the topics of discussion after the board accepted the resignation of Mae Simpson a couple of weeks ago.

 Simpson, a native of Menomonie took a position in that same district. Applications were being looked at but no one had been hired as of yet.

The board did approve hiring Tali Eiseth, a current substitute teacher and former Americorp worker for the district, for a special education aide position along with high school English teacher Kim Myers as the first girls’ high school golf coach. In addition, special education teacher Brianne Link will serve as the cheerleading advisor for the football season. Two teachers will transfer to different grade levels due to class sizes with fifth grade teacher Suzanne Bloomberg moving to sixth grade this year and Janice Cox from third grade to second grade.

District Administrator Bill Yingst presented a letter sent from the St. Croix Central School District thanking Colfax for a check for $1,015, money which was raised by several fundraisers and given to Central to be used at their elementary school which was vandalized and had fire damage last winter.

Inspection on the school buses was complete with all buses meeting DOT regulations, according to Yingst. And on a related subject, the Department of Public Instruction authorized the district to provide bus service for students living 0-2 miles from school due to safety issues around the village. Aid in the amount of $15 per pupil will be designated for transportation of the students.

An update on capital projects around the building was given and although there are many things still in progress, everything is on schedule and should be completed by the time school begins, Yingst stated. New carpets, univents, digital controls, indoor lighting, the fiber optic line and sealing the building up are all projects being worked on.The three new LP school buses have been ordered and will arrive in October and should be ready to use November 1.

Earlier in the meeting, several Colfax graduates spoke to the board. Abby Ulcej, a 2012 grad now in her second year at Princeton University and Andrew Almquist, a 2011 grad in his third year at Milwaukee School of Engineering, asked the board to consider offering a computer science class for high school students. The program they presented was called Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS). The program was founded by Kevin Wang and is run by Microsoft, and is designed to give students a much needed background in technology to compete in the job market.

“There are so many high paying jobs right now that need workers with technology backgrounds,” Ulcej said.” And there are going to be a lot more in the future. A class in high school can prepare kids for college and help them eventually land these good jobs.”

The district would have to provide a teacher, computer access with Internet and a $5,000 stipend for transportation costs for a TEALS volunteer. The program will be looked into further by the board and administration.

Also speaking was 2013 graduate Reed Gibson on his trip to Anaheim, California, to participate in the National Future Business Leaders of America competition in Sports Management. Gibson is just the third student from Colfax to qualify at the national level, and although he did not place in the top ten in his division, it was a great experience and will help him as he pursues his degree in Sports Management at UW-La Crosse this fall. He thanked the board and the district for the opportunity to attend the competition.

Brian Brewer, financial consultant with Robert W. Baird and Company arrived later in the meeting to explain the resolution to establish parameters for the award and sale of not to exceed $1,000,000 taxable general obligation promissory notes (Qualified Zone Academy Bonds-Tax Credit). After looking over the 23 page document, the board delegated board president Don Berge and board clerk Mike Lee the authority to accept a note purchase proposal on behalf of the district so long as the proposal meets and is in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in this resolution. The net interest rate on the notes is zero percent and with interest rates where they are now, this will save the district $35,000 per year, Brewer said.

Principals reports

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde stated there are 501 students enrolled in Early Childhood through grade six compared to 484 last year at this time. The largest class shows 83 students in sixth grade while the third and fourth grades both have 49. There are also 64 in the Junior Kindergarten program with 33 in the morning session and 31 in the afternoon. Updates in the Accelerated Reader Program, DIBELS and the Student Success Intervention Team were given as well as the Summer Saunters summer school program. Hovde also stated there are two sessions of bus driver training scheduled in which procedures and expectations/obligations related to safety of students is reviewed. Bus drivers from Menomonie and Elk Mound will participate in the training as well.

Grades 7-12 principal John Dachel presented a list of activities coming up in the next few weeks including sports competitions, teacher in-service and school pictures. All activities are on the school calender which was mailed out two weeks ago to all district residents.

Special Education Curriculum Director Polly Rudi explained the new requirement from the DPI in which an early literacy screener must be administered tests to all four year old kindergarten through first grade students enrolled in public schools in the upcoming year. This will expand to second grade next year. Results of the testing are to be used to identify students with potential reading problems early on.