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Colfax school board approves policy updates

By Marlys Kruger

A second reading dealing with the wording in some areas of the athletic policy and Online Course policy were a few of the items discussed and approved at the Colfax school board regular meeting January 20.

Changes in the wording of the second draft of the athletic policy had been made but board member Jodi Kiekhafer said she was not real happy at how many pages the policy consisted of and how it was worded.

 “I have looked at at least 10 other school’s athletic policies and many of them are a lot easier to follow than ours,” she said. “Ours is over 20 pages long and I don’t think it is very easy to understand. It would be nice to have a table of contents so you can find the area of concern you are looking for right away. And I think it could be reworded so everyone is able to comprehend it. Some of it is very vague and not very strict compared to other schools,” she added.

District Administrator Bill Yingst explained he had compared the Colfax policy to the other schools in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.

“We are pretty consistent with what the other schools are doing,” he said. “We are not too strict or not too lenient. It’s hard to keep up with every new aspect of what goes on in schools now days. Dealing with things like rules for social media and electronic devices wasn’t anything we had to be aware of a few years ago. We will always have to keep up with everything new happening in our schools and deal with any necessary changes when needed.”

Board member Ken Neuburg suggested approving the policies for now and if the policy committee wanted to continue looking at the athletic part, they could do that later this spring and make changes then.

In other matters, three names will appear on the ballot for three spots in the upcoming school board election in April with incumbent Christie Hill listed first, Ken Bjork second and incumbent Jodi Kiekhafer third. Current board president Don Berge will not be seeking re-election.

Four board members along with one administrator attended the Wisconsin Association of School Boards annual state convention Jan. 21-24 in Milwaukee. Some of the hot topics of discussion at the convention concerned the school voucher program, allowing local school boards to have sole authority to establish their own school calender and number of contract days, safety belts on school busses and possession of weapons on school grounds.

A list of staff members who will be recognized later this spring for their years of service to the district was presented and at this time there are no retirements in the district.

An early draft of the 2014-15 school calender shows school starting Sept. 2 for students and ending June 4. There are a few changes that will need to be made concerning the holidays before the final draft can be approved.

The board approved accepting the $5,000 donation given annually by the Sanger Foundation to be used for students who need assistance in any way. Some of the money is also used for scholarships. Summer school courses were approved and will include swimming lessons, music lessons, agricultural programs and Summer Saunters as well as many courses held in classrooms that are yet to be determined.

Administrators’ Reports

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde did triple duty and gave all three reports in the absence of high school principal John Dachel and Special Education/Curriculum Director Polly Rudi. Hovde stated there is an increase of two students in grades Early Childhood-6 from the September count. He updated the board on the reading and math programs and said the staff is working on testing all students in grades K-6 with the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)  reading test. There is also an online reading program (Lexia) that can be accessed from both school and home to help students who scored low on the DIBELS test given earlier in the year.  Students spent time writing get well cards and appreciation notes for former bus driver Ralph Bradford, current bus drivers Roger Sonnenberg and Bruce Fransway and school crossing guard Wendy Lausted. Hovde passed around some of the notes for board members to look at and a discussion on cursive writing ensued.

Dachel’s written report stated the grades 7-12 population dropped by six students since September. The largest class is the sophomore class with 76 while the smallest is the freshman class with 47. Several forensics meets will take place  in the next few months including sub-district at Elk Mound Feb. 20, district March 22 at Menomonie and state competition April 11-12 in Madison.There will be several Winter Carnival activities Feb.4-7, culminating with the crowning of the king and queen Friday night at the dance after the boy’s basketball game.

The FFA Alumni Toy Show will be held at the school Feb. 23 from 9:00-3:00 and Youth Options applications for next fall are due by March 3. Driver’s Education information is now available to students and parents in the high school office. Any student who will be 14 years and eight months old prior to Oct. 1, 2014 will be allowed to take Driver’s Education this summer.

Rudi’s report stated students in grades 3-8 will receive the first round of computerized reading and math assessment while students in fourth and eighth grade will also take the traditional Science and Social Studies exams via pencil and paper method. Staff members are working with high school business teacher Kara Zutter on starting keyboarding classes with the younger kids to help with future testing.

Although the dates are not finalized yet, it is anticipated all juniors in the state of Wisconsin will take the ACT test on the same date next year which as of now is March 3 with a make up date of March 18. The school district will need to become an ACT certified building and will need to train staff to administer the exam. The test is anticipated to be funded at the state level and students will be able to use the scores for college entrance.

There was nothing to report from the executive session following regular the meeting.