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Colfax school district prepares for new year with four new staff members

by Marlys Kruger

COLFAX — With the first day of school just around the corner, the Colfax school board approved the hiring of three teachers and a guidance counselor for the upcoming year at the monthly board meeting August 18.

Todd Kragness led the meeting in the absence of Joel Hilson while Ken Bjork listened in via phone conference as the board approved Michael Dombrowski for the high school social studies position, Nancy Hovde for the seventh grade social studies/reading position, Kristina Anderson for the elementary/middle school special education position and Kelly Haskamp for the K-8 school counseling position. The board also approved the resignations of Malia Clements as the elementary/middle school guidance counselor and Zachary Rubenzer as a special education aide.

Dombrowski replaces Andy Meade and has been teaching in the New Auburn district the past eight years and has worked with a lot of extra curricular activities including serving as the head football coach as they transitioned into eight man football a couple of years ago. Hovde has seven years of experience teaching in the La Crosse district and has been a substitute teacher, a special education aide, a reading teacher and a library media assistant for Colfax the past few years. Anderson has been working as a special education aide for Colfax and will move into the teaching position held by Carly Rubenzer who moved into the middle school special education job vacated by Bonnie Froehlich. Haskamp worked as a counselor in the Pepin district for five years and the past year worked in the Spring Valley district. An elementary music teacher is still in need and applications are being looked over with hopes of having a new teacher hired by this week.

The board approved accepting a $500 donation from board member Mike Lee’s father -in -law Patrick Ingvoldstad who passed away in April. Ingvoldstad moved to the Colfax area to be near his family and was very involved with activities at the school, especially the sports program, according to Lee.

Consideration for acquiring land owned by Andy and Nicole Meade was approved and a meeting will have to be set up to meet with them in the future.

Security cameras and door buzzers will be installed at the main doors in the high school and elementary schools after the board approved  a bid of $4,220 from Tru-Lock out of Eau Claire to do the installation. There was another bid of $6,400 for the job by Access Security of Chippewa Falls.

“We are not looking at this as a convenience but as a safety measure for our students and staff,” District Administrator Bill Yingst said. “Many of the other schools in the area already have this set up. It is unfortunate that schools have to have this but that’s how it is now. The doors will be locked during school hours but will be open after school for activities,” he added.

Administrators’ reports

Yingst noted the August Tax Settlement payment from Chippewa County of $137,401.66 was sent on August 20 and a payment of $276 was made to the district from the State of Wisconsin for exempt computer state aid.

The open enrollment amount the district will receive for each pupil is $6,635 this year, and the E-rate for CenturyLink phone services is $9,828.83.

Season passes for Colfax athletic events will remain at the same price as last year with a student pass at $25 for the year, adult passes $72.00 and a family pass not to exceed $150. Seniors over age 62 will again be admitted for free. Passes can be purchased during home football and volleyball games as well as in the high school office.

An action plan was updated for the rest of the repair work that needs to be done as a result of the tornado damage.

“Most of the hold up has come from not being able to get the materials needed to do the jobs,” Yingst said. Some of the items that may not be completed by the time school starts are the metal roofing on two sheds and baseball dugouts, some school roofing, the elementary gym floor and some exterior lighting.

Grades 7-12 principal John Dachel reported all fall sports are in full swing with games and matches already starting and the Fall Festival to introduce the athletes and coaches would be held at the school August 20.

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde updated the summer reading program and said 72 students had taken quizzes over the summer. Reading teachers will begin testing students in grades 3-6 soon after the school year begins for reading class placement. The school will be working on adding the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) component this year. Several staff members will attend a conference later in the week for PBIS training.

Bus drivers will have two meetings to review bus routes, procedures, expectations and obligations related to safety of students. Elk Mound bus drivers will also be in attendance for the meetings presented by Paul Gasser.

Special Education Director Polly Rudi stated the district would begin a Special Education Self Assessment Process. Approximately 75 student files will be reviewed and parents of the students will be surveyed. Schools are on a five year cycle for the audit which will finish up in June.

Several staff members attended training workshops at CESA 11 in Turtle Lake for the ACT/Aspire and PALS programs which are used in the district.

NOTE: In the annual board meeting writeup August 6, it was mistakenly reported a new van was purchased at a cost of $50,000. Actual cost of the passenger van was just over $27,000