Colfax school board approves $2.62 million school levy, will begin using new security system

by Marlys Kruger

During the monthly board meeting held October 27, the Colfax Board of Education  approved a total property tax levy of $2,622,166 for the 2014-2015 school year.  The board approved levying $179,659 for Non-Referendum Approved (Energy Efficiency Performance Contracting) Debt Service and $2,442,597 for the 2014-2015 budget with the change in state law, levy the difference between the amount equaling the maximum revenue limit allowed, less all allowed state general aids, whichever is less. Equalized value of taxable property is $312,427,969 as of  Jan. 1 while equalized value was 306.3 million in 2013.The mill rate for this year is $8.48 per $1,000 of property value which is down from $8.64 last year.

The new security system will go into effect in the next week or two with the main doors to the high school and elementary schools becoming locked after 8:10 a.m. through approximately 3:00. (All other doors are already locked during that time). Anyone wishing to enter the school will have to push a buzzer, look into a camera and state their name and reason for the visit before the door is opened by a staff member. Most schools around the area have been using this system already to help keep the school a safer place, according to District Administrator Bill Yingst.

New staff members introduced themselves to the board including Kristy Anderson, Matt DeMoe, Mike Dombrowski, Nancy Hovde, Melissa Nehm, Brad Hostak, Kelly Haskemp, Jenni Mohr, and Denise Buchholz.

Open enrollment numbers show 67 students have chosen to come into the district while 56 are enrolled outside of the district. During the first Friday in September pupil count, the district has 34 students less than last year, with all but two grade levels showing a decrease in numbers.

“Our society has become very transient and there are a lot of families who move around a lot,” Yingst said. “One of the biggest problems I have heard is there is not a lot of  subsidized housing for larger families in this area and that makes it harder to keep them in the district,” he said.

The board approved allowing three students to take classes through the Youth Options Program for the spring semester and also hiring a couple of coaches to the athletic program. Middle school teacher Tim Devine expressed his interest in the middle school track position this spring after serving as an assistant softball coach at the varsity level last year. Devine stated if he was not approved for track, he would take the varsity softball job. At this point,it appears he will be watching kids throw the shot put and discus as opposed to a softball from the outfield to home plate since the board approved him for the track job.

Jordan Poirier of Bloomer, the son of head wrestling coach Jim Poirier for the Bloomer-Colfax co-op team, was approved as an assistant coach for the team and will drive the Colfax wrestlers to and from Bloomer for practice every night. Nobody from the Colfax area applied for the job and Poirier has experience in wrestling and working with kids so this should work out well, according to Yingst.

Administrators’ reports

Grade 7-12 principal John Dachel congratulated Pam Meredith and the volleyball team on winning a conference and regional championship, Mark Maloney and the football team for getting into the playoffs and Joe Doucette and the cross country team for a great season with Abbagail Schotter qualifying for the state meet.

Seven members of the FFA attended the National Convention in Louisville, KY last week, and three FFA members placed eighth out of 138 teams in the Dairy Cattle Evaluation Contest at the World Dairy Expo in Madison. Brielle Bjork led the Colfax team placing 11th out of 417 individuals.

Spanish IV students attended UW-Eau Claire Spanish classrooms Oct. 17  and were able to see how the college level Spanish course functions and have the professor answer questions. Middle School Solo/Ensemble will take place Nov. 5 at Colfax and there will be a Veteran’s Day program Tuesday, Nov. 11 in the high school gym at 10:00.

Basketball season is just around the corner with the varsity girls starting practice Nov. 10 and the boys starting Nov. 17.

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde announced the school had reached the first school wide completion goal of the Viking ship for the Positive Behavior Intervention Supports program and were rewarded with a tailgate party Oct. 24. He also updated the Accelerated Reading, DIBELS, PALS and Reading Mastery programs for grades K-6. The school took part in Fire Prevention activities last month as well as practiced a fire drill with members of the Colfax Fire Department, and learned about school bus safety while practicing a bus evacuation.

Elementary students along with high school teacher Mrs. Neuburg and her students are busy making apple pies to be distributed to veterans during the Veteran’s Day program coming up.

District Special Education/Curriculum Coordinator Polly Rudi stated there were several tests being completed throughout the school including the ACT Aspire test for 10th graders, WKCE for grades 4-8-10 in social studies and science and PALS testing in the elementary school. ACCESS testing for the six English Language Learners will begin Dec. 1.Special Education teachers and Para Educators attended a non-Violent Crisis Intervention Training Oct 10 and Rudi, Ashley Kley and Peggy Larson attended  a training on Student Based Services-Medicaid billing on Oct. 9.

District Report Cards

Rudi presented the Department of Public Instruction Report Card for the Colfax District which shows 70.4 % of the students in the district are in the Meet Expectations category overall. (There are five levels in the scoring system including Significantly Exceeds Expectations, Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations, Meets Few Expectations and Fails to Meet Expectations).The Student Achievement score is 65.8 compared to the statewide score of 66.4 and for On-Track and Post-Secondary readiness, district students are at 86.2, which is above the statewide score of 85.3.

At the elementary level, 71% of the Colfax students are in the higher end of the Meets Expectations level and have a score 64.2 in Student Achievement compared to  a state average of 66.8 and at the high school level, 67.4 are in the Meets Expectations category. The Student Achievement score is 67.9 with the state average of 67.7.

Complete details can be seen on the DPI website.