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EM school board approves prioritized spending list

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Board of Education has approved spending funds throughout the 2014-2015 school year as money becomes available on a prioritized list of items recommended by the board’s long-range planning committee.

The school board approved the list at the November 17 meeting that includes 340 new Chromebook laptop computers and improved wireless access in all three school buildings in Elk Mound that will cost an estimated $187,000.

This is the tenth year that the Elk Mound school board has used the prioritized long-range planning list, noted Dr. Ron Walsh, district administrator.

Over the past ten years, the list has included $7 million in items, and to date, $4.8 million worth of items have been completed, he said.

The school district spends about $500,000 every year on the long-range planning list of prioritized items, Dr. Walsh said.

Completing items on the list over the years “keeps the buildings and the instruction vibrant,” he said.

Mandatory standardized testing must soon be completed using computers and the Internet.

The Chromebooks for all three schools would cost $126,000, and the improved wireless access would cost about $61,000.

Standardized tests given to students online using Internet access will completely replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE) this spring.

In addition to testing, the Chromebooks will be used by students in other ways. It will not be a matter of pulling the Chromebooks out of the box and saying, “figure it out,” Dr. Walsh said.

One example is Google Docs, which allows students to work collaboratively on a project and allows all students to work on editing a document at the same time, said Eric Wright, principal at Elk Mound Middle School.

In addition to approving the list of items, the Elk Mound Board of Education authorized the administration to spend money for the items as funds become available throughout the school year.

“We closely monitor (the school district’s accounts) weekly for available funds,” Dr. Walsh said.

“Sometimes it’s a good time to buy something, or we find a good price, and that will move an item up on the list,” he noted.

“(Developing a prioritized list) is one of the best things we’ve ever done,” said Tim Sivertson, president of the Board of Education.

Long-range planning and a prioritized list of items has helped Elk Mound to avoid holding any referendums to exceed the revenue limit for operational costs, said Kyle Jenson, vice-president of the Board of Education.

Other items on the list include installing elementary school security cameras at an estimated cost of $7,500;  purchasing iPads for elementary staff at an estimated cost of $10,000; replacing the 26-year-old middle school bleachers at an estimated cost of $35,000; purchasing high school computer software for an estimated cost of $24,000; refinishing the high school gym floor at an estimated cost of $22,000; and high school track maintenance at an estimated cost of $10,000.

Other business

In other business, the Elk Mound Board of Education:

• Accepted the resignation of Angie Krumenauer, a high school and middle school library aide. Krumenauer has worked in the Elk Mound school district for 15 years and has accepted a job in New Richmond. She lives in Roberts.

• Accepted the resignation of Donna Weix as the head high school volleyball coach. Weix has coached volleyball for 25 years.

• Postponed a closed session until the December meeting to hire a special education aide.