By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — Mound View Elementary has 53 new students this fall, and Elk Mound High School has 345 students all together, the largest number in the high school’s history.
Eric Hanson, Mound View principal, and Paul Weber, high school principal, reported on enrollment at the Elk Mound Board of Education’s August 31 meeting.
A total of 53 new students registered at Mound View this summer, and “I think that is a record,” Hanson said.
A certain number of the new students in the school district are open enrollment students, noted Dr. Ron Walsh, district administrator.
Kyle Jenson, school board member, wondered whether Mound View Elementary has enough space for all of the students.
The classrooms are full, but the school could “double up” on certain rooms, such as special education, so that more regular classroom sections could be added if necessary, Hanson said.
Mound View could add two or three more sections if needed, he said, adding that the remodeling project several years ago had upgraded the building to accommodate four sections for every class.
Mound View’s fourth grade class currently has five sections, Hanson said.
Elk Mound High School also has added more students, several of which are open enrollment students, Weber said.
The new school year will start with 345 students in the high school, he said.
Weber pointed out that when he started working in the school district in 2004, the high school had 280 students.
Several school board members said they recalled when graduating classes at Elk Mound had around 50 students.
Many of the smaller, rural school districts in the state are experiencing declining enrollment.
Elk Mound is one of the few school districts with an increasing enrollment.
Student handbooks at Elk Mound have now added electronic cigarettes as unacceptable items for students to bring to school.
New rules at Mound View Elementary will allow students to have trading cards but e-cigarettes have been added to the list of items that are not acceptable, Hanson said.
The middle school and high school handbooks also have added e-cigarettes and “vapor” paraphernalia, said Eric Wright, principal at Elk Mound Middle School.
E-cigarettes, instead of burning tobacco, put nicotine into a vapor that is inhaled. Public health officials say they are concerned that the companies manufacturing e-cigs are marketing to children because the aerosols come in different flavors, such as bubblegum or different kinds of fruit.
Some models of e-cigs create large clouds of vapor.
Weber said last spring, someone came into the high school and said he or she thought there was a car on fire out in the parking lot.
When Weber went out to investigate, he discovered students were using e-cigs in the car, also known as “vaping,” and were generating large clouds of vapor rolling out of the windows, making the vehicle look as if the interior were on fire.
Other changes to the student handbooks were described as minor, such as changing the lunch prices and adding language to describe current practice, such students who walk home gathering at the Mound View flagpole at the end of the school day, and then accompanied by an adult, walk the sidewalk to reach University Street and then cross the street together.
The Board of Education unanimously approved all of the changes to the handbooks.
Juniors at Elk Mound High School had an average composite score of 22.5 on the American College Testing (ACT) college readiness assessment this past spring, compared to a state-wide composite of 22.2, Weber said.
The graduating class of 2015 had an average composite score of 23.7, he said.
Wisconsin ranked second in the nation on ACT scores, Weber noted.
The composite scores will go down next year because all students will be required to take the test, he said.
“(Wisconsin) will not be number two in the nation. We will drop,” Weber said.
In the past, only students who were planning to go to college took the ACT or the SAT (Student Achievement Testing) college readiness assessment.
When the ACT scores drop, “the talking points will be interesting,” said Tim Sivertson, president of the Board of Education.
Most schools will probably be in the low 20s when all of the students are taking the ACT, Weber said.
In other business, the Elk Mound Board of Education:
• Approved building goals for the elementary school, middle school and high school that focused on 85 percent of the students meeting the benchmarks in reading and math by the end of the school year for each grade.
• Approved withdrawing from the Local Government Property Insurance Fund effective September 1. The bid this year was $45,692, compared to last year’s rate of $24,639.
• Approved bids totaling $92,589 from Indianhead Agency for workers’ compensation, commercial liability, commercial vehicle, umbrella, and property, and $3,053 for cyber liability for a total of $95,642.
• Approved a notice of the student academic standards for the 2015-2016 school year per state statute 120.12(13)(b) and 118.30(1g)(a).
• Approved a motion to direct administration to provide parents and guardians of district students with the notice of the school-board adopted student academic standards in effect for the 2015-2016 school year.
• Approved a part-time aide position to help with noon hour supervision, coverage for secretaries, and two days of early childhood assistance and transportation. The position is Medicaid reimbursable, which is is expected to cover most of the cost for this position.
• Accepted the resignation of Jen Davis, who was filling a part-time support staff position.
Following a closed session of the Board of Education, the Elk Mound school board approved hiring Becky Johnson to fill the part-time aide position approved by the school board during open session.