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Colfax school board conducts final meeting of 2015

by Marlys Kruger

COLFAX — With a little old business and a lot of new business on the agenda, members of the Colfax school board were busy when they held their monthly meeting December 21 in the high school library.

Presented during the old business was a list of tax levies and mill rates for the 39 schools in the CESA 11 district, showing Colfax has the third lowest mill rate at 8.67. The district with the lowest mill rate is Birchwood at 5.99 which has a lot of lake property and the highest is Elmwood at 15.22.

Open enrollment dates for Wisconsin Public Schools run from Feb. 1-April 29 but the time frame tends to extend beyond this date.

“These dates are certainly not set in stone,” district administrator Bill Yingst said. “The DPI will allow students to open enroll in another district during the summer months if they think there is a good reason for it,” he added.

During new business, the board discussed, then approved using the Federal Breakfast Program for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year. The cost for breakfast will remain at $1.00 until the end of the first semester Jan. 22, and due to the fact it costs the school from .85 cents to $1.45 per day to serve breakfast, the cost will go up to $1.25 for students after January 22.

Accepting a $19,000 grant for a distance learning lab was approved which will allow students and staff to tie into colleges, universities and technical schools and take classes online and give staff the opportunity to teach classes online to other high schools. A room at the high school would be set aside for the lab and individual students would be able to work on different subject areas all at the same time.

The second reading of the school district wellness program was approved and staff member Brianne Link was approved to be the adviser for the school play this spring which will be a musical. Link has plenty of experience, having been the adviser the last few years.

A timeline for the long range planning survey was discussed and the survey should be sent out to taxpayers in the district by mid February with hopes of getting results compiled by the March meeting.

Two new kitchen workers were hired including Krista DeMoe and Lynn Lauffer. Both have been substituting in the food service area and will work three hours a day.

The longest discussion of the evening concerned open enrollment changes for students with or without disabilities. The board decided to accept using the DPI guidelines which most of the schools in the area are already using with a caseload formula for special education students. There would be a cap on the number of students in a class which would help determine if a student who open enrolls would be accepted.

The energy efficiency resolution was approved which shows the district will pay $179,569 for each of the next seven years. The project which includes HVAC and infrastructure improvement, lighting upgrades and building shell improvements began in 2013 and will be completed in 2023.

Administrators’ reports 

Things are pretty quiet heading into the break according to grades 7-12 principal John Dachel. The girls have two varsity basketball games Dec.29 and 29 at UW-Stout and the boys do not play until after the break. Dachel congratulated the Science Olympiad team which competed in Boyceville Dec. 5 and will compete at UW-River Falls Jan. 23, and the dance team for their excellent showing at the Menomonie Classic. He also thanked FBLA members who helped decorate at Colfax Health and Rehab, the Spanish students for caroling around the Colfax area and student council members for helping with the Red Cross blood drive. Dachel presented a long list of all school events coming up throughout January.

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde updated the board on reading programs and the Dibels and Pals testing students will be taking in January. The National Geography Bee will take place at the school Jan. 7 for grades 4-8 and Adult School Crossing Guard Recognition Week will be Jan. 11-15 and Hovde will take Wendy Lausted’s place for a morning.

Special Education Director Polly Rudi explained some DPI changes required for open enrollment students with disabilities. Districts will no longer be preparing cost estimates or billing resident school districts related to special education open enrollment applications. A flat transfer amount of $12,000 will be enacted in the 2016-2017 school year regardless of actual special education costs. Also, a district may no longer deny a pupil’s open enrollment due to undue financial burden. An application may only be denied if there is no space in the special education or related services required in the student’s IEP or if the special education or related services are not available.