BOYCEVILLE — Bullying has long been an issue in schools across the country, drawing the concerns of parents and school officials alike.
To help combat bullying in its schools and take a more proactive approach in addressing the issue, the Boyceville Community School District conducted a survey of students in grades six through ten in late May and early June High School/Middle School Principal Steve Glocke reported to the school board at its monthly meeting held June 11 in the Tiffany Creek Elementary IMC.
An overwhelming majority – 235 students – in those grades completed and returned the survey according to Glocke.
“The majority of students feel safe at school,” Glocke told the board. “But there is a handful of students that stated it is a significant issue that has caused them to stay home from time-to-time.”
Glocke noted that along with looking at the data globally, the results have been broken down by gender to look for issues unique to specific groups of students.
“Males and females reported that the type of bullying they have encountered and witnessed are different,” added Glocke.
He said that males tended to experience a more physical form of bullying while the females reported that most of the bullying they have experienced (to them or others) was verbal, social and electronic (email, facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Glocke said the survey also showed a general shift from physical to more verbal and social forms of bullying as students become older. The survey, through the use of open-ended questions, also showed that students consistently referred to the amount of gossip and rumor that exists across all grade levels and is spread both verbally and via social media.
As for where the bullying most often occurs, results showed that it happened in less structured and less supervised areas, like the hallways and commons, and times such as lunch and between class periods. Students in elementary and middle school also stated that bullying on buses was an issue.
Some of the questions asked in the survey included: Do You feel safe at school?, Do you feel safe on your way to and from school?, How often have you stayed away from school to avoid being bullied?, In the past four months, have you ever been bullied or seen or heard another student being bullied by other students (bullying is defined as “a repeated or continuous physical, verbal or emotional act intended to cause harm)?, Where and how often does bullying occur (Never, Sometimes, Often, Always)?, Last time you were bullied or witnessed someone else being bullied, what did you do?, If you did tell an adult at school about being bullied or witnessing bullying did the bullying stop? And What could adults at school do to help prevent bullying?
Quantified results showed that when bullied, 39.1 percent stated they just ignored it, 24.7 percent said they stood up to the person bullying them, 26.4 percent told a parent while 23.8 percent confided in a friend about the bullying and 21.3 percent told the bully to stop. Results were similar when a student witnessed a bullying incident with a third reporting that they told the bully to stop, 24.3 percent said they stood up to the bully and 17.4 percent said that they ignored it or did nothing.
In both cases, only 15.3 percent of the student respondents reported a witnessed bullying incident to an adult at school and even less, 14.5 percent, told an adult at school when they themselves were bullied.
“How do we get the students to report the bullying and report it to an adult at school is an issue that we need to address,” Glocke told the board.
Glocke said when asked what adults at school could do to help prevent bullying, students had a number of responses including stricter punishments, mediation between the bullied and bully with a school counselor, provide more lessons on bullying and its effects, more visibility and vigilance by the staff and care for the students more so they feel they can trust the adults at school.
Superintendent Kevin Sipple told the board that the survey results were to be a part of the administrators’ retreat that was to be held the following day.
Principal Glocke presented the board with a review of the athletic department that had been prepared by athletic director Brian Roemhild.
Glocke told board members that new weight equipment had been purchased and installed and that the weight room is averaging between 40 to 60 kids daily in grades seven through twelve. He also noted that the middle school physical education teachers and administration are working to incorporate the “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” program into the curriculum two days a week as well as incorporating a lifting readiness program in fifth and sixth grades with the assistance of the elementary physical education teachers.
The report noted that there were 14 athletes that competed in baseball, 20 in softball and 27 in boys’ and girls’ track and field. It also listed a number of honors that spring sports athletes had achieved.
Numbers for the upcoming fall sports season were also forecast. High School football anticipates having around 20-25 athletes, volleyball 25-30, cross country between 10 to 15 and a baker’s dozen (13) for the dance team.
Glocke said Boyceville, like many other area schools, is having trouble attracting larger participation numbers especially for football.
“It is getting more difficult for student athletes to give up a month of summer vacation and jobs to come play sports,” said Glocke noting that practices begin in early August and school is not in session for another month.
Glocke announced that Boyceville will play host to a couple of WIAA events in 2016. The Division 3 Sectional Team Wrestling tournament will be held in the high school gym on Tuesday, February 14 and the Division 3 Regional Track and Field meet will be take place at Bulldogs’ home track on Monday, May 22.
Nick Kaiser, Principal at Tiffany Creek Elementary, told the board that summer school had begun earlier that day (July 11) with 31 students and would run through the end of July.
Kaiser was also pleased to inform the board on a new program headed by elementary physical education teachers Corey Day and Jacob Peterson called “Outdoor adventures”. The goal of the program is to build confidence and character in students in fifth through eighth grades especially those students that are at-risk. The first of the two-session course recently finished and had more than a dozen children participate in a variety of activities including canoeing.
Board members learned that Wisconsin has made some changes to its bus warning lights system. District Administrator Kevin Sipple told members that the 8-Light Warning System, which took effect May 1, and must be implemented for the 2016-17 school year.
Under the new system, when a bus driver approaches a stop and activates the warning lights, the lights will flash amber yellow. When the driver stops the bus and opens the door, a stop arm will extend and the lights will begin to flash red. New signage will also be added to the back of each bus that states, “Must Stop on Red Flashing Lights”
Sipple said that the old system with just red flashing lights had caused wide spread confusion among motorists as to when they should stop. The state legislature stepped in and created the new 8-light warning system to hopefully clarify when motorists need to stop.
To implement the new system, Sipple said that the district had to invest in new equipment and the time and labor to install it.
A new propane-fueling station has been completed in the district’s bus garage. Sipple acknowledged and thanked Cedar Country Cooperative and assistant general manager Kyle Knutson who oversaw the purchase and installation of the new unit. Currently, Boyceville has one propane-fueled bus but Sipple told the board that going forward the district’s bus plan would include the purchase of more propane buses.
Sipple also told the board that the district has contracted with a guest speaker this fall. Noting that it had been some time since an outside presenter had been brought in to speak, Sipple announced that Fabian Ramirez would address students in grades four through 12 on Tuesday, October 4. Ramirez’ presentation will focus on bullying and tolerance according to Sipple.
The board also:
• Hired Abbigail Dicks as a 4-year-old kindergarten teacher at Tiffany Creek Elementary. Principal Nick Kaiser noted that Dicks has worked as a part-time intervention and substitute teacher in the Boyceville district for the past three years. She replaces Becky Paulson.
• Hired Wendy Schultz Bird and Mary Sempf as the new coaches for the dance team. They will replace Anne Wold and Kayla Grosz.
• Approved a few changes in the 2016-16 adopted budget. $40,000 was moved from instructional staff services to business administration and $5,000 from central services was placed in other special needs all under the General Fund (Fund 10) for upgrades to the wireless network at the high school and middle school. In the Community Services Fund (Fund 80), $800 was transferred from general administration to business administration to cover extra costs for crossing guards.
• Approved new language in the 2016-17 Co-Curricular Code Book that now allows home-schooled students within the district to participate in school-sponsored co-curricular events which reflects a new state law.
• Adopted the 2016-17 Wisconsin Model Academic Standards, which according to Superintendent Sipple, was an effort on behalf of the state legislature to give a set of standards for each school district in the state.
• Accepted a donation of a metal detector, valued at $200, from Jerome Hoffman to be used by custodial and grounds staff in part to help locate metal markers on the football field and cross country course.
• Finally, no action was taken following the board’s closed session to discuss employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation data of any public employee over which the board had jurisdiction or exercises responsibility.