If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Board of Education has approved a safety plan that is one of the requirements for receiving nearly $92,000 in school safety grants from the state Department of Justice.
The Colfax school district has been using a safety plan and has been an active participant in the Dunn County Safe Schools Committee for many years, said William C. Yingst Jr., district administrator, at the Colfax school board’s December 17 meeting.
The safety plan is “a solid plan,” and submitting it electronically in a certain format is just one of the “strings attached” to the school safety grants, he said, noting the safety plan cannot be sent through the mail but must be submitted electronically.
The plan is due by December 31.
Earlier this year, the state of Wisconsin approved using $100 million of general purpose revenue to administer as grants for enhancing school safety available through the new Office of School Safety in the Department of Justice.
The Office of School Safety and the grant money were in response to a shooting at a Florida high school February 14 in which 17 people were killed.
The Dunn County Safe Schools Committee includes law enforcement officers from municipal and city police departments, district administrators from the school districts in the county, representatives from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, emergency medical staff and the state patrol, Yingst said.
Finishing the plan for submission to the state “will be my main focus for the rest of the week,” he said, adding he has already “put lots of time” into the plan, that he anticipates putting more time into the plan and that the template for the safety plan is 79 pages.
Before the plan can be submitted to the Department of Justice, the Board of Education must approve the plan, Yingst said.
Parts of the plan are not publicly available to maintain public safety and student safety, he said.
The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department and Colfax Police Chief William Anderson have already signed off on the plan, Yingst said.
The safety plan includes emergency lockdown procedures, non-emergency lockdown procedures, and “serious lockdown” procedures that use a special code word, he said.
The special code word is not used during safety drills so when the special code word is used, school staff know it is a serious incident and not a drill, Yingst said.
The school safety plan empowers every adult in the school buildings to get students to a safe place either inside or outside the building, he said.
In addition to teachers and administrators, “every adult” includes custodians, secretaries and teachers’ aides, Yingst said.
“We take it very seriously,” he said, noting that he has been a member of the Dunn County Safe Schools Committee since he began working as the Colfax district administrator eight years ago.
The exterior doors with key fob access have enhanced the safety of the school buildings by also allowing the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, the Colfax Police Department and the Colfax Rescue Squad to have access to the buildings, Yingst said.
The Colfax Board of Education unanimously approved the school safety plan.
Ken Neuburg, the Colfax school board’s voting delegate at the Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ convention in January reported that 22 resolutions have been forwarded to the delegate assembly and that seven or eight of them will directly impact Colfax.
Resolution No. 13 is an amendment to the tobacco free policy to add “vaping” products and devices, he said.
Resolution No. 7 is related to special education programs and reimbursement rates. State aid for special education was increased last in 2008, Neuburg said.
Initially, reimbursement for special education programs was at 60 percent, but the state now reimburses special education at 33 percent, he said, adding that state aid for special education is likely to drop below 25 percent in 2019-2020.
The resolution is asking that 60 percent of the prior year’s eligible special education cost be reimbursed, Neuburg said.
Resolution No. 9 asks that the state provide funding for ongoing assessment, intervention and remediation for students who have reached third grade but do not read a third grade level, he said.
Resolution No. 12 asks for Indigenous People’s Day to become protocol for public school observance, Neuburg said.
In other business, the Colfax Board of Education:
• Learned Colfax is fifth from the bottom among 39 school districts in western Wisconsin with a mill rate of $7.99 per $1,000 of property value. The school district with the highest mill rate is Elmwood at $14.99 per $1,000 of property value. Glenwood City, Boyceville and Elk Mound also are on the lower half of the list. Glenwood City’s mill rate is $9.76. Boyceville’s mill rate is $9.02. And Elk Mound’s mill rate is $8.26.
• Learned Yingst has been asked to be on the UW-Stout Advisory Board for Masters of Science Degrees.
• Learned the state Department of Public Instruction has determined the Colfax school district has met the requirements for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). “Meets requirements” is a score of at least 80 percent. “Needs assistance” is a score of at least 60 percent but below 80 percent. “Needs intervention” is a score of less than 60 percent. “Needs substantial intervention” indicates a failure to comply with any condition of eligibility.
• Accepted a gift of $5,000 from the Sanger Foundation to the School District of Colfax. The money will be added to the student assistance fund. The mother of the foundation’s founder was a resident at Area Nursing Home/Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center, and the annual donation to the school district is a way of expressing appreciation for the care received, Yingst said.
• Received for a first reading policy updates from Neola (formerly known as North East Ohio Learning Associates) regarding safety standards; staff use of personal communication devices; computer technology network and Internet acceptable use and safety; district web page; letters of reference; and relations with parents.
The Colfax Board of Education meets next on January 21 at 7 p.m.