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GLENWOOD CITY — As with many of its meetings, the Glenwood City Board of Education spent a majority of its regular monthly meeting held in the commons Monday evening, July 13 listening to reports from its administrative team and asking questions.
A myriad of subjects were discussed during the two-hour session including the reopening of Hilltopper Hangtime, the district’s childcare service, technology updates for distance learning, handbook revisions for the elementary, middle and high schools along with athlete and co-curricular updates, new open gym protocols dealing with COVID-19, a curricular update for English Language Arts (ELA).
The board also approved the hiring some new support staff.
Middle school/high school principal, Patrick Gretzlock, covered several items during his presentation to board members.
Gretzlock said that open gym for volleyball, football and boys’ and girls’ basketball had begun last week and that participation was following best practices for COVID-19. He said that all students wishing to participate in the open gym session must register online weekly and be approved prior to attending. Online registration for the following week’s sessions open up at noon on Monday’s until 10 am the following Monday.
The open gym sessions are being held Monday through Thursday with each sport taking a day. Mondays are reserved for volleyball, football is held on held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays are reserved for girls’ basketball and the boys’ basketball open gym is held on Thursday.
After the first week, Gretzlock said 11 student athletes participated in the volleyball open gym, 23 for football, nine for girls’ basketball and 13 for boys’ basketball. He is anticipating an increased number of participants over the next few weeks. Gretzlock did note that there are, however, caps on the maximum number that can partake each day – 15 for volleyball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, and 35 for football (which is spread out over several hours).
Although there is a level of uncertainty, Gretzlock said this is proceeding as if there will be a fall sports season, saying that it is better to plan for one than not. He said he is working with and following the St. Croix County guidelines for COVID-19 and continually assessing the level of risk.
Turning to an ongoing academic issue, Gretzlock, for the second meeting in a row, spoke about the number of fourth quarter incompletes. Last month, Gretzlock informed board members that there were 179 incompletes involving 58 students in the final quarter of the 2019-2020 year. While some of those have been remedied, there are still 112 incompletes, according to the principal.
“There is still a significant number of students with multiple incompletes,” Gretzlock explained to the board.
He noted that while the number of students with incompletes had dropped by 25, the remaining 33 students accounted for all of the 112 incompletes.
In the middle school, 46 of the original 55 incompletes are still outstanding with only four of the 24 students having satisfactorily made up their incompletes.
A proposed update to the middle school and high school ELA curriculum is underway according to Gretzlock. English instructor David Popko has been participating in a DPI program to provide high quality materials for the English Language Arts. Gretzlock said the idea is to move away from one-size fits all textbooks to a group of core reading books and supplemental titles for each grade level from sixth to 12th grades to better develop group and individual reading, writing and critical listening skills. The proposed update would be highlighted by the purchase of some $35,000 in identified core reading books, supplemental books and enrichment materials.
Nicole Brite, direct of Pupil Services and Special Education, told the board of the successful reopening of Hilltopper Hangtime on July 6.
Brite noted that about 25 families had attended the two-day registration sessions held July 1 and 2 and that the program had about 18 to 25 children per day during the first week. She said they anticipated the attendance increase to around 40 children per day once STARS and summer school begin.
“It has been super successful,” said Brite of the Hangtime’s reopening. “It was fantastic to have the kids back.”
Brite said protocols to deal with COVID-19 and any related health issues or illnesses were put into place prior to the reopening. She stated that small group social distancing is also a standard practice with the Tiny Toddlers, which are pre-kindergarten to five-year-old children along with five slightly older girls are in one room while a group of 5 to 13-year-old boys do activities in another room.
Brite also noted that it is a closed campus with no off-grounds field trips and that parents are not allowed in the building. Children are greeted outside at the time of drop-off and escorted into the school building and brought out to their parents’ vehicles for pick-up – a policy that will also be in effect during the regular school year.
The board also approved the hiring of Becca Peterson and Erin Davis, both former GC graduates, as seasonal employees with the Hangtime program.
The TOPS weightlifting program is also underway. Brite reported that 67 students signed for the program, including 25 girls. There are four sessions offered, two in the mornings and two in the afternoons.
Glenwood City Elementary principal Betsy Haltinner told the board that the district continues to work on equipment updates for distance learning. To that end, she told members that a new-style of white board – Clever Touch – would be demonstrated on Thursday. The equipment is similar to the Promethean Boards the district currently uses but are approximately half the price.
Haltinner also read through several updates to the elementary student handbook. Two of the most noteworthy dealt with COVID-19 and insurance coverage.
Added to the handbook was provision that reads, “Parents and guardians will not be able to enter the school during arrival and dismissal. Students should meet parents at the care in the drop off/pick up lane in front of the school or in the lower parking lot.”
The other is the elimination of the district’s student insurance coverage meaning families will need to use their own medical insurance in the event of an injury that occurs at school.
In his presentation to the board, District Administrator Tim Johnson said that the district would begin working on its reentry plan the following day. He said that 15 staff members, from a variety of departments, would be coming to the school on July 14 to have a dialog on how things would work, taking into account guidelines for COVID-19, when school reopens next month.
Johnson also broached the issue of employee leave consideration in light of the coronavirus. The district currently offers medical leave, unpaid leave, PTO (Paid Time Off) at 10 days per year and sick leave which employees can bank up to 90 days. In addition, the district also deals with FMLA at both the federal and state levels and a new addition, FFCRA that is specific to issues dealing with the Coronavirus.
Johnson also noted that the board will need to deal soon with health insurance rates and staffing pay increases. He is proposing a 2 percent increase for teaching staff with consideration to years of experience, a 2.8 percent increase for hourly staff and 2 percent for salaried staff and bus drivers.
The district is still in search of a school psychologist. In past years, the district has contracted with CESA for that service in previous years, but Johnson was recently informed by CESA that it has been unable to secure a candidate and will not be able to provide that service to Glenwood City at this time. Johnson said they are currently exploring option including an online service.
In one final note, last month the school board approved the 2020-2021 school calendar. Students will return on Tuesday, August 25 although, due to DPI regulation, the official first day of school is listed as September 1.
The school board will hold a brief session on August 3 before adjourning for its annual retreat. The budget hearing and annual meeting will be held on Monday, August 17. The budget hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with the annual meeting to follow at 7:00 pm.
In other matters, the school board approved:
• The resignation of Dean Fayerweather as the girls’ head basketball coach and assistant baseball coach.
• The hiring of Samantha Schreiber for the high school/middle school and elementary administrative assistance position.
• A donation of $1,099 for the purchase of a Hudl Package (video and stats database) from the Glenwood City Football Boosters Club.
• The 2020-2021 shared contract for occupational therapy with Baldwin-Woodville. Hannah Kiefer has been hired to fill the 80 percent job and will send half her time working in the Glenwood City School District and the other half at Baldwin-Woodville.
• Slight revisions to the Athlete and Co-Curricular handbook.
• The hiring of Justin Swenby as a volunteer football coach