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GLENWOOD CITY — A planned half-hour regular session, prior to its annual retreat, grew three times longer when the Glenwood City Board of Education met Monday, August 3 in the commons area.
A long, itemized agenda of personnel matters, curriculum and technology purchases, transportation updates and pay increases led to in-depth explanations and subsequent discussions between the administration team and board members which caused the open meeting portion to run for more than an hour and a half.
The board then adjourned to executive session briefly to discuss the hiring of an elementary teacher before reconvening in open session to hold its retreat.
The board of education gave its approval to more than a dozen staffing and coaching changes during the consent agenda portion of the meeting.
After board president Dr. Lisa Kaiser had read through the laundry list of items on the agenda, member Steve Davis voiced some concerns about hiring Olivia Scalze as the C-squad volleyball coach.
Davis told the board that she, Scalze, had recently graduated with two of his children and that he felt, at 19 years of age, she might be too young and inexperienced for the position. He also questioned her commitment to the program telling other members that she had left the program midway through her senior season year.
Patrick Gretzlock, high school/middle school principal and athletic director, told Davis and other board members that he and Nicole Brite had vetted Scalze through a rigorous interview process and that she had performed well and felt confident she would make a great addition to a staff that is trying to rebuild a program that has not had a winning season since 1984. Gretzlock added that Scalze, who was just one of three candidates to apply for the three volleyball coaching vacancies (junior varsity, C-squad and 8th grade), would be under the direct supervision of head coach Nicole Miller and that the C-squad coaching position would offer Scalze an opportunity to gain coaching experience and knowledge.
More discussion ensued with most of the six present board members giving their views.
In the end, the board voted 5-1, with Davis dissenting, to approve Olivia Scalze for the C-squad coaching position.
In a related matter, the hiring of Chelsey Strenke as the junior varsity volleyball coach and Bridget Oehlke as a volunteer coach were unanimously approved.
Gretzlock stated that the 8th grade volleyball coaching position remains open as he has not heard back from the candidate that was offered the job.
In other coaching matters, Carly Kittilson’s resignation as junior varsity girls’ basketball coach was approved so that she could be appointed as the new girls’ head coach replacing Dean Fayerweather. A posting has been made to search for a new JV coach. Sarah Nichols and Will Rosenow were approved as volunteer coaches for cross country.
Following the executive session, the board reconvene in open session to announce the hiring of Kelsie Ashleson as the new kindergarten teacher replacing Beth Langreck, whose resignation the board approved. Ashleson recently moved to Downing, along with her husband Kevin Ashleson who is a Glenwood City graduate.
The board also gave its stamp of approval to hire David Popko as the National Honor Society advisor, Jake Score as the 8th Grade advisor and recent UW-River Falls grad Jamie Dary as a substitute teacher.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the administration team to look at the busing routes over the past couple of meeting.
During this past Monday’s meeting, after much discussion, the board of education approved updated bus routes.
Patrick Gretzlock explained that after observations these past few years it was noted that there were some duplication of routes occurring. So, when a bus driver recently retired, the administration took the opportunity to consolidate that driver’s route with a few others and eliminate it, leaving the district with a total of seven busing routes.
To following social distancing guidelines, Gretzlock said that they had come up with a new plan. Gretzlock noted that in past years, buses would pick up students at the corners of 3rd and Maple, 3rd and Oak, 5th and Maple, 5th and Oak and on Magnolia Drive. Under the new plan, bus stops at 3rd and Maple and 3rd and Oak will be eliminated with morning pick-ups made by three separate buses at 5th and Maple, 5th and Oak and Magnolia. These three buses, however, will make the pick-ups after they have delivered their out-of-town students and been disinfected.
The rub, however, comes after school is done for the day. Gretzlock said that those student in grades 6-12 and that live on Magnolia Drive, Morning Glory Circle, Pine, Maple and Oak Streets will either have to walk home or secure independent transportation.
He acknowledged that this could become an issue especially when it gets darker earlier and colder. Gretzlock said it was not feasible to have several hundred students waiting at the school for the buses to return after dropping in-town students off following the end of the school day.
The board approved the spending of $39,896 for a new math intervention program and its English Language Arts curriculum.
The purchase of the Math 180, the math intervention program, cost $23,681.09 for three years and is a tier 2 system that will serve up to 20 students in the 7th and 8th grades that are at least two grade levels behind in math according to Gretzlock.
He told board members that priority will be given to 8th grade students in order to build their math skills as they transition into high school.
Gretzlock stated that the program will be taught by Matthew Schutz.
“We do not have a math intervention program,” said Gretzlock, who also noted that student will only be able to exit the program after they have reached their grade-level, either at the end of the first semester or school year.
Math 180 is a sister program to Read 180 which the board also approved to renew for five years for a price tag of $3,120 with Gretzlock telling members that the initial upfront costs are high. But he said the results of Read 180 have been promising and hope to see the similar results with Math 180. But keeping the programs in place for more than a year or two are key to see student improvement.
In addition, an agreement with Newsela for $13,095 will enhance the ELA curriculum, making hundreds if not thousands of more supplemental and core reading texts available to students.
Following the proposal and recommendation of Elementary Principal and technology coordinator Betsy Haltinner, the board approved the purchase of 32 Huddly IQ Conferencing Cameras with an additional purchase of ten, 10-meter cables to aid in distance learning for a price of $25,482.5; a pair of 75” and one 65”, 4K Clovertouch IMPACT series flat panel TVs (with three year warranties), two large fusion micro-adjustable fixed wall display mounts, a rover base for interactive flat panels and 15 HP EliteDesk 800 GI desktop PCs for a total of $2,850.
The district annual meeting and budget hearing is slated for Monday, August 17. Notices of the meetings and proposed budget can be found in the next two issues of the Tribune Press Reporter. All district residents are encouraged to attend and participate. The budget hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. that evening with the annual meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.
In other business, the board approved:
• Increasing the substitute teacher pay rate to $120 for a full day and $60 for a half day.
• Increasing substitute support staff pay to $12 per hour (currently at $10).
• Increasing student work pay to $9 an hour based on experience and merit. Starting wage of $8 will remain unchanged.
• A two percent across the board wage increase for bus drivers and other salaried staff members for the 2020-21 year.
• A seven percent pay rated for the fall cheer coaching position.