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 Cara L. Dempski
ELK MOUND – The Board of Education for Elk Mound approved making masks optional for students and staff during its April 26 meeting.
Prior to the start of the regular meeting, the Board held a short reorganizational meeting. Tim Sivertsen was elected Board president, Kyle Jenson was reelected as Board VP, and Patrick Rhude was elected once again as Board clerk. Secretary Mary Strand was rehired to remain in her position.
While updating the district’s COVID-19 response was already on the agenda for the evening making face coverings optional seemed especially timely considering a group of district residents in attendance for the citizens forum, during which Shannon Todd spoke in favor of removing a masking requirement for students. Derrick van Orden, a conservative candidate for Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, was also present at the meeting and added his voice to the support for removing a mask requirement.
Todd received support from Board Vice President Kyle Jenson who indicated he has done research and stated in the meeting that his job is heavily based in analyzing data. He further indicated the data he has searched regarding the virus does not indicate masks help mitigate the spread. The move is tempered by WIAA requirements for masks during sporting events, and federal transportation guidelines, meaning bus drivers and riders will still need to have face coverings or masks while on the bus.
Board member Mark Oas pointed out that masking in the school district seems to have kept the virus from having a dramatic impact on keeping district buildings open and students in classes. He also noted the district has an obligation to keep both students and staff safe. District nurse Tammy Schleiwitz spoke in favor of maintaining masking requirements citing the district’s success in keeping staff and students healthy.
Todd’s argument in removing the mask requirement hinged on allowing parents the choice they saw fit for their own children.
After the Citizens Forum closed, building administrators Eric Hanson, Chris Hahn, and Paul Kling gave brief reports on activities in their buildings.
Hanson reported students at Moundview elementary participated in Tornado Awareness Day on April 15, by participating in a statewide tornado drill and taking home safety tips for their families. Students have also taken the Wisconsin Forward Exam, and plan to celebrate Reading Week by celebrating reading surrounding the theme “Celebrate Your Story Week.” There will be special dress-up days each day and some special guests during lunch; students will be visited virtually by guest author Yangsook Choi. There will be book drawings door decoration competitions, and other activities to go along with Choi’s book titled the Name Jar.
Other upcoming events include Animals on the Lawn, scheduled for May 6; and a virtual presentation for Grandparents’ Day on May 20.
Next, Hahn reported on events at the Middle School. He noted the Archery Club completed its season, and offered appreciation to coach Wendy Erdman; said the school participated in tornado awareness during April, and shared Forward testing is completed, and more students opted out than usual this year. He also reported that the Middle School track season started April 6.
Currently, he reports the Art Club is seeing great attendance. MAP testing was scheduled to start April 27. Fourth-grade students will be attending fifth-grade orientation in early May, and May 27 is currently scheduled for eighth-grade graduation which will be held at 7 P.m. at the high school.
Kling reported spring sports and activities are underway at the high school, though the weather has created some challenges for the season. He says coaches and athletes are excited for the opportunity to compete this spring. He also said the FBLA participated in the Junior Achievement Business Challenge on April 13 through a virtual competition. The ACT Aspire exam was completed April 21, sophomores and freshmen are required to take this exam. He noted sophomores also took the Forward Exam that day. Parent-Teacher conferences will be held April 29 from 3:30 to 7:30 P.m.. He indicated the high school will also have Animals on the Lawn on May 6. On May 9, a Baccalaureate service will be held at 7:30 P.m. in the high school parking lot. Honors Night will be held May 12 at 7 P.m. in the high school gym, and graduation is May 14 at 8 P.m. in the high school gym, with the senior After-Graduation party starting at 10:30 p.m. at Action City.
The Board moved on to approving the next item of business, which was approving the retirement of paraprofessionals Ellen Noe and Carmen Benson. District Administrator Eric Wright recommended the Board accept both retirements. The Board unanimously approved the retirement of both women.
The Board next approved the resignation of Madeline Russell, who found another position closer to her hometown. This concluded the business items under the open-meeting portion of the agenda.
The Board adjourned to closed session where it approved individual teacher contracts, and approved promotions for those eligible.
The District will see some new staff next year after the Board approved hiring school psychologist Kristen Cowell, special education teachers Kayla Ewart and Meghan Weix, elementary teachers Kennedy Rusk and Hannah Brunner, and speech and Language Pathologist Sara Reiter. The Board also approved leave requests for Stephanie Hay and Dennis Arneson. Olivia Schindler received approval as the student representative to the School Board. Chris Roe was hired as a custodian.
No action was taken regarding the final item on the agenda – consideration of a specific personnel issue, which if discussed in public, would likely have substantial adverse effect upon the reputation of a person.
The Board will meet next on May 24 at 7 p.m.