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Back-to-School is subject of North Crawford School Board meeting
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD - Where do the summer days go? Parents and school district staff are probably both asking themselves that question as they begin to pivot from summer schedules and activities to getting ready for the new school year.

Back-to-school topics the North Crawford School board discussed at their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, July 18 included new hires elementary principal Amanda Killeen and director of special education Kim Littel; news about the food service program; fall co-curricular coaches; a proposed change in the student drop-off process; and dates for the annual meeting and budget meeting.

Staff changes

Perhaps the most exciting hiring news for the district is the hire of Amanda Killeen as the new elementary principal. Former principal Julie Kruizenga has made the decision to step away from an administrative role and return to classroom teaching.

Killeen comes to the district from Stoughton School District.

“I am excited to be joining the dynamic team at North Crawford,” Killeen said. “I have been in awe at the warm welcome my family has received to the area and school community.

“I look forward to working together to ensure that all students at North Crawford are provided a high quality educational experience,” Killeen explained. “I firmly believe that it is in collaboration with all stakeholders; teachers, administrators, board members, students, families, and the greater community that a school flourishes.”

In her update to the board, Killeen noted that she and North Crawford School Superintendent Brandon Munson have recently concluded interviews for the two open positions of cross-categorical special education and fourth grade teacher. The two recommended, and the board moved to hire, Alyssa Hanold for the fourth grade teaching position, and Peter Huser for the special education position.

Killeen reported that her team has recently completed some classroom switches to allow grade-level teaching teams to be near one another to foster greater collaboration. Killeen will lead a process with a cross-category team to develop a consistent standards-based report card next.

Alyssa Hanold joins the district from her home in Richland Center. Hanold completed her elementary education degree at Viterbo University, and her student teaching at West Salem Middle School and Harry Spence Elementary.

Peter Huser joins the district from his home in Viroqua. After many years working as a heavy equipment operator, Huser went back to school at Minnesota State University in Moorehead to obtain a Social Studies Education Degree. While doing his student teaching, Huser discovered an interest in working with special needs students, and returned to UW-LaCrosse to obtain his Cross-Categorical Special Education Certification.

The North Crawford Special Education Department also has some exciting new beginnings with the hire of Kim Littel as director of special education. Littel has many years of experience working in special education, and has worked with the district in the past. She also sits on the Viroqua School Board.

“I am very excited to be continuing my career in North Crawford. Brandon has put together a great team that I look forward to being a part of,” Littel said. “In my new role, I hope to develop some goals around data and the needs of students receiving special education services as well as those in need of interventions.”

Littel said she believes that the overarching goal of special education needs to be providing the least restrictive environment for students to raise their level of learning to a level that is not just basic.

“To move North Crawford toward this goal, we need to start with our youngest students,” Littel said. “Amanda and I look to build a strong base for all North Crawford students.”

At the meeting, the board also voted to accept the resignations of Lisa Andresen and Ryan Pedretti.

Food service

Exciting things are planned for the school’s food service program in the 2018-19 school year. The program, which in previous years had been running about $25,000 in the red, came out of 2017-18 with an $8,000 surplus. Superintendent Munson attributes this turnaround to the dedicated staff that have worked so hard to improve the offerings and increase user satisfaction with the program.

North Crawford Administrative Secretary Angie Boland, who oversees the program in tandem with the kitchen production staff, reported that the district plans to pursue several options to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables offered in the program.

The school will begin sourcing fresh in-season produce from local organic producers such as Circadian Organics and Driftless Organics. In addition, the school has once again applied for a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant and a Chef-Led Culinary Demonstration Grant.

Boland reported that the summer food program was a great success.

“We served 1,013 student breakfasts, 16 adult breakfasts, 1,580 students lunches, and 55 adult lunches for a total of 2,664 meals,” Boland said. “Our menu was built with many new products for a fun summer taste-testing experience. Students were excited to have the opportunity to be in our taste-testing group and offer their feedback.”

Boland also reported they have received a National School Lunch Program Equipment Grant, which will allow the district to purchase a hot well food table costing $6,127.

The board left the cost of elementary breakfast the same, and approved a 10-cent increase in the cost of elementary lunch, bringing the charge to $2.55, high school lunch at $2.85, and adult lunch at $3.65. They also approved reducing the cost of middle school lunch by 20 cents, down to $2.55.

School safety

Superintendent Munson reported that the school had received the Wisconsin Department of Justice grant for installation of school safety equipment. The work on installing security film on entryway, office and classroom windows, installing new security cameras in areas not currently covered, and ensuring that all doors have deadbolt locks which can be used quickly if needed, will begin this summer and continue into the school year until completed.

Munson reported that in August, he, Toby Tripalin, Amanda Killeen and Harry Heisz will travel to Madison to participate in ALICE training, which will result in them being certified trainers who can then train other members of the staff.

“I anticipate that in the spring, we will be ready to hold a district-wide lockdown drill,” Munson said. “In doing so, we will collaborate with local law enforcement and first responders.”

Munson also reported he had sat in on interviews in Prairie du Chien for the new school resource officer position. The individual will be a county employee, who will rotate between the three schools helping to fund the position – North Crawford, Seneca, and Wauzeka-Steuben. In the summer, the individual will work as a deputy with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department.

Lastly, Munson shared the good news from Elementary Guidance Counselor Zoe Ellerbusch that North Crawford has been accepted into the Wisconsin Department of Public Instructions’s (DPI) ‘Trauma Sensitive Schools Project.’ This means that throughout the year, DPI will provide training, technical assistance and coaching supports.

DPI has created the program because exposure to traumatic events in childhood is common, and research tells us that exposure to trauma and toxic stress changes people. By becoming a trauma-sensitive school, schools can become a protective factor for these students and increase the social and emotional and academic skills of the entire school body.

DPI has provided $2,000 to help offset the costs associated with participation in the project, and have offered an optional professional development for administrators and internal coaches (up to four per team) in Compassion Resilience.

Fall sports coaches

Fall co-curricular coaching staff approved by the board includes Liz Bransky as head cross country coach, and Canisius Johnson as assistant; Vicki Stevenson as head volleyball coach, and Tanya Peterson as assistant coach; the positions of head and assistant middle school volleyball coach remain TBD; Tyler Dornink will be the football head coach, with Jordan Oldenburg and Colin Price as assistant coaches, and one assistant coach position remains TBD; Beau Blaha will be the middle school football coach; and Rob Ghormley will return as Director of the Playhouse, with Paul Cota and Brent Schwert as Assistant Directors, John Tully as Art Director, and Aaron Keenlance as Tech Director.

Student drop off

Making student drop off safer in the mornings was a topic taken up by the board. Superintendent Munson shared concerns with the board about student safety in the parking lot during the morning drop off period.

Munson proposed a $25,000 project to the board, which would remove the grassy strip between the parking lot and the bus lane. This would widen the bus lane area and create a drop off lane with one designated drop off point.

Board members Jim Dworschack and Judy Powell questioned whether the project and expense was needed, and suggested that the current bus lane was wide enough if the buses were parked parallel to the curb to accommodate the solution. They wondered if handling drop off in this way would create a back up of traffic onto County X.

The board tabled the decision until Munson could work with maintenance and transportation staff to make a detailed assessment of the site. The board will take up the issue again at their Monday, July 23 special meeting.

In other business, the North Crawford School Board:

• set the date for the Annual Meeting and Budget Meeting for Monday, September 24, 7:30 p.m.

• heard from North Crawford Business Manager Demetri Andrews that the school had completed the 2017-18 budget cycle ahead on Fund 10 due to receipt of $118,000 in high cost transportation aid

• agreed to put the surplus from the last budget cycle into the district’s capital improvement fund

• approved a cross-country team trip to northern Wisconsin this summer, and a band trip to Nashville to take place March 15-19 during the 2019 spring break