By TRICIA HILL
The Boscobel School Board met Tuesday night to discuss going forward with teacher negotiations and their representative on total base wage raises ranging anywhere from 0-2.07 percent, based on state-imposed revenue caps.
The first thing decided by the board was whether or not to negotiate, as they could choose to give no salary increases whatsoever, according to state law.
“Go ahead and negotiate because the board gets the final word on the issue,” District Administrator Tom Woznicki said.
Board member Hershel Marks made a motion to negotiate, which was seconded by Chuck Owens.
“This is not a win-win situation because if we decide not to negotiate we’re being thrown into the lion’s den, and if we do and they are not happy with the 2.07 percent, we’re just screwed either way,” Owens said.
Once the decision was made to negotiate, the school board had to decide if they were going into the negotiation as a whole board or if they were going in just as the personnel committee. The personnel committee includes board members Todd Miller, Barb Puckett and Thomas Pelz.
The board made the decision to put their faith in the personnel committee, with a scheduled closed session meeting before the Nov. 19 regular board meeting to discuss the other board members feelings on what the base wage should be.
“We cannot go back on our offer so we need to come to an agreement in closed session on what we are going to offer,” said Miller.
“I am confident in letting them run the negotiations,” said board member Hershel Marks, who made a motion to that effect.
The board’s attorney, Eileen Brownlee, will be the spokesperson for the board, at least during the first negotiation meeting. It will cost the school district about $160 an hour to have her be there.
“I am leaning towards yes, because I am the only one on the committee (with previous negotiating experience), and I would prefer to have Eileen here to make sure everything is done by the law,” Miller said.
It was motioned by Pelz to have Brownlee at the meeting and seconded by Roger Knoble.
“I want to make sure that we are not going to start negotiating something and go back to her and have her tell us that it can’t be done,” said Owens.
Final tax levy set
When the board met back on October 22, they approved a tax levy of $2,113,281 knowing there would be a change made to that total later that week because of Governor Scott Walker’s property tax relief bill, which allowed the Department of Public Instruction to write out a check to the district giving them an extra $27,920 to add to their aid.
“This kept our total revenue the same but it is figured as a tax relief,” said business manager Cherryl Knowles.
Knowles recommended to the school board to approve a tax levy of $2,085,437 with Fund 10 ($2,014,597), Fund 38 ($63,783), Fund 80 ($5,000) and Tax Chargeback ($2,057). That recommendation was unanimously approved by the board and will not change the tax levy or mill rate, which will remain at $8.07 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from $9.59 last year
Drug dog support
For many years the Boscobel School District has donated $5,000 annually to the city’s summer recreation program. However, President Miller said that he would like to see the district use that money as a one-time donation to the Boscobel Police Department for buying a drug dog.
Miller feels the drug dog would be more beneficial to the school as administrators would be able to have access to the drug dog right away in the event of a serious situation.
“We would be able to have the dog in a matter of hours instead of a matter of days,” Miller said.
Currently, Knowles is seeing if it is possible to use the money for that purpose or if the school will continue giving the money to support the Summer Rec program.
“I feel it would be more useful to the community to put the money toward the dog,” Miller said.
The Boscobel School District has run into an issue as their Director Special Education is on a leave of absence, and they are in need of a temporary replacement. In the meantime, Woznicki hired Judy O’Kane of Prairie du Chien as a 10-day temporary replacement.
“We want people to know we take care of our responsibilities no matter what the obstacle,” Woznicki said.
O’Kane has worked with Boscobel twice in the past, in 2009-10 for 18 days and in 2008-09 for 36 days. She also has worked for DPI for several years.
“She is considered to be a highly qualified expert and this is a position that we need to have filled immediately,” Woznicki said.
O’Kane will be taking over all the daily duties of the Director of Special Education, including any IEP meetings that need brought up to date. O’Kane is currently planning on working 10 days from now until Dec. 31 for at least eight hours a day if not more.
O’Kane’s approval was left up to a vote of the board, with six board members voting in favor, and Knoble because “something doesn’t smell right.”