The usual decision making business was dwarfed at Monday night’s Hillsboro School Board meeting by discussion and review of future problems down the road, involving the possible defeat of Common Core standards and reduced revenue needed by rural schools to retain much needed programs and acceptable student performance.
Superintendent Curt Bisarek briefed the School Board and visitors on his attendance at a legislative hearing in Madison on eliminating the Wisconsin Common Cause Standards through the creation of a 15 member panel, (8 appointed by the Governor and 15 appointed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction), to approve a bill to replace Common Core within a year.
The meeting was packed with visitors standing wall-to-wall in a room about the size of the Hillsboro High School library. Crowds were also inside rooms all over the Capitol following the proceedings on closed circuit television.
After outlining the loopholes that represent the next stops on the bill’s travel itinerary through the political maze that leads finally to introduction in both the State Senate and Assembly, Bisarek pointed out that it could then be amended by lawmakers.
“I have emailed our local representatives, asking them to reject any bill to throw out the Common Core,” he told the Board meeting.
“It is our opinion as an administrative team and teaching staff that the work we have done to implement the Core is highly productive work that better prepares our students to succeed and complete their high school education college and career ready.”
Later in the meeting, Business Manager Mindy Lankey offered a preliminary review of the 2014-2015 School District budget.
Afterward, Bisarek added some somber notes of his own that heralded plenty of tough decisions dead ahead for the School Board and citizens of the School District.
“I will simply say at this point that the low-hanging fruit is long-gone,” he reported. “Any discussion of cuts that will be needed will have definite and immediate impact to our students.
“In order to maintain and continue to build on the quality of education in the Hillsboro School District we will be faced with tough decisions.”
The superintendent than held up a clipping from the Wisconsin State Journal and continued, “This headline summed up the challenges by stating,” ‘Outlook bleak for rural schools’.
“We don’t want this school stripped beyond bare bones. What do we want to become of our district?
“We’ll have a better picture at the next meeting.”
In her report, Elementary School Principal Cara Wood told the Board:
• The school celebrated “Read Across America” last week and thanked Mrs. Krajco for organizing all the activities;
• Reminder: March 14 is a regular school day.
• The fourth grade will have a field trip to the State Capitol in Madison on March 21;
• The third quarter ends March 27 and report cards will go home April 2;
• March 28 is an in-service day;
• The Elementary is having an Understanding Wildlife program on April 10 at 1:30 p.m. There also will be an evening performance in the gym at 6:30 p.m. Everyone is invited. The evening performance costs $5, free for children 3 and under.
High and Middle School Principal Greg Zimmerman reported:
• Although FFA Week was celebrated Feb. 17-21, the annual Ag Olympics were held on March 5 due to inclement weather;
• Wisconsin State Journal sports writer Andy Baggot spoke with the students on Feb. 26.
• Graduation is scheduled for May 23.
In other business, the Board:
• Approved the first reading of a new policy involving long outstanding checks.
• Hired Kevin Burch and Nicole Conley as Co-Assistant Softball Coaches.
• Approved the posting of a part-time Special Education Paraprofessional position.
The next regular School Board meeting will be held April 14 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.