By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
COVID-19 affects Seneca School District
Seneca School District

SENECA - It was a sign of the times at the Seneca School Board meeting Monday night–the five board members present in school’s band room were all seated more than six-feet from each other. As were district administrator Dave Boland and the Independent-Scout reporter. 

Two board members Mark Johnson and Larry Kelley appeared through an online connection on a small screen with larger attached speakers.

One of the first items on the agenda was a request for a waiver of the instructional minutes requirement for the 2019-20 school year.

Seneca District Administrator Dave Boland said because of the pandemic and the distance learning that has ensued since the school was closed in March, the Wisconsin Department of Instruction was allowing schools to apply for the waiver.

Boland told the board regular classroom instruction probably didn’t need a waiver. However, the situation with special education was less clear and to be on the safe side it would be a good idea for the district to apply for the waiver just in case there was a problem.

The board agreed and passed a motion made by Rachael George and seconded by Britney Joy to apply for the waiver.

The board also approved a shared services agreement with the Monroe School District to allow Seneca’s speech teacher to work 2.5 days in that district since Seneca does not need her full-time services.

Boland said the agreement, similar to one made last year, was mutually beneficial to both districts and to the speech teacher. He noted that there was some flexibility in the agreement that would allow the teacher to do more at Seneca if that becomes necessary.

During the district administrator report, Dave Boland told the board that the 2019-2020 budget looked very good.

The district did use funds to pay off loan for the unfunded liability of teacher pensions from years ago.

However, the district is seeing more revenue in both the lunch program and less expense in the transportation.

Boland explained the meals are being reimbursed at the higher summer school rate creating more revenue. The district has not transported students in months at this point.

The news for the upcoming 2020-21 budget has to reflect the potential impact of COVID-19. 

“We’re worried there will be a smaller budget from the state,” Boland told the board. “Tax revenue is projected to be down 2 to 2.5 billion.”

Funding schools is biggest part of the state budget.

 School districts were supposed get an increase and there will be no increase, the administrator explained.

“In a train wreck scenario, the state may cut $100 per pupil (statewide),” Boland said.

On a more positive note, there was funding from Donors Choose for projects requested by Jessica Dworshack, Cody Sime, Laury Nelson and Megan Burbach.

Boland told the board that the gym ceiling project had been completed and it looked like a new ceiling.

Replacing a server computer and other technology updates have been  completed and that will be paid for in this fiscal year.

“The budget looks very good,” board member Larry Kelley said.

Graduation has been moved to Friday, July 10 at the request of the class due to COVID restrictions. The district will wait for guidance from the state on when where and how it can be done.

“The class was adamant about trying to do something,” Boland told the board.

The Ridge and Valley All-Conference Academic Team was named recently, and Seneca High School had four students recognized.  Kolton Chambers, son of Robbie and Kayla Chambers; and Sarah Lenzendorf, daughter of Don and Toni Lenzendorf; were each named First Team Academic All-Conference. 

Makenna Greene, daughter of Jamie Greene and Chelsea Greene; and Kelsy Ostrander, daughter of Leighton and Brenda Ostrander; were each named Honorable Mention Academic All-Conference, Boland informed the board.

The board approved giving the Seneca Area School District Monthly Recognition Award to the four students for making the Ridge and Valley All-Conference Academic Team.

The WIAA has left open the possibility of playing spring sports in the month of July, if the health department regulations allow it. There will be no formal conference season if that scenario is permitted. Individual schools can participate as they see fit.

Conference athletic directors do not want to have any conference games scheduled in any spring sports, according to Boland.

There is also a reluctance to try anything because numbers of players are being impacted by summer jobs, graduation and other commitments.