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Hillsboro school board prepares for second referendum
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The Hillsboro School Board took a big step toward Round Two of the district referendum debate at its regular monthly meeting Monday night.

After a few key, numerical changes were approved at the last meeting, the Board prepared for the public educational  portion of their plan to retain the school’s high academic level.

The second referendum is Feb. 17 and will be preceded by three informational forums prepared by Board members Brian Hora, Jenny Hynek, Mike Jirschele, and Jan Levy.

The forums will be held in the High School library conference room at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 and 11, and from 4:30-7:30 p.m.  Feb. 16.

Due to the small number of voters, some polling places will not be open Feb. 17 at the request of the towns of Glendale, Stark, Wellington, Whitestown, and Wonewoc.

Those voters will cast a ballot at the City of Hillsboro polling place in City Hall.

Elementary School Principal Cara Wood updated the Board with current news, including Velma Hora’s report on the successful collection of box tops, Campbell’s Soup labels and milk caps, thanks to the many parents who send them to school where they are exchanged for items used by the school.

Wood also reported on and thanked the Lions Club for the recent vision screening held at the school.

There will be no Elementary School classes on Friday due to a scheduled in-service.

High School Principal Greg Zimmerman reported that he had reserved the Firemen’s Community Center for the March 3-4 ACT and Act Work Keys, in order for  students to take the exams in an environment without interruption.

He also reported the following upcoming school events:

Saturday, Jan. 17: Tiger Wrestling Invitational

Monday, Jan. 19: Financial Aid Night (6:30 p.m.); FBLA Pre-Judging

Wednesday, Jan. 21: Middle School Geography Bee

Week of Jan 29-30: STAR testing (mid-interval assessments in reading and math)

Wednesday, Jan. 28: Middle School Spelling Bee

Saturday, Jan. 31: Alumni Basketball Tournament

Saturday, Feb. 7: FBLA Regional Contest (all day)

Superintendent Curt Bisarek reported a “soft” lockdown of the schools on Monday from 9:30-11 a.m. after a phone request from the Hillsboro Police Department and the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office, who were pursuing a subject in the Hillsboro area.

At no point was the school or its student population ever believed to be at risk. This was a precautionary measure.
Bisarek explained the difference between a “soft” and “hard lockdown.”

“Soft lockdown” defines a protocol on a school to respond to a threat outside the school without immediate threat to students inside the school. During a soft lockdown, teaching proceeds as usual. Depending on the conditions, class period changes are allowed.

“Hard lockdown” is defined as protocol that keeps students locked in classrooms. Hard lockdowns are usually utilized when an intruder is known to be inside the building or some other serious threat inside the building or on school property is identified.

The district put the report on its Facebook page and also sent a text message to parents about the situation.

The subject was eventually apprehended by police and the lockdown was lifted.

Bisarek also reported that the District Leadership Team has invited local business representatives to visit Jan. 14 and share their perspectives on the skills students need when they graduate so they are best equipped to succeed.

He also will be meeting with Western Technical College representatives Jan. 29 to discuss ways to enhance opportunities to our students using technology for dual credit possibilities.

The Board then heard a presentation from a community group looking to establish a cooperative that would include Hillsboro and provide a gateway to career opportunities for local students.

Their mission statement is: “To create a healthy, forward thinking culture for attracting, retaining, and nurturing people and their dreams in our community.”

The group is in the design phase of the process. The unveiling of this community collaboration will be Monday, Jan. 26 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Richland Center Fellowship.

For more information, phone Mike Cosgrove,(608) 604-7226, or email Becky Dahl:

Also, the ballot placement for names of those running to become a School Board member in the next election were picked out of a hat. The placement will be as follows: Carl Baller, Denise Huntley, Jason Oetzman, Jennifer Schrock, and Robert Stekel.

In other action, the Board:

• Approved the first reading of a Tech Excellence Scholarship Policy that would provide a $2250 scholarship to a student attending a technical college.

• Approved revisions in the Student Chromebook Acceptable Use Policy.

• Voted to remove the workshop reimbursement language for staff due to budgetary restraints. The district will still pursue workshops for staff that provide professional development and will reimburse any workshop where staff are requested to attend.

• Renewed auto, property workers comp etc insurance plan with EMC.

After a Closed Session, the Board returned to Open Session and approved contracts for Zimmerman and Wood. The Board also approved contract offers for Bisarek and Business Manager Mindy Lankey.

The next regular School Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9 in the High School library conference room.