The North Crawford School Board agreed with an administration recommendation to add another school day for students to insure the state regulation for 180-instructional days is met.
District administrator Dan Davies explained to the board at their regular Thursday meeting that calling off school the next day, Friday, Feb. 22, would mean the district had used all of its surplus days on the school calendar. So, any further cancellation of days would obligate the district to make up the lost instructional time.
Davies told the board that he preferred to not bring students back after the last scheduled day of school to make up time. With the cancellation of school the next day for the impending snowstorm, it would mean the district would be forced to make up any future cancellations by adding days or time to the remaining schedule.
Also, March weather cancellations were not that uncommon, the administrator cautioned.
By district contract, the staff already had three days to make up, Davies noted. So, staff in-service days were already proposed to be scheduled for Monday, April 1; Friday, April 26; and Monday, June 10. The administrator further proposed making the two days in April instructional days.
Although the board did take action to identify a day in April as an instructional day and another day as an optional instructional day, they have subsequently decided to revisit the matter at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 5.
The board approved a motion making all three of days either in-service or instructional days for the district staff.
Parents Randy and Jean Ellefson came before the board to discuss the district’s graduation policy as it related to their son, who is scheduled to graduate as a junior this year. At issue is whether the Ellefsons' son can be recognized as one of the top ten in the graduating class based on his grade point average.
The policy for top ten hours has language that mandates seven semesters in order to be considered for the top ten honors. While Ellefson will have completed only five semesters at this point, his father noted that he had completed “seven semesters worth of work.” Randy Ellefson also pointed out that the graduation policy itself had language stating graduation should occur “regardless of modifications.” He told the board that the language about “regardless of modifications” in the graduation policy would appear to qualify the student for consideration to be designated among the top ten students by grade point average in the graduating class.
Davies explained that the “regardless of modification” language in the graduation policy was designed to accommodate students with IEPs (Individual Education Plan). Those students can have exceptions to the standard graduation requirements, based on their circumstances, written into their IEPs, according to Davies.
On another point, Randy Ellefson told the board that a student in a similar early graduation situation was allowed by the district to be designated as a top ten student in 2004. He said consistency would call for the same treatment of his son in this early graduation situation.
Board vice president Miguel Morga, chairing the meeting in the absence of board president Mary Kuhn, said the board had been advised by their attorney not to discuss individual students relating to the policy in open session at its meeting.
Miguel Morga told the Ellefsons that they had raised fair points about the application of policy by the district administrator in this case, but the case would have to be considered by the board in a closed session because of privacy concerns for individual students.
Randy Ellefson stated the family was waiving their privacy rights. However, Morga pointed to the privacy of other individuals that would come up in the discussion of the situation and the advice of the district’s attorney on the matter.
After checking the schedules of the board members and the Ellefsons, it was decided to hold a special closed session meeting on Tuesday, March 5. At that time, the board will consider Ellefsons’ request to overturn the administrative policy ruling that their son is not eligible for top ten academic honors in the 2013 graduation ceremony.
The board also engaged in brief discussion about two proposed field trips before approving them.
The board was told that history teacher Matt Urch had secured a $700 grant from the Target Corporation to take 30 students and chaperones to the Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Ill., while business teacher Scott Hubatch obtained funding from the Wisconsin Institute of C.P.As. to take an overnight field trip to Milwaukee followed by a day with the business department on the UW-Whitewater campus.
Morga said that both trips looked extremely interesting.
However, board member Judy Powell sought a clarification of the district’s policy on field trips that are not budgeted. She recalled that a field trip to Prairie du Chien for a War of 1812 re-enactment by the fifth grade was not allowed because it had not been in the budget like these trips.
By way of explanation Morga pointed out that both trips in question this time had secured outside funding sources, while the trip to Prairie du Chien involved a teacher being willing to fund the trip from her own funds. Morga said it was decided that having teachers fund trips, even if they were willing to do so, was a precedent the board and district did not want to see set.
In other business, the North Crawford School Board:
• heard in a report from the district administrator that three school districts (Wonewoc Center, Eastern Allamakee in Iowa and Riverdale in Muscoda) had expressed an interest in joining the Ridge and Valley Conference
• accepted the retirement of cook Barbara Hines
• accepted the resignations of JV volleyball coach Karen Olson, varsity girls basketball coach Dave Bergum and special ed teacher Jessica Schlieske
• approved rehiring the spring sports coaches, including Ed Heisz (girls track), Mike Allbaugh (boys track), Dave Bergum (baseball) and Henry Bray (softball)
• updated a policy on pay for substitute teachers to reflect currently approved wage levels
• agreed to seek a redefinition from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction of early adolescence licensure levels to allow a teacher more flexibility in what grade levels she could teach
• approved the “Youth Options” requests of three students to take college level courses next fall
• agreed with a transportation recommendation to repair a school bus at a cost of $8,000 rather than replace it
• agreed to sponsor the summer food program again this year