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North Crawford School Board discusses PEP grant funding
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The PEP grant: what will it provide, what’s the timeline, and how much will it cost the school district were among the questions answered by physical education teacher Jud Eastman and school-to-work coordinator Tarasa Lown at the North Crawford School District Schhol Board meeting on Tuesday, Sept 20.

The three-year Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant will allow the school to develop and improve physical education facilities for the school, and ultimately, for the community at large.

Year one will involve planning and the purchase of assessment monitors along with new balls, nets and mats for the physical education department. Year two will include the purchase of a fitness center – elliptical machines, treadmills, and weight equipment. The third year will round out the fitness program with outdoor athletic equipment such as snowshoes and skis.

And after the third year, the school can make the new fitness center available to the larger community, opening before and after school.

“We want to be able to service an entire community,” said Eastman. “Retirees, kids, parents, everyone.”

The program requires partial matching of funds, in kind. For the grant of $787,689, the school must match $190,662. But in reality, what the school will need to come up with far less.

“The greatest portion of the in-kind match is human resources,” said Lown.

Time spent by personnel will account for 40-percent of those matching funds.

“Gary Hines and Jud Eastman are key components to making this work,” Lown said. The two physical education teachers are integral to the planning and implementation of the program. As such, 10-percent of their salaries will count toward the matching funds.

What the school will need to budget extra money for will consist primarily of field trip and transportation expenses. Lown estimates that this will cost approximately $25,000 over the three years.

The school will need to assess the building and grounds as the planning progresses, according to district administrator Dr. Dan Davies.

“We can’t fit this in the existing space, so we’ll need to find more room,” Davies said.

Space needs provoked a discussion among board members. Board member Judy Powell suggested looking for outside investment for a separate building.

“Reaching out to the community, we may find entities that will be interested in investing,” Powell said. “There may be rural access grants that would help pay for something like this.”

As the board moved on, discussion also took place over a recommendation by Davies to join the Rural Schools Alliance. The organization serves to advocate for issues affecting rural schools.

“When you have a voice that represents rural schools, that can only further your cause,” Davies said.

The recommendation was approved unanimously.

Eastman suggested moving the health education high school class to an earlier grade to allow room for more physical education electives. His recommendation was to move the class from ninth to eighth grade.

Both Davies and elementary school principal Brandon Munson spoke in favor of the move.

“Changes in the ages at which children are maturing, it may be more useful at the younger age,” Davies said.

“I would agree,” Munson said. “Given the lifestyle choices being made, we may want to look at an even earlier age, perhaps seventh grade.”

It was noted that seventh grade may meet resistance in the community, by Powell.

The board tabled the discussion and will revisit it in October.

Director of Special Education Pat Wenske went over changes in state testing taking place.

“We will no longer give the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Examination (WKCE) to the high school students,” Wenske explained. “The ACT Suite will be given to all high school students in their junior year.”

Funding accompanying the state mandated change would ensure students do not need to pay to take the test, though Wenske noted that students who opted for additional testing to improve college entrance scores would have to pay for second or third tests.

“They should prove both more rigorous and a more accurate assessment of how students are doing,” Wenske said, noting the ACT is based on national standards rather than state.

“Do vocational schools like students to take the ACT,” queried board member Michael Bedessem.

“I think so,” said Powell, referencing her son’s experience entering a technical college. “If they didn’t take the ACT, they had to take placement testing.”

“At least this will benefit the 50-percent of kids who already take the ACT,” said board member Miguel Morga. “The WKCE doesn’t actually benefit any of them. The ACT measures you against national standards whereas the WKCE is measuring you against your peers.”

In other business:

• early graduation was approved for Juniors Josh Olson and Aubrey Stevenson

• Beyond the Bell’s opening enrollment is at 80 students, with more expected to enroll as the year progresses—extra funding this year will allow the program to break students up into smaller groups

• Davies is setting up a presentation for students and staff on bullying

• projected numbers for open enrollment proved high, with 33 students entering through open enrollment and 33 leaving—overall enrollment is down by 11

• Graduation credits for math and science will be changing to three credits each beginning with the class of 2016/2017

• hearing teacher services are being sought through CESA 4

• a presentation on the new report cards is being worked on for October—it changes comparisons of performance from state to national, and a drop in scores is expected