By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
North Crawford’s septic system issues reported
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD Director of Maintenance Harry Heisz attended the December 18 meeting of the North Crawford School Board to report on issues with the school’s septic system, and options for repairing it. Heisz reported that alarms had been going off since summer indicating a problem with the pumps.

Heisz told the board that the two 28-year-old pumps for the aging system, first installed in 1996, have seal leaks. He said that the company that manufactured the pumps no longer makes parts for them anymore. 

In addition, there is some sort of leak between the system’s two holding tanks that is causing the second one to fill up with water. This problem, according to Heisz, will have to be addressed in the spring after the ground thaws.

“We’ve already checked to determine that the problem with the tanks is not causing any leaks into the surrounding area,” Heisz explained. “The problem exists somewhere internally with the transfer mechanism between the two tanks.”

Heisz reported to the board that there are basically two options to continue to operate with the current system. The first would be to rebuild the pumps at a cost of $8,500. The second would be to purchase one new pump for the system at a cost of about $12,500, and then hold the second existing pump in reserve as a backup.

“A repaired pump could work for two weeks or two years,” Heisz said. “It is possible to use one pump while holding the other in reserve, which would make the option of purchasing one new pump attractive.”

One board member asked Heisz and Superintendent Brandon Munson what would happen if both pumps were to fail.

“If both pumps fail, that would mean that the waste would begin backing up into the building,” Heisz said. “We could not operate the school if that were to happen.”

Heisz told the board that if both pumps were to fail, the district’s only option to continue operating until they could be repaired or replaced would be to have the tanks pumped out every other day. To pump the tanks would cost the district about $2,500 every other day.

Munson pointed out that the villages of Gays Mills and Soldiers Grove are currently in the process of exploring collaboration on a new sewer treatment plant. If constructed, it will be possible for North Crawford to tie into that system as a customer and abandon the current septic system. He told the board that it would likely be four-to-five years before that system would be available.

“Our septic system is old,” Munson said. “From this point forward, it’s safe to say, we can begin to anticipate problems and repair bills with the current system.”

Heisz recommended, and the board approved, purchase of one new pump for the system. He said if things don’t work out with the combined Gays Mills-Soldiers Grove Sewer Treatment Plant, then the district could look at purchasing another pump down the road.

Munson told the board that this purchase was not budgeted for per se. He and Heisz had put some extra funds into the maintenance budget anticipating that problems with the system might crop up.

Terry O’Donnell asked Heisz if the district had heard anything from the State of Wisconsin about distributing the water that settles out of the system onto nearby ridge top fields.

“We have heard nothing as of yet,” Heisz reported. “If and when we do, I’m sure that the issue will be phosphorous.”

Open enrollment survey

One of the key shortfalls in the North Crawford School District’s budget relates to families choosing to open-enroll students out of the district. This affects the district’s membership number, which has a direct impact on State of Wisconsin aid to the district. It also forces the district to pay another district the funding it receives for that student.

“North Crawford has become a deficit open enrollment district in the last year or two,” Munson explained. “This hurts the district financially – in the 2019-2020 budget cycle, the district has experienced a $298,011 deficit in open enrollment revenue because of families choosing to open enroll their students out.”

According to Munson, a total of 21 students open enrolled into the district, bringing $173,095 of revenue in. A total of 58 students open enrolled out, meaning the district has to pay out $471,106.

Munson reported to the board he had been exploring options to conduct a survey of families who open enroll out.

“I started working on a survey myself, using examples I found from other districts,” Munson told the board. “But then I realized that School Perceptions, the company we use for other surveys in our district also offers an open enrollment survey.”

Munson said that to contract with School Perceptions for the service would cost $750 for survey design and $10 per family reached.

“We could try to conduct the survey in-house,” Munson said. “But if we try it, and don’t get the results we’re looking for, and then decide to contract it out, I’m afraid that would lessen the chances of the School Perceptions survey being successful because of family fatigue from multiple contacts.”

The board voted to approve contracting with School Perceptions for the service. The survey will include both families that open enroll out of the district as well as families who choose to home school. School Perceptions will make three attempts to contact families.

Shed open to public

The board formally approved the North Crawford Shed, the district’s fitness facility, being opened to the public as of January 1, 2020. Cost of an annual membership for district residents will be $100, and for non-residents, $200. In addition, college students can join for a monthly membership fee of $10.

In 2011, the North Craw-ford School District was fortunate to be awarded a sizable grant through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Grant Program. The PEP Grant allowed the district to purchase physical education equipment, including mountain bikes, ski and snowshoe equipment, and install a traverse climbing wall in the small gym, and a vertical climbing wall in the large gym. 

Additionally, the district was able to purchase almost $300,000 in strength training and cardiovascular equipment for a new staff and student fitness center in the district.

Crawford Fitness Shed does not offer the amenities many other fitness facilities offer, including running water and bathrooms/locker rooms. This is not meant to be a revenue source for the school district. Rather the goal is to get community members exercising regularly, and to keep community members who are traveling to neighboring communities to work out closer to home. 

The Fitness Shed Membership includes:

• 24/7 access to the fit-ness facility through a fob that each member is provided upon paid membership.

• Access to a variety of cardiovascular and strength-training equipment that rivals the equipment in many other local fitness center facilities.

• Upon paid membership, each member must go through an orientation class with a certified staff member.

The schedule of when North Crawford’s physical education and athletics students typically use the fitness facility is shown below. While community members are still allowed to use the facility during this time, the availability of equipment may be limited, as the students have priority on use of the equipment.

North Crawford Fitness Shed - School Use Peak Times (times are subject to change).

Monday - 8-10:30 a.m.; 1-2 p.m.; 4-5:30 p.m.

Tuesday - 1-2 p.m.; 4-5:30 p.m.

Wednesday - 8-9 a.m.; 10:45-11:30 a.m.; 1-5:30 p.m.

Thursday - 1-2 p.m.; 4-5:30 p.m.

Friday - OPEN; generally not used by students.

Now is the perfect time to buy your membership, whether it’s for a holiday gift, to fulfill a New Year’s resolution, or to simply maintain a healthier life-style. 

Contact North Crawford Elementary School Secretary and Athletic Director Tina Volden in the elementary office at 608=624-5201 to inquire about a membership, or to ask additional questions.

In other business

In other business, the board:

• heard additional public input about the shorts for the girl’s volleyball team from parent Travis Younker. He said that Principal Tripalin had told him that WIAA had told him that the district can offer girls the option of wearing longer shorts, but need not mandate it. Younker questioned Tripalin about “what his fear is of going beyond the WIAA to protect the district’s children?” Munson responded that the district does not want to micromanage the decisions of the people they hire to coach the teams, and that it is a “reasonable decision” to expect the volleyball coach to inform the team members that they have the option to wear longer shorts;

• heard from board president and Crawford County Board supervisor Mary Kuhn that the district had been awarded a $1,000 grant from the Crawford County Community Foundation to upgrade kitchen equipment;

• was thanked by Superintendent Munson for their hard work recently to attend three days of meetings to work on the board’s priorities and goals;

• heard that math coach Mary Richards had worked with the staff recently to fine tune understanding of the district’s new math curriculum and how best to ensure that students are acquiring math skills;

• heard that North Crawford student Ruby Segel had won a third-place award at the UW-Whitewater Creative Writing Festival;

• heard that Principal Tripalin was reminded of the charms and benefits of living in a small, rural community when 4H students had caroled at his front door;

• heard from Director of Special Education Cara Wood that the district’s new lift van was working perfectly, and that families and staff were grateful to the district for making the acquisition;

• heard that the district’s pre-school screening would take place on Monday, Jan. 20, from 12:30-6 p.m.;

• heard that the district’s new propane refueling station from Premier Cooperative is up and running, and working well.