BY TRICIA HILL
Riverdale teachers gathered at the school board meeting on Monday night to voice their opinions to board members who have applied for open enrollment for their own children. Jan Nankee spoke on behalf of 34 teachers who have heard about board members who are planning to open enroll their students out of the district.
“We continue to make strides to improve school curriculum and increase rigor as we will implement both a new reading and math series throughout the district in the fall. Our staff has worked tirelessly,” Nankee said. “Now as we reflect on all the achievements that have occurred over the year, we are concerned by the hurtful accusations and generalizations that have been made in social venues by some of our very own school board members.”
This was concerning to the teachers because these comments are being made by some of the very people who are making decisions on what is best for all Riverdale students. Teachers feel it is disconcerting that these decision makers in the Riverdale district are choosing to send their children elsewhere due to current issues and misconceptions.
“Enrollment in a district is a parental decision and we truly respect that. However, we feel that the professional recommendations of these individuals may no longer be in the best interest of the children at Riverdale,” Nankee said. “In light of these concerns, we ask that members who are choosing not to enroll their children in Riverdale due to the current issues, reflect on their position as a member of the school board even as far as tendering their resignations respectfully.”
School Administrator Bryce Bird had come back to the board with some information he had received from talking to the parents of the students who have applied for open enrollment at Riverdale. With this information, he found that out of the 65 open enrolled students only 12 of them actually have attended the Riverdale School District.
There were many reasons as to why the students were not attending Riverdale, including convenience (daycare, work etc.), relocation, homeschooling, some had never attended and some due to academics or sports-related issues. According to Bird, the main reason was due to the convenient location of another school due to where their daycare or job is located.
“A couple of the students have changed their mind on leaving the district,” Bird said.
School Board President Clay Dean brought up the idea of possibly starting an after school daycare for younger students of a certain age.
“If we set something up after school until like 5:30 p.m. then maybe we can keep some of these students in our district,” Dean said.
The board had no response to what Nankee had said and immediately went into closed session.
Riverdale School District students took the Wisconsin Student Assessment System testing, which tests them in the following five areas: language arts, mathematics, reading, science and social studies. District Assessment Coordinator Rebekah Gehrke brought data to the board’s attention to prove how well the students are performing, whether it be advanced or proficient, compared to four other area district schools.
“Riverdale has been proactive in preparing students through piloting state tests, ACT preparation class, increasing the rigor of the curriculum in both math and reading, and increasing advanced placement offerings from four subjects to nine,” Gehrke said.
She compared Riverdale to the following districts as a whole: Boscobel, Fennimore, Ithaca, and Richland Center. Riverdale had the highest percent in Language Arts (79.4%), Science (87.9%) and Social Studies (93.5%). They tied with Richland Center in mathematics with 47.3 percent. Reading is their lowest area with a 35.2 percent in the district, only falling behind Fennimore which had a 40.4 percent.
“Our goal is to have all our students be advanced and proficient,” Gehrke said. “Riverdale ranks at the top of the pack compared to Boscobel, Fennimore, Ithaca, and Richland Center. Riverdale ranks first in four of the five areas tested.”
Riverdale’s High School students are leading against the same four schools in Mathematics (52.9%), Science (85.3%) and Social Studies (88.2%). They are tied for Language Arts with Richland Center with a 47.3 percent and are second in reading behind Richland Center with 47.1 percent.
The school board made the decision during the May 12 monthly board meeting to no longer continue working with the Trane Company representatives due to issues they were having. They instead decided to work with McKinstry Incorporate for their energy efficiency improvements and remodeling repairs for the district.
They met again with McKinstry on May 28 for a special board meeting to discuss a list of possible projects to be completed during the summer prior to school starting. Some of the projects that will take place during the summer are the roofing on all school buildings, building envelope (work on outside of building) and IT work. The work on the roof began on June 10.
At the May 28 meeting Bird also asked about the possible construction of a multipurpose facility to be built and attached to the high school. He was told that part of the facility’s cost could be included in the energy exemption plan. It was approved to start the process of soliciting bids for the multipurpose facility.
McKinstry employee Trenton Smith and co-worker Nick Lavish brought a Facility Improvement Measure (FIM) summary of items that they plan to work on in the future to the meeting on Monday night. The plans are to work on the baseball dugouts, upgrades to the cafeteria, HS Gym, irrigation, locker room, and weight room window sight and security.
The work being done to the baseball dugouts is to construct two new 30’ x 10’ concrete dugouts with wood framing above grade.
The cafeteria will be having four single pane windows replaced with energy efficient thermo pane windows. The existing trophy case will be demolished and the brick then will be repaired. They will then buff the floor and install a new trophy case on the west wall of the cafeteria.
The high school gym upgrades will include painting the gymnasium walls and ceiling, repaint and refinish the gymnasium floor. Replacing existing bleachers with new plastic modular seating bleachers with integral friction power drive system: main floor two bleacher banks eight rows x 40’ with self-storing end rails and six ADA handicap spaces with a gross seating of 426. Stage area, two bleacher banks with 10 row x20’ with a gross seating capacity of 267.
Irrigation upgrades include replacing the existing irrigation system at the Elementary/Middle School and leave capability of additional zones to the north for baseball fields. Continue the athletic field from the existing system using the existing controllers and wiring. Add irrigation to the Southeast practice fields using the existing water source from the main lines, include a third controller for the back of the building.
Locker room upgrades include: replacing the existing tile from the floors and walls in the shower rooms. Install new epoxy paint and flooring as required. They will also update the existing locker restrooms to be ADA compliant, install new water efficient plumbing fixtures, grind restroom tile and replace with epoxy paint and flooring. There will also be a new door and frame installed.
Weight room window sight and security improvements include: removed existing block walls on northeast side of the weight room. Add two new support columns to support existing roof beams, Install two new windows in the gymnasium side of the weight room and two new windows in the front corridor across from the office for security.
The total for these projects was $428,351. Each projects individual budget cost are, baseball dug outs ($36,866), cafeteria Upgrades ($36,813), high school gym upgrades ($84,562), irrigation upgrades ($72,020), locker room ($124,079), and weight room window sight and security ($74,010).
“Our hope is to have these projects completed prior to the students returning to school in the fall,” Bird said.
The board agreed to hold the finance meeting on June 26 at 8 a.m. and the annual meeting on August 26 at 7 p.m.