The new North Crawford School District Director of Transportation is Jared Powell. The school board approved Powell for the position at their meeting last Thursday.
Powell is a 2012 graduate of North Crawford High School, who went on to graduate from the Southwest Tech automotive program. He has been employed as a mechanic in Alaska and more recently at Sleepy Hollow Auto in Viroqua.
North Crawford School Board member Judy Powell abstained from the vote, as she is Jared’s mother.
Powell replaces transportation director Stan Turben, who retired earlier this spring after serving 36 years with the district.
The meeting began with a lengthy report by Tarasa Lown, the North Crawford Schools Director of Resource Development.
Lown began with an update on the school’s federal PEP Grant, which will come to a close on July 31. The school’s fitness center, located in a retrofitted storage building on the grounds, has been completed, Lown reported.
Fitness equipment obtained with PEP grant funding has been installed.
Seven staff members including middle school/high school principal Brandon Munson, who also serves as the varsity football coach, have received training appropriate to the use of the fitness center.
The school opted to adopt a program called ‘Bigger, Faster, Stronger,’ which is widely used among high schools and some colleges. In addition to Munson and physical education teachers, Anna Davidson and Chris Wettstein, two members of the after school program, Liz Bransky and Amy Allbaugh, also received the training. District employees Tina Volden and Melany Jelinek were also certifed in the BFS program. The school paid $2,100 from the PEP Grant funds to have the seven staff members trained and certified in the BFS program.
Munson told the board that in addition to the insights into physical training, the BFS program also emphasized the safety aspect of the training.
Board member Judy Powell, a registered nurse, questioned if the program took into account differences in individual body development in addition to chronological ages. Munson said it did and BFS provided specific tests to assess how much training students would be able to safely do.
Lown told the board that only the seven staff members, who were certified in the BFS program, would be allowed to have keys and supervise activity in the fitness center.
Board member Wade Dull questioned whether having only seven keys was practical. Lown replied that the district was “being real careful” initially about allowing access.
North Crawford School District Superintendent Dr. Dan Davies told the board the plan for fitness center access was “to start out as tight as we can” and then “loosen up later.”
Davies said the concerns with having too many keys was that someone would be in the fitness center unsupervised and be injured or damage equipment.
Lown indicated there are plans to have more staff members certified in the BFS program this fall.
Following the fitness center discussion, Lown provided the board with an update on the progress made toward establishing a North Crawford Education Foundation.
Lown told the board she had talked with an attorney familiar with an education foundation for public schools in LaCrosse, as well as another individual involved in the Seneca Education Foundation. Additionally, the school’s director of resource development spoke with Barb Daus whose charitable umbrella group, the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, manages the Crawford Community Fund among many other philanthropic organizations, including education foundations.
In a conversation with Barbara Boland, the President of the Seneca Education Foundation, Lown learned about some of the activities and assistance the group has provided to that school.
Seneca’s non-profit foundation has three funds, Lown told the North Crawford School Board. The funds are scholarships, endowment and a general fund.
North Crawford Director of Special Education Pat Wenske, who also works in that role for the Seneca School District was quick to praise the work of the foundation there.
Dr. Davies told the board that a committee should be formed to look into the possibilities of forming such a foundation at North Crawford. He said the committee could include a few board members, a teacher and other members of the community.
School board president Mary Kuhn and board member Judy Powell volunteered to serve on such a committee.
In addition to hiring a new transportation director, the school board also hired two new teachers in a complicated reshuffling of staff based on promotions, reassignments, retirements, a resignation and some estimated smaller class sizes.
The two newly hired teachers are Amanda Ziemer, a fifth grade teacher with four years of experience in the Tomah School District and sixth grade teacher Ryan Pedretti, who has no previous experience.
The new teachers replace former fifth grade teacher Jessica Gander, who decided to take on the position of middle/high school social studies teacher and former sixth grade teacher Nate McKittrick, who took a position teaching middle school math.
This staffing shuffle began when social studies teacher Eric Matz resigned to take a teaching position in Kuwait and math teacher Eileen Robel dropped her middle school math teaching assignments to take on more high school math after longtime teacher Dave Fanta retired.
Former elementary school principal Brandon Munson went to some length to explain to the board that the district did not have intentions to hire replacements for fourth grade teacher Lynn Harden, who retired at the end of the is school year, or second grade teacher Julie Kruizenga, who has become the new elementary school principal.
Munson told the board that projections of elementary school classes in those grades indicate there will be one less class. However, the administrator was quick to note that the actual number of students in those grades will not be known until the first day of school and adjustments may have to be made if there are more students than currently expected.
Munson also engaged the board in a brief discussion about the SAGE program, which offers state aid to fund more teachers in grades first through third to achieve lower class sizes.
The maximum class size allowed under the program is 18. This can cause problems for smaller districts that have one class and then might need to add another if the class size hits 19.
The administrator told the board the state appears to be relaxing the strict interpretation of the 18-student limit and is including other criteria to be considered as complying with SAGE rules.
In other business, the North Crawford School Board:
• decided to keep student fees and lunch prices the same for next year, but to raise milk prices and the breakfast price by five cents, making milk 30 cents per carton and student breakfasts $1.10
• approved agreements with the Seneca School District to provide autism education services and transportation services to the New Frontiers School in Prairie du Chien for students traveling there
• tabled agreements to provide early childhood special ed services to the Kickapoo School District until details can be worked out
• approved payment for a position for work on the district’s web page at five percent of the base salary and approved the middle school government advisor to be paid three percent of the base salary
• agreed to increase the school nurse pay by 1.62 percent—the same rate as other staff raises
• approved making the DHH/sign language professional position an MA-5 salary level position
• approved the construction of a dugout at the softball field to be paid for by funds raised by the team members
• heard during the administrative report that the school’s popular after-school program, ‘Beyond the Bell,’ did not receive funding this year and options to fund it through Fund 80 were being reviewed
• following a closed session, approved contracts with raise for the superintendent ($500), high school principal (1.62%), businees manager (1.62% for 2014-15 and 1.62% 2015-16), director of special education (1.62% for 208-day contract)