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School Board discusses connectivity and more at meeting
Boscobel School District

BOSCOBEL - The Boscobel School District School Board met both in person and via Zoom for their December Monthly meeting last Monday night, Dec. 14.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation from Cassie Schmitz of Johnson and Block going over the most recent audit of the School Budget. 

Schmitz offered her regards and thanks to the school board for allowing her to meet with them via Zoom, as it was the first time she had done such a thing. She noted no “serious problems” with the audit and over all seemed pleased with the findings, noting “things stayed quite consistent between the years.” 

One thing of note that Schmitz shared was a dramatic increase in the income for the food service department. Schmitz shared when school switched to virtual unexpectedly and going forward they received full federal reimbursement at a rate that was higher than what they would normally charge for a meal. This resulted in an almost $17,000 income compared to the previous year’s $4,000.

Pupil Services Director Laurie Genz-Prien shared that the district continues to do their IEPs virtually and plans to review them once again in late January to early February to see if they will continue doing them virtually through the remainder of the school year. Genz-Prien gave “hats off” to families as well for their participation and understanding with the virtual meetings and the hiccups that come along with them. 

Elementary School Principal Danelle Schmid met with the board virtually and once again praised her staff highly for their hard work during this hard time. “I was comparing last year to this year and the different things we’ve done,” Schmid explained. “And I am just super proud of the staff and happy to see the students so engaged.” Schmid shared that the staff and students are still able to do some of the typical holiday spirit things like hosting a food drive, holiday crafts and having holiday dinner to celebrate this season of “spirit and light.” 

Schmid also shared that the virtual parent teacher conferences also went well with a 92 percent attendance rate, which is compared to about 94 percent in a “normal” year. “A big hats off to the kids and staff during all of this,” Schmid said. 

High School Principal Wally Bryne also met virtually with the board. He shared that the school has set up some alternative learning spaces to help students better social distance in some of the smaller class rooms. He also gave a special shout out to the transportation and food service departments for helping out a bit extra during the pivot to learning session. During this time the students who were “struggling in the virtual world” as Bryne put it were able to come to the school and be in class and get direct help from their teachers. As well as be provided with meals while they were there and transportation. “It seemed to go well,” Bryne said. 

He also shared that Internet hotspots have been distributed to the families who needed help with connectivity. Additionally the district has ordered Verizon hotspots for families who felt that the U.S. Cellular hotspots were not working well in their area. Bryne explained that the hotspots are able to be synched to the school device the student is working on and restricted so they are only able to use them for school work. “I think we’re meeting the needs and I say that with confidence,” Bryne expressed about sending out the hotspots. 

As part of his update to the board Bryne also shared that there was a gas leak in the science lab at the school. They were quickly able to shut off the gas discovered and deep in the line some corrosion. The line is capped and repaired. 

Interim District Administrator shared with the board that he has interests in teasing out some specific improvement items that can be completed around the facilities. After some discussion they decided to look into more deciding what they’d like to do. 

There was some discussion surrounding the new potential change to COVID quarantine guideline rules. Under the new potential rules, which as it was pointed out only one school in the broader area seems to be implementing, exposed people can potentially come back to school sooner. As part of that, the students or staff would have to undergo symptom monitoring twice a day. A meeting was scheduled with the Grant County Health Department to discuss it more. 

Board member Kelly Trumm spoke passionately about taking up the new rule in the district. “If my child were to be quarantined and had a chance to come back to school sooner I’d want them back in school sooner.” 

Both Bird and other board members expressed concerns over social distancing abilities, and having extra staff to do the symptom monitoring if they were to implement the change. Trumm continued to express that the district should explore this option further and if they choose not to do it, come up with a good explanation for families “rather than it’s just too difficult to make the change,” as she expressed.  Bird noted he would speak with the health department and get a better explanation and recommendation.