By TRICIA HILL
The Boscobel School Board’s monthly meeting Tuesday night at the Annex had a good turn out of faculty as there was a .57 remuneration proposal listed as new business on the agenda and the non-teacher employee remuneration.
Some may wonder where the .57 remuneration came from, and the answer to that question is quite simple. When the school board’s personnel committee went into negotiations with the teachers, they had a raise percentage from 0 to 2.07 percent. The school board had the whole 2.07 set aside for each teacher in case negotiations led them to giving the whole amount. However, the teachers and personnel committee were able to come to an agreement of a 1.5 percent raise, leaving .57 left for each teacher, which is about equivalent to $210 per teacher.
With the extra .57 percent left, District Administrator Tom Woznicki came to the board with an idea on how the teachers could earn by merit the other .57. Woznicki would like the board to consider having the teachers take the time and the effort to put forward three big ideas that each of them believe will help move the Boscobel School District forward for teachers, students, administrators and the board.
“By big idea, I mean one that involves significant change,” Woznicki said. “I would put that estimate for three big ideas somewhere between six or eight hours, so I consider $70 per big idea.”
Woznicki wants the teachers to not only come up with an idea that would help the school, but to have all of the information to back it up as well. He wants the teachers to bring their ideas with support, evidence or some reasoning behind the idea. After that is discovered, he also wants the teachers to explain how they could put their big ideas into practice and what the desire to effect change would be.
“I consider those ideas coming from our experienced professionals to be the best way that we could spend the money at this point,” Woznicki said. “I do not believe there is a way of recognizing merit at this point.”
Woznicki was not looking for a decision to be made by the board that night, but it was something that was required to be brought up in front of the whole school board publicly. However, he was hoping for the board to consider it. If the board decides to go with Woznicki’s suggestion, he wants teachers to submit their big ideas individually and in writing, probably about 3 to 5 pages.
“I would not have wanted to make a decision until the next board meeting because I want to give the public a chance to toss around ideas as well,” Board President Todd Miller said. “We have to do something with the money or by June 30 it is gone.”
After hearing out Woznicki’s idea, there were board members and staff who were not all for the idea that was presented. Third grade teacher Steve Wacker had concerns about who would be reading their big ideas and questioned what would happen if the person reading them did not like the big ideas that were presented to them. Woznicki responded that he would be the one reading them and that he would be accepting the big ideas in good faith and passing no judgment upon them.
“One of the reasons behind my idea is because after all the state has been through due to the transitions of Acts 10 and 32, there has been some tremendous angst from the teachers on what should we do now,” Woznicki said. “So what I am looking for is an avenue for teachers to freely express their ideas that will move the District or this school, without any fear of any kind reprisal or punishment.”
Another teacher spoke up asking if this was to be considered time they would have to spend on a Saturday on their own trying to come up with these big ideas and prepare them for Woznicki to look over.
“I already come in early, stay late, I am already doing tutoring and spending time doing a lot of other things,” said fourth grade teacher Deb Nordloh. “When am I supposed to find the time to spend six or seven hours to put three big ideas to put forth to Woznicki?”
With frustration rising in the board room, Todd Miller told everyone attending that if they have ideas on what to do with the $210 per teacher that was left over after negotiations, they could feel free to contact him or anyone else on the board with those ideas prior to the next board meeting.
Woznicki brought to the board’s attention that they needed to make a move on what they should give non-teachers for remuneration on a scale of 0 to 2.07 percent. The board will have to decide on a number for all the remaining employees or they will have to take up how they are going to address the improvement for the people in non-teaching positions.
Miller asked the board what they would like to have done for the decision to be made on a percentage for the non-teaching employees. After discussion, the board members agreed that it would work best if the personnel committee including Barb Puckett, Miller and Tom Pelz made a decision together and then came back to the whole board with that decision.
“Myself and a lot of the teachers would like to see in good faith that they deserve this,” Wacker said. “We have more on our plates than we have ever had before and we feel it would be a generous offer to offer them the same as the teachers.”
I final decision on the matter was not reached at Tuesday’s meeting and will be re-visited in upcoming meetings.
At the February meeting, it was agreed to buy 150 Chromebooks to be used in the high school and elementary school. However, in that agreement was not the price of the Chromebook carts that would be used to not only store the Chromebooks, but also charge them.
When Technology Director Allen Hines first talked to the board, he initially thought there would only be a need for five carts, however, he ended up having to order seven due to the school principal’s decisions on where to place the Chromebooks throughout their school.
The total cost of the seven carts was $7,235, which Hines had used out of his technology budget, but asked for it to be replaced with money from the Fund 10, which the transfer of funds was approved by the board. The carts can hold a total of 24 Chromebooks, but due to the locations the principals chose for the Chromebooks, more carts were required.
The Chromebooks are currently being used at the elementary level in the sixth grade classes fully on a 1:1 basis and there is a cart in the third grade class if they choose to use them. There are three carts in the high school and they are being used in the science department, English, foreign language, and the history classes.
“I hope to have teachers come to the board and demonstrate sometime how they are using the Chromebooks in their classrooms,” Hines said. “We had the opportunity to find the issues and work through them by testing them out.”
The board was all for the teachers coming in and showing them how they are using the Chromebooks in their classes. Board member Chuck Owens asked if it would be possible for Hines to bring in a cart as well to show exactly what they look like, so the board knows what their money was spent on.
“When I am picturing this cart, I am picturing some big bulky thing that is hard to move around,” Owens said.
Hines agreed that he could bring in a cart sometime to show to the board so they have an idea what they look like and how they will be used.
Snow day adjustments
Due to the severe winter weather, Boscobel students missed more than the five days that were set aside for snowy and inclement weather. In order to make up the three extra days, students will no longer be getting out of school on June 3. They will now be attending school until June 6, and the teachers will be at the school either on June 7 or June 9 to make up a work day.
There was an option on the table to take away from the students Easter break, however, Miller along with other board members did not feel right about doing that on such short notice when some families may already have trips planned.
The bullying committee was also listed on the agenda to update the board on what they are working on. Committee member Annie Ngahlem presented the results from an asset test they had passed out in student history classes. It was a simple asset that asked questions including what are three positive characteristics of the students at BHS, what do you believe are three major challenges faced by the students at BHS, and so on.
However, there was a concern that Ngahlem and other committee members had about the asset test and it was that students really didn’t answer the question that asked what assests, skills, etc., do you have to offer in addressing some of these challenges? They went from having 65 answers to some of the previous questions to having their highest result be 13 when it came to discussing their own assets and skills.
“This is a concern because our students don’t know what they are good at or what they have to offer,” Ngahlem said.
An idea was presented from Nordloh on having the students participate in a 2-by-10 activity. This activity involves pairing a student with someone they do not usually socialize with, and having them take two minutes out of 10 days getting to know that person better in hopes of building a bond.
Nordloh participated in this activity with a kindergarten student a few years back and now that student to this day can not walk past Nordloh in the hallway without having to give her a hug.
There is currently not a curriculum set that the bullying committee plans to go forward with, but they decided they want to do a week-long curriculum on bullying. So if there are any ideas that someone feels would work, the committee is open to hearing them.