By TRICIA HILL
On June 25 the Boscobel School Board held a special meeting on several topics, but the first order of business was the initial resolution authorizing general obligation bonds and the resolution providing for a referendum election for the approved initial resolution. However, the board was unable to meet the early deadline of the Dial that week so the items once again needed to be approved at the monthly board meeting on Tuesday night.
The board approved the initial resolution authorizing general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $6,900,000. The money will be used to pay the cost of energy efficiency projects and upgrades to the district’s school buildings.
Voting for the referendum will be held on Nov. 3 and machine ballots will be used. The board also decided to close voting areas in the towns of Clayton, Haney, Castle Rock, Mount Hope, and Richwood. Voters in those areas will be relocated to the following polling areas:
• Towns of Clayton and Haney to the Town of Scott;
• Town of Castle Rock to the Town of Hickory Grove;
• Town of Mount Hope to the Town of Woodman, and
• Town of Richwood to the Town of Watterstown.
“At the June meeting we had decided to do written ballots, but we have found out that we have no choice but to use the voting machines,” Operations Advisor Steve Wacker said. “It was estimated to cost us between $2,000 and $3,000 for the machines to be placed at the polling areas.”
The voting machines will not be the only cost to the school district. The school district will also have to cover the cost of three workers at each polling area for the time that the polling location is open.
Boscobel teacher Deb Nordloh questioned that since they are asking to not exceed $6,900,000, what are they going to do if the bids come back higher than planned and they exceed that amount. Wacker replied that there would not be a need to exceed that amount as H&H Group Holding representative Josh Kaurich added 10 percent on to the previous bids for that very reason. Wacker did say that if there were some reason that they would find themselves needing to spend more money, that they would need to make changes to the plan of action that is currently set in place.
Trumm on board
Two months ago, Boscobel’s school board member and vice president at the time Hershel Marks made the decision to leave the board. Due to that, after several interviews, the board made the decision to have Kelly Trumm fill his position for the time being. Trumm was sworn on to the board after reciting the School Board Oath of Office.
There have been many posi-tions for the Boscobel School District posted in the Dial lately looking to fill positions for a Spanish Teacher, Third Grade Teacher, Social Studies Teacher, and Special Education Teacher. The positions were filled as follows: Mark Ekiss, Spanish Teacher; Jennifer Ekiss, Third Grade Teacher; Robert Harry, Social Studies Teacher, and Cassandra Dayton, Special Education Teacher. The employees listed above were hired starting at a base wage of $41,149 a year on a one-year contract.
The board also approved the contract of Amy Mezera for the RTI/IEP Coordinator position, after getting the final draft from Eileen Brownlee. Mezera will be paid $70,000 on a 210-day contract. She will be required to finish her degree and get a license for director of special education on a one year contract. The school district will pay for her to complete her educational requirements unless she fails to complete the terms of her contract.
Brownlee also had a contract prepared for Steve Wacker as the Operations Advisor for the 2015-16 school year. However, with a date set to have all of his paperwork to receive his emergency license to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) by Aug. 1 not looking to be a feasible time frame, as he is waiting to hear back from the college that his schedule has been approved, the board decided to hold off on his contract until the August board meeting.
Board President Todd Miller mentioned to the board that he was e-mailed by DPI that an anonymous person wrote to them saying that Wacker was working as an administrator at the school without the appropriate license. Miller explained that he responded to them letting them know that he has never been listed as the administrator of the school but as an operations advisor and that Sharon Ennis is currently working as the administrator for the 2015-16 school year. He had yet to hear back from DPI on the matter as of Tuesday night.
While the board approved the new hires, they also had the displeasure of accepting three resignations from the Boscobel School District. The teachers resigning from the district include Speech and Language teacher Jenni Lund; English teacher Seth Bausman; and Tech Ed instructor Jeff Novinski, who has accepted a similar position in Richland Center. Since the teachers had already signed contracts for the 2015-16 school year, they will be required to pay the fee listed in their contract for backing out after the start of the July 1 contract. However, Lund will not have to pay this fee, as she resigned from her position on June 30 prior to the start of their new contract.
ChromeBooks appeared on the agenda again after Technology Director Allen Hines had been asked to purchase ChromeBooks after having a discussion with the Elementary and Middle/High School principals. As of right now there are a total of 459 ChromeBooks in the district, including all three sixth grade classrooms and three middle/high school classrooms. There are an additional three classrooms at the middle/high school that would like to have them in their classroom for the 2015-16 school year. Two of the rooms that would like to use them are the English/Reading rooms and the other cart would be shared by the two high school math teachers.
Elementary Principal Rick Walters requested an order for ChromeBooks, so they could go 1:1 in grades third through sixth grade for the 2015-16 school year. The district would need a total of 804 ChromeBooks to have the district 1:1 through K-12.
Ennis asked the board and technology director if there was a plan set in place on how the ChromeBooks were going to be used once they were purchased. She expressed to everyone that there needed to be a plan set in stone on what is going to happen before you go spending the money and then trying to figure out what you’re going to do with all of them.
“Before we go and order $50,000 worth of ChromeBooks, we need to know how they are going to use them, because we don’t have money to just give away for them not to be used,” Ennis said.
Ennis suggested to the board that they need to start off by ordering enough ChromeBooks to give one to each staff member. Then they need to have a required training for these devices so they can decide whether they want to implement them into their classrooms. Once that is completed the teachers that choose to use them can research on how to work them into their curriculum and for e-books versus buying new text books.
Since the board does not have a plan set in place at this time, they decided to not move forward with the purchase of the ChromeBooks and that they would discuss a plan for the next regular board meeting in August.
Boscobel’s school district is currently part of the Educator Effectiveness program to help evaluate their teachers. However, there were no evaluations being completed on the central office staff. So Ennis brought to the board’s attention the COPES program, which will not cost the district anything extra to take part in as they already pay for the Educator Effectiveness program. This program will now have Ennis doing evaluations on the workers in the central office.
Even though the district will not have to pay to add the extra program to their Educator Effectiveness program, they will eventually have to pay the fee of approximately $400 for the training of Wacker. Ennis currently is trained to work with the COPES program, so she recommended that they try to get Wacker trained so he can see how the system works before he takes her place next year, as is currently planned, with the district paying for his training in the interim.
Bus garage repairs
Board member Chuck Owens brought to the board’s attention that there are repairs at the bus garage that need to be done. While none of it is urgent, the following things that need worked on at the bus garage include: light bulbs need to be replaced on the interior of the building, repainting of the exterior, ice melters that were purchased a while back need to be installed, and more. Owens would like to see the main door replaced and the big doors need new seals placed in them, due to the cold air getting in.
“There is no need to run the heater if we don’t fix these doors because if you go in there now you can hear it howl from where the wind is coming into the building through those openings,” Owens said.
High School Principal Rodney Lewis brought a new action item to the board, expressing the need for a mentorship program for new teachers in the Boscobel School District. There used to be grant money from DPI available for this, but that is no longer the case. This is something that Boscobel needs to have, as it is actually now a law to have this for new teachers to help them settle into their new school district.
“Many times teacher candi-dates have asked if we provide a mentoring program,” Lewis said. “This is important in recruiting and retaining quality teachers in our school district.”
Many new teachers find hav-ing the mentorship program helpful to them throughout their first year in the school district, especially because they don’t have to feel like they are asking a stupid question. In many districts coordinators and mentors are paid $500 for the school year. Coordinators run the program along with monthly meetings and mentors are required to meet with new teachers weekly.
“I would recommend approving a district wide mentoring program for new teachers,” Lewis said. “I would also recommend approving to post a mentoring coordinator position in the district and to approve paying $500 to mentors and the mentoring coordinator. In some cases we might have one mentor with two new teachers if possible.”
While this mentoring program would mainly be open to teachers throughout their first year in the district, if there is a teacher who seems to be struggling more to adapt to the district, then the board can decide whether or not they need to continue to stay in the mentoring program for another year.