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School board president raises the bar for educational excellence
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Boscobel School Board President Todd Miller started the regular school board meeting on Tuesday night a little differently than normal. Miller showed an inspirational video made by Cuba City High School Principal Jim Boebel and faculty entitled, “Cups.” After the video Miller opened up to the board as well as community and faculty attending the meeting about how he felt the bar needed to be raised so everyone can help bring the best possible education to Boscobel students.

“We all need to start working together, communicating openly, and I am not going to tolerate the hidden agendas within the district,” Miller said. “The overall education of our students is far more important than any one person’s interest.”

Miller feels that the Boscobel school district is facing challenges that surrounding districts may not be facing.

“Our poverty level and drug level are higher than the surrounding areas and I see this every day when I go to work,” said Miller, a Grant County Sheriff’s deputy. “In turn, this compounds other problems such as the bullying problem or the athletic challenges that this district has faced.”

Miller feels that the district has been lucky in some aspects as they have been able to offset some of their problems due to the great staff and programs available to the students.

“I ask that everyone keep in mind the mission statement of the district,” Miller said.

The Boscobel School District mission statement is as follows, “The mission of the Boscobel Area School District, in cooperation with home and community, is to prepare individuals for life-long learning by providing the opportunity to grow socially, physically, mentally, emotionally, within a safe, nurturing environment”.

Miller feels that everyone is responsible for making sure that Boscobel’s mission statement is followed, including the school board, staff, administration and, most importantly, the community.

“If someone has a suggestion that would make the board work more effectively or efficiently, make that suggestion to your board member,” Miller said. “It does not do anybody any good to keep that idea in and talk behind everyone’s back.”

Miller asked at the end of his speech that everyone keep his speech in mind as they continued into the board meeting and throughout the rest of the school year.

Boscobel High School recently held its parent teacher conferences and everyone knows that with conferences come grades. This is the time where faculty takes the time to look at the student’s grades to try to evaluate how things are progressing throughout the school year.

“Over 50 percent of the students in the 7-12 grades are on the honor roll and about three of them were considered high honor roll,” high/middle school principal Greg Bell said. “Eighteen or about five percent achieved a 4.0 GPA for the quarter.”

Ineligible list

However, Bell was disappointed to see that the ineligible list was a little bigger than it had been in previous quarters. When looking at the grades, 42 out of 372 students have a least one failing grade, which is about 11 percent of Boscobel’s 7-12 grade levels.

“The area of concern is the number of freshmen on the ineligible list,” Bell said. “About 64 percent of the students on the ineligible are freshmen.”

Currently, the punishment for being ineligible is for the student to lose their open campus on their noon hour. If the student leaves campus, they receive and unexcused absence, which results in a truancy.

“We try to give the heads up as much as we can before were sending the truancy out,” Bell said.

Students receive a warning the first time and the second time the situation goes to the police.

The problem with taking away their open campus is that for most of the freshmen it doesn’t seem to affect them, as they are more concerned with being able to go outside.

When these freshmen were eighth graders last year, open campus was not an option for them. So if they were ineligible, they had a noon hour with a teacher working on their schoolwork.

“I can’t tell you that the hour noon helped them all get their homework done on time,” Bell said. “What it did was put them in a room with a teacher and it got them to turn the schoolwork in even if it was late.”

Bells figures even though the students were not receiving full credit at least they were getting the work finished and were learning what they needed to know for the assessments.

“If they don’t do the work they are not going to know what to do on the assessment,” Bell said.

Bell wants to change the punishment to a noon hour spent with a teacher, especially for the freshmen class when they return from their Thanksgiving break.

“This gives them a couple days this week, the weekend and part of next week to get their work done,” Bell said.

The teachers are on board to make this change happen and having a schedule that will shift them around a little bit.

“I would hate to not do something and have this trend continue,” Bell said.

Recording meetings

At the previous board meeting in October, board member Ron Johnsrud asked about the possibility of recording both video and audio of all board meetings. The board discussed it, and asked for Technology Director Allen Hines to find out more information on what they would need and the cost to make it happen.

One of the issues that was a problem at the previous board meeting was how much space the videos would take on the server because at that time it was believed they would have to hold the videos for seven years on the server. However, Hines and School Administrator Tom Woznicki had some discussion with other districts on policy as far as saving video and also with the school’s lawyer for her input.

After doing some investigating, Hines found that they would be allowed to delete the videos after 90 days.

Once this was discovered, Hines started looking into what they would need to get set up and going. He started by talking to other school districts to see what they have for a system in place. Following that, Hines checked with Lifeline out of Platteville, which installed the Boscobel Methodist Church system, to get a quote for material and installation and also from local provider My PC LLC.

Hines was not at the meeting, but had presented the quotes in the board members packets. The quotes from My PC LLC and Lifeline included materials and installation in their quote. Lifeline gave a quote of $3,645 and My PC LLC gave a quote of $2,626. However, the My PC LLC quote includes $137 in their price to cover the taxes, as they are not a verified vendor with the school.

After hearing the quotes, Hines wrote that if the board were to move forward with recording the meetings, he would recommend awarding the job to My PC LLC.

When the subject was discussed by the board, board member Chuck Owens made a motion to just do audio recording only.

“I am a little leery with video,” Owens said. “You can put words in peoples’ mouth with video.”

When looking at audio, it would be much more affordable, but Woznicki assured the board that they would have to run a much tighter ship so someone who is listening to the recording would be able to understand who is talking.

Miller made the suggestion that Hines be asked to come back with more information on the cost and what it would take to go audio-only with the recordings. Woznicki agreed to pass the message on to Hines to move forward with finding out more information on recording the meeting.

There was a vote taken on a motion by Owens to go with audio only, which ended in five board members agreeing and two not wanting audio only.

Then Johnsrud made a motion to add video to the audio, which was then seconded by board member Thomas Pelz. However, after taking it to a vote, having video was shot down five to two.

A policy will have a first reading by the board at the December meeting that will include for all board meetings to be recorded and for them only to remain in the server for one year.

Bullying Prevention

Bullying Prevention Program members were in attendance at the school board meeting to discuss going forward with adding a silent reporting form to the district website for students to have the opportunity to report bullying confidentially.

“We are still not sure how we are going to do everything, but we wanted to ask permission from the board to move forward before we put in all the work as it will cost about $4,000,” said school counselor Rhonda Scallon.

There are many issues that need to be looked into before the system will be set up, including who the forms will be checked by, the punishment that will be handled and looking into the policy.

“I recommend that you guys check with Allen on the workings of this as a first step,” Miller said.

It was approved by the board to move forward with talking to Hines on the workings of the program.

Program members also wanted to be able to say that after doing all the research on the program set up, that they are going to be able to put the program in place.

“I’m kind of blind sided here because I was made aware of this expense yesterday, so I have not had time to look into it to see where the money could come from,” business manager Cherryl Knowles said.

The full board gave approval to move forward with purchasing a program.