There was a festive air surrounding the Richland School Board meeting Monday night at RCHS.
There was a celebration of two board members’ lengthy careers. Patti Silver was recognized for 27 years of service as a board member and Michael O’Leary was honored for his six years. Neither sought re-election in the recent election.
There were laughs and pleasantries expressed as well, in addition to a few teary eyes, and proclamations from Board President/Mayor Paul Corcoran noting Tuesday, April 19, as Patti Silver Day in Richland Center and Wednesday, April 20, as Michael O’Leary Day.
And that wasn’t the only celebration.
District Administrator Jarred Burke acknowledged the support of the district by voters who recently approved three referendum issues. The issues included a $475,000 recurring referendum for technology and two questions seeking to borrow a total of $8.5 million for safety and security issues as well as building and facility maintenance and improvements.
Burke said he was especially appreciative of the support despite hearing about economic hardships facing district residents during his meetings explaining the plans. He also noted the referenda all received support from Richland Center voters as well as those residing outside of the city.
Official results revealed 2,112 in favor of the recurring referendum for technology while 1,585 opposed. There were 2,044 votes in favor of the safety and security referendum while 1,599 in opposition. And there were 2,261 votes to borrow for maintenance and improvements while 1,394 opposed.
All of the questions were approved in all 12 wards in the city. All were approved by the one village in the district, and in at least seven of 12 townships where any votes were cast.
The board also approved a recommendation from Burke regarding district health insurance. Burke reviewed the recommendation of the district committee who worked on the issue. “I couldn’t turn it down,” Burke said.
The decision will mean that the district will use the WCA Group Health Trust for its health insurance carrier in 2016-17 and allow the district to realize a savings of about $373,000 over this year’s cost with assurance that the 2017-18 rate will have no more than a 7 percent increase.
Sandy Layer, representing the district support staff union, praised Burke for allowing the support staff to be represented on the committee.
Doudna Elementary School Principal Mark Olson said that an effort to improve the school’s playground had generated about $30,000 and that will allow the district to exceed original plans. He said shade and picnic tables may be included for the public to enjoy.
The board also approved a trip to Baton Rouge, La., for some 14 physics students to participate in the Sea Perch competition from May 19-23.
School calendars for 2016-17 and 2017-18 were accepted by the board. Classes will start Sept. 1, 2016, and end June 6, 2017.