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Students, staff and community express support for band program
North Crawford
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD - Attendees at the North Crawford School Board meeting on Wednesday, March 15, were greeted with the saxophone music of alumnus Lucas Kradle in front of the building. Kradle had a sign next to him that indicated that the district would be crazy to cut their music program.

The room where the meeting was held was uncharacteristically packed with members of the community, students and staff. Those people attended the meeting to provide public input, or address the board about the proposed greenhouse project still under consideration by the board.

The vast majority of members of the public present spoke about what the band program has meant to them, their children and their family. All called upon the board to maintain the band teacher position at the school as full-time, and not to cut the position to part-time.

One student handed out data about band enrollment records that showed the number of students, from the 2018-2019 to 2022-2023 school years. Without going into detail, it showed total enrollment of 68 students in 2018-2019, with dips in enrollment during the pandemic years, and growth in the program since. In particular, enrollment of middle school students had increased from 15 in 2021-2022 to 25 in 2022-2023.

Public input

Derrik Junker, Band Teacher, stated that “the best thing for students was to maintain a full-time band teacher position in the district.” Junker pointed out that music affects the well being of students, and that since students had returned to in-person instruction following the pandemic, enrollment in the program had increased steadily.

Jezelyn Lorraine submitted written comments that she said were supported by six other students as well. Lorraine is a junior, and has participated in band since the fifth grade. She says she plans to study band in college, and is afraid that cutting the program to part-time might force her to seek another district that offers a full-time band program.

Lena Schmidt is an eighth grade student, and has played flute since the fifth grade, participating in high school and honors band. She said that the band field trips were exciting, and she has lots of friends and her little brother Oliver that want to be able to participate in band at the school.

Scarlet Wielander is Lena Schmidt’s mother, and said that it had been fun watching her daughter participate in band and watching her grow. She said the taxpayers just passed a referendum for the school, and a band program is one of the things they want. She said that being on stage for band is great for building kid’s confidence.

Beylen Tinoco spoke, and was at times in tears, telling the board how much participating in the band program has meant to her. She said she has been playing in band since the fifth grade, and that the kids in band are a ‘tight knit’ group. She says that if the band program is reduced, she is afraid that some students will leave the school.

Brandon Bankes, a teacher at the school and North Crawford graduate, emphasized that he had participated in band while a student, and that the program has real value. He said it is a vital part of education, and had improved his life and the lives of other students. He pointed out that Mr. Junker has done a wonderful job of offering students enrichment, and has had a patient and kind approach to offering music to students with special needs. He delivered a letter signed by members of the staff opposed to cutting the program.

Heidi Olson-Stovey is a teacher at the school and supports a place for all of the district’s kids. She pointed out that every kid is unique, and said she believes that cutting programs is detrimental to the school.

Bethany Seiser is a kindergarten teacher, and one of the signators on the staff letter asking for the program to remain full time. She said she spoke as a band parent and a former student, and said music allows students to gain skills that last throughout their lives. She said the kids love the program, it’s growing, and lets keep going.

Jamieson Adkins has been in band for three years, and stated that Mr. Junker helped him learn to play the clarinet. He said that Mr. Junker had helped him grow.

Patty Kvigne said she had five kids in the school, all of them in band, and six grandchildren currently attending or coming, and two are in band with Mr. Junker. She stated that band was and is an important part of their lives.

Nick Durst said simply, “keep band in school.”

A student with the first name Chloe stated that band is “wonderful” for her, and she wants her little sister to be able to participate in band too. The program offers many opportunities for trips, and she said that the whole fifth grade and most of the fourth grade will participate.

Steven Kvigne said he has six kids that will be guaranteed participants in the band program. He said the program helps kids get scholarships, and music lessons expand kids’ cognitive pathways – physically, mentally and emotionally – and that band adds culture to the school.

Lucas Kradle graduated from the school in 2005, and he said that Mr. Spicer had taught him to play the saxophone, which he said he now plays professionally.

The board thanked the members of the public for their input.

New business

The first item under new business was to accept two staff retirements and one resignation. Rob Ghormley and Connie Torgerson have announced their intention to retire at the end of the school year, and Nicole Feiner, a sixth grade teacher, has submitted her resignation to pursue other opportunities outside the district.

The board voted unanimously to accept the retirements and resignation.

The board also approved a request for an overnight field trip for fifth grade students to Upham Woods near the Wisconsin Dells.

“The funding for this trip comes from a grant we received, and would be for a total of 23 students and eight members of the staff,” Killen said. “Activities offered at the facility include outdoor survival, hiking, and animal tracking.”

Killen said the field trip would occur on April 28-30, and that the Upham Woods facility is part of UW-Extension.

The board approved a ‘Master Schedule’ for students that developer, Dr. Rob Sailer (Middle School/High School Principal) believes will be able to remain unchanged in coming years. He said that this would save him and his staff a considerable amount of time, and serve as an example for development of a similar schedule for elementary students.

“Adding an eighth period to the day is what made the schedule work, with periods 3 though 8 being 45 minutes, and periods 1 and 2 43 minutes,” Sailer explained. “Teachers will have two preps, and this schedule could allow students to take more electives and possibly graduate early.”

The board also approved a modification to the 2022-2023 calendar so that teachers could make up time lost due to the large number of snow days this winter. Superintendent Brandon Munson pointed out that there had been six snow days this year, and there is no guarantee that there might not be more before winter weather is over.

The first of three make up days will be made up on Monday, April 10 that was originally scheduled as a vacation day. The second day will be made up by making the last day of school, originally scheduled as a half day, a full day. The third day will be made up by adding an extra 15 minutes to the workday from March 20 to May 5.

The board also voted to pay for a $29,000 modification of the HVAC system out of the maintenance budget. This will result in an air conditioning unit that currently sits on the roof, in an area that leaks, being removed when the roof is replaced. To replace the unit, modifications will be made to tie it in with the district’s chiller.

Construction projects

Another big agenda item were projects to upgrade the building and grounds that the board had asked for more information on at the last meeting. Those projects include redoing floors, library renovations, a greenhouse, a storage shed for the Playhouse, and elementary classroom casework.

The board learned more, discussed the options, asked for more information, and agreed that a special meeting in April would likely need to be scheduled to make the decisions about further projects in a timely fashion. A total of $510,000 remains to be allocated from the original $4,500,000 approved by referendum.

Agriculture instructor MacKenzie Knutson and some of her students shared information with the board about a ‘greenhouse kit’ that she had researched, that would cost considerably less than the $350,000 option presented by the district’s consultants. The greenhouse would be free standing, and not attached to the school.

“I attended DeSoto Schools, and we had a greenhouse there that allowed for the ‘sit and git’ learning that is so important to agriculture instruction,” Knutson said. “The FFA used the greenhouse as a fundraiser, it allowed for FFA SAE projects such as being a greenhouse manager, and can also be used by other departments such as biology, and food and nutrition.”

Knutson shared an example of the Holmen School District, which uses their greenhouse to produce food for the school lunch program year round.

Board member Jerry Coleman asked if the greenhouse was free standing, where would it be placed and how would that work?

Knutson said that it would work if she moved back to her old classroom, and the structure would be placed on a grassy strip near the student parking lot. She said that the 40x50 greenhouse proposed by the consultants was more space than she needed, and a 24x48 greenhouse would provide plenty of space.

The estimated cost of the project would be $52,000 for the kit, plus a concrete pad and hooking up utilities. The board said that they needed firmer numbers and a clear plan, including being able to look at the area proposed for the greenhouse staked out, before making a decision.

Superintendent Munson reported that they had obtained a ‘per-square-foot’ cost for flooring projects of $15.25 per square foot. At this cost, redoing all the areas in the school that have been discussed would cost $356,000, and doing just the middle school hallways and bathrooms, the Commons, the cafeteria, and the area in front of the Performance Center would cost $234,000. Some board members wanted to take a vote on the flooring projects, while others preferred to wait to make decisions until they had firm numbers for all remaining projects.

The grand total for proposed library renovations would be $91,000. That would include new carpet tiles ($19,000), new paint ($4,000), a new locally made circulation desk and shelving ($8,500), a new light fixture ($3,600), new furnishings ($50,000) and a storage and charging station. The board questioned whether the furnishings would need to be replaced or could be refurbished.

The cost of a 30x40 storage shed for Playhouse materials is estimated $36,700 plus the cost of a concrete pad, HVAC and electric of $9,000, for a total of $56,000. There was a lot of discussion about whether the space would be big enough, and whether the board should consider a larger size shed, which could also provide some storage space for athletic equipment. The board requested more exploration of the total space needed for storage, taking into account needs beyond the Playhouse.

The estimate for the Elementary Casework, for 17 classrooms, is $25,000 for the cabinets, $19,000 for the counters, and $200 for sinks and faucets. These estimates did not include the cost of installation, which could be done by district maintenance staff, if they had the time. The board requested an estimate which includes the cost of installation.