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Financial presentations highlight busy board meeting
Fennimore HS
A poster used to promote a wrestling camp, which included a photo of a current Fennimore student athlete, was found to be a violation of WIAA rules. The WIAA placed Fennimore High School athletic teams on a one-year probation, despite an appeal by the school district.
With the passing of Fennimore Community School District General Obligation Bonds Referendum, a great deal of the Fennimore School Board meeting on Wednesday, May 1, (rescheduled from April 24), was spent discussing the next steps of the process.
        Two financial presentations were made, one by John Major, Vice President - Government and Institutional Funds, with American Deposit Management, and Josh Barbian, Associate Vice President, Investment Services, with PMA Financial Network, LLC.
        Both companies are based in the Milwaukee area.
        Both companies representatives gave proposals on bond/fund management of the approved $17 million to be used during the district’s  building projects.
        Both representatives had previously met with both Jane Wonderling, district administrator, and Chad Freymiller, district bookkeeper.
        Although no final decision was made regrading if the board would use either service, both gave half-hour presentations on what their respective  companies would do for the district’s financials during the building projects, both stressed that keeping everyone’s money (district and taxpayers) safe and staying ahead of spending/financial flexibility were the main priorities.
        Also addressing the board regarding financials was Kevin Mullen from Baird, a financial services company, who has been working with the district during the referendum process.
        He reemphasized the goal of the board’s declaration that all financial decisions regarding borrowing and investment would done to keep the debt levy at its current rate, one of the big “selling points” during the referendum campaign.
        Mullen stated to the board, with the board paying off its 2014 loan this year, which saved the district roughly $65,000 in interest, their “A+” borrower rating should stay and with current interest rate, Mullen recommended borrowing all of the $17 million this year, and having a two year “spend down,” the same time frame as the upcoming building projects.
        With that, Mullen said the district should be able to lock in the interest rate in June, and the district can expect to have the funds “in hand,” in early July.
        Both Wonderling and Board President Peter James thanked Mullen for all he had done assisting the district during the referendum.
        James also thanked the school board and administration stating it was a “group effort” in getting information out and answering questions to have the referendum pass.
        Wonderling also thanked the board and administration stating that the work done by everyone “was worth every minute.”
        School board organization
        April’s election also had the reelection of three board members, Heather Horsfall, Peter James and Margaret Sprague to three year terms.
        With that, the board also held elections for board positions and designations during last Wednesday’s meeting.
        Re-elected by the board to their current positions were Peter James as president, Peter Heberlein, vice-president, Margaret Sprague, clerk, and Sheila  Ruchti, treasurer.
        Other appointments included Sprague as Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) public correspondent, James as the WIAA board representative, and Adam Jackson as CESA 3 representative.
        The building and grounds committee will consist of Herberlein, Jackson, Herman Maier, and James. After Herberlein excused himself as a member, the board policy committee will include Lyle Lang, Matt Rutkowski, and Sprague.
        Sprague also was added to the employee relations committee, which also includes Horsfall, Jackson, and Lang.
        Other business/action
        The board recognized the high school wrestling team on both their state team championship and four individual state winners. Assistant Coach Don Zdanczewicz thanked the board for “the support they’ve shown towards the wrestling program.”
        The board announced the upcoming retirement of Donna Henkel, building and grounds, after many years working for the district.
        The elementary school will have a new 2nd grade teacher next school year, as the board approved the hiring of Sandy Bradley y. Bradley is currently a student teacher at River Ridge.
        Samantha Goss, business education teacher at the high school, was approved as a co-drama director.
        Ben Wood, who has been a volunteer in the girls’ basketball program, was named varsity girls’ basketball coach, replacing Kevin Everson, who recently stepped down from the position.
        Katrina Edge was approved as an FFA volunteer, helping with the livestock judging team.
        The last order of business was the approval of the district’s contract with CESA 3 for the 2024-25 school year.
        Before the meeting was adjourned, the recent school shooting threat (which occurred the same day as the board meeting) in Mount Horeb was brought up and Wonderling went through  the district’s scripted plans in the event of an active shooter either in a building or on or near the premises.
        Horsfall stated she was very thankful and appreciative of the security measures the district takes, such as keeping building doors locked, as some district have more “relaxed rules” than Fennimore.

        The next meeting of the Fennimore School Board is scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of Fennimore Elementary School.