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Missed days have effect on Seneca School District calendar
Seneca School District

SENECA - You could tell the end of the school year was approaching, when you listened to the Seneca School Board discuss things at their meeting Monday night.

One of the first major items on the agenda was next year’s school calendar. Ironically, it was a situation that arose with this year’s calendar that influenced next year’s calendar. 

Seneca District Administrator Dave Boland told the board that in a meeting 12 to 15 teachers and parents, the thrust of the suggestions was to work to get more time built into the calendar. 

The group suggested adding seven minutes per day. This would create three more ‘days’ than the current calendar to offset missed time during the school year.

In a normal year, there are five makeup days built into the calendar before the district has to start taking days from the Easter break to make up for missed days.

The Seneca Area School District averages 3.4 makeup days per year. This year there were 11 and there’s the rub.

Boland termed the proposed change a generous offer from the teachers, who are “looking out for the best interest of the kids.”

Another proposal that got a favorable reception was taking away a vacation day in October and making that vacation day the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Other districts have done this and it has proved popular especially with people who must travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The group also proposed taking a February in-service day for the teachers and moving it to the end of the year.

When the proposed calendar with those changes went before 20 teachers, 16 supported all the proposed changes and four favored just some of the proposed changes,  according to  Boland. 

The administrator explained the calendar would include a two-minute earlier start and a five-minute later dismissal in the afternoon.

The board approved the 2019-20 Seneca School Calendar as proposed.

The board accepted a low bid of $36,000 from Lomas Electric to bring in a buried electrical power source to the school after Alliant Energy redoes the electrical connection. By burying the power, the district will be able to remove numerous power poles around the school that are currently used to bring power from the Alliant electrical connection into the building.

The review of the 2018-19 school district budget indicated there probably would not be much of a surplus left at the end of the fiscal year.

Projects that are taking more funding in the current budget included sidewalk work outside at the main entrance to the school and an upgraded website. The district also purchased a van this year.

The board learned the Town of Seneca was considering putting in a flashing crossing sign at the crosswalk in front of the building. The flashing LED-lit sign would be solar powered and pedestrians would push a button to activate it.

Dealing with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for improving the crosswalk on a state highway led to consideration of improving handicap accessibility across the highway. While the sidewalk on the school side of the highway provides good handicap access, the sidewalk on the other side does not and needs to be improved, Boland told the board.

While work on the crosswalk is the responsibility of the Town of Seneca, Boland said the district would contribute to the project.

The board ended the open session portion of the meeting by deciding to give the Seneca Area School District Monthly Recognition to Seneca High School forensic team for an outstanding performance at the state tournament.

In other business, the Seneca School Board:

• approved the 2019 SWEEP membership which puts the district in a consortium that allows it access to specialized grounds keeping equipment for use on athletic fields

• approved a 2019-20 CESA 3 contract for services including a slightly higher use of occupational therapy services in the coming year (less than $1,000 more)

• declined to approve a 2019-20 student accident insurance policy–concluding the $1,500 policy really offered little or no protection to students or their parents or the district

• decided to create a $500  ‘Pay-It-Forward’ Scholarship with unused funds from the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018

• discussed options for psychology services because the Benton School District is decreasing their demand for the service next year

• scheduled a board listening session for students, bus drivers, teachers and the public in May and June

Following a closed session to consider personnel issues, the board reconvened in open session and:

• hired Tiffany Stluka to be the assistant middle school track coach

• hired Brad Wright to be the middle school girls basketball coach

• accepted the resignation of custodian Larry McCarn (44 years) and fifth grade teacher Marlys Oldenburg (38 years)