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North Crawford Board approves new hires
McKenzie Knutson ONLINE
MCKENZIE KNUTSON was hired as the new Agriculture Education instructor by the North Crawford Board. Knutson was a FFA member while in high school.

NORTH CRAWFORD - At their regularly scheduled board meeting on Wednesday, April 17, the North Crawford School Board approved a whole slough of new hires. Perhaps most noteworthy, MacKenzie Knutson was hired for the Agriculture Education position, and Camille Smith was hired to take Rob Ghormley’s place as North Crawford Playhouse Director.

MacKenzie Knutson is a graduate of DeSoto High School, and has spent her life on a farm in rural Ferryville. She is currently employed managing Ferryville Cheese, a store owned by her family. Her father, Swede Knutson, is a well-known grain farmer who was also one of the early participants in the Crawford County Aerial Cover Crop Seeding Program. Knutson will begin her role as Agricultural Education Teacher in the fall of 2019.

With the end of an era for the North Crawford Playhouse when Rob Ghormley stepped down from the director’s position, it’s big news that the board moved to hire his replacement – Camille Smith. Smith currently works for the district as Special Education Administrative Assistant.

“It is in the interest of the program to involve more teachers from the school. Paul Cota, Music Teacher, has agreed to stay involved. Additionally, I have approached Aaron Keenlance, Tech Ed, Brandie Myhre, Art, and Candace Peterson, FACE and all are enthusiastically interested in the program,” Smith wrote in her comments to the board. “They would like to incorporate their involvement into the curriculum in their classrooms. We will all meet soon to flesh out roles and brainstorm the organization.”

Other new hires approved by the board include Tara Wood as Director of Student Services; Elizabeth McCullick as Fifth Grade teacher; Heidi Olson-Stovey as Library Aide; Erica Wilson as Middle School Language Arts teacher; Jennifer Patinas as Foodservice Director; and Heidi Olson-Stovey and Melanie Jelinek as Summer Recreation Directors.

The board approved the final list of teachers for the 2019-20 school year, and a cost-of-living increase in salaries and hourly rates.

Administrative reports

District business manager Demetri Andrews works tirelessly each year in keeping the board updated on the district’s financial picture, and in developing the next years budget. Andrews is hampered in his budget forecasting by the traditional delay in finalization of school funding until after the school year has begun. 

This year with the biennial budget up for development and approval in the legislature and the transition of the Governor’s office from Scott Walker to Tony Evers, the picture is even less clear. After publication of the ‘Blue Ribbon Commission on Education’ report, many rural school districts are cautiously optimistic they will see increases in certain critical areas such as per pupil and special education aid.

“At this time, and with many unknowns, I am projecting a $97,000 shortfall in our Fund 10 account,” Andrews reported to the board. “However, this is very preliminary, and I am optimistic that the picture will improve as we learn more about the state aid to be approved in the upcoming state budget process.”

North Crawford Middle School/High School Interim Principal Holly Jones reported to the board about a ‘Day of Silence’ event that had taken place in the school on Friday, April 12. The event was organized by the Gay Straight Alliance Club (GSA) to highlight the detrimental effects of bullying in the school. A large number of students chose to participate in the event.

Jones also reported that there are lots of upcoming performances in the arts department, and they would sent 19 students to the State Solo and Ensemble Contest. The North Crawford Forensics Team returned from Madison with 20 gold medals, and students and staff chaperones had a wonderful time at the final performance in Madison at Camp Randall Stadium of the UW Marching Band led by the iconic band director Mike Leckrone.

Special education director Kim Littel  reported that she has been working closely with Heidi Olson-Stovey and Chanda Chellevold on the transition program for special education students. 

“A number of students have gone grocery shopping and done some cooking projects. I have also talked about several soft skills that will help them in the future. We have had a few students fill out job applications and talked with them a little bit about the things that will help them get and keep a job,” Littel  reported. “Each of the students in the high school now has a folder with pertinent information being added. For students who are able to receive Wisconsin Department of Vocational Rehabilitation services, information has been sent home, and I have also contacted the local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) and am trying to set up appointments needed to get them enrolled.”

North Crawford Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen reported on a recent professional development conference she had attended.

“I had the privilege of attending the Innovative Schools Network Conference in Wisconsin Dells, and it was eye opening to collaborate with educators and learn about the unique ways that students are being engaged in the learning process,” Killeen reported. “I was specifically focused on ways that rural districts like ours are attracting students and different ways that schools ‘tell their story’.”

In other business

• superintendent Brandon Munson congratulated Mary Kuhn, Terry O’Donnell and Tanya Forkash on their re-election to the school board, and thanked Jill Stefonek and Ed Heisz for having run for the position

• approved the final reading of updated board policies

• accepted the resignations of 4K teacher Lucinda Peterson and high school social studies Tyler Dornink

• approved the contracts with CESA-3, and Vernon Memorial Hospital for an athletic trainer

• approved a $250 increase in the annual donation to the Gays Mills Swimming Pool from the usual $750 to $1,000 to support their fundraising efforts for needed improvements to the facility