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North Crawford Board hears lively parent input
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD - At their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 25, the North Crawford School Board welcomed back three re-elected members and witnessed their swearing in. Judy Powell, Jesse Swenson and Jim Dworschack all won re-election in the spring election held on April 3.

“I want to congratulate all of you and welcome you back to the board,” North Crawford District Administrator Munson said.

The board also heard reports from the district administrator about several county and statewide initiatives in which he has been involved. Those initiatives are the Crawford County Economic Development Initiative and the statewide Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding.

Munson reported that he had attended the Economic Development Listening Session held recently in Soldiers Grove. At that meeting, Jim Bowman, Executive Director of the newly created Driftless Development, asked Munson to join their board.

“At the meeting, I made it clear that economic development in the county and locally was critical to our school district as well as our local community,” Munson said. “In particular, I told them that one critical shortfall in our area is housing for workers of any potential new businesses.”

North Crawford School Board President Mary Kuhn commended Munson for his involvement in the initiative.

“I’m glad you’re involved,” Kuhn said. “The people in Prairie du Chien tend to forget that there is a northern part of the county.”

Munson reported that he had also recently attended a regional meeting of the state’s ‘Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding’ held in Fennimore. The public hearing was one of several being held throughout Wisconsin seeking input. The commission will provide a report with recommendations to be considered for the 2019-2021 budget.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding, co-chaired by State Representative Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and State Senator Luther Olson (R-Ripon), was created to take a comprehensive look into Wisconsin’s education funding system. When the state constitution was written in 1848, public school districts were created and schools were funded directly from land sales and an annual tax levied by each town and city. Today, Wisconsin has 422 school districts and a much more complex funding system.

As the demographics and population trends in our state have changed, our education funding formula has remained the same. Sixty-one percent of all public school districts in Wisconsin are experiencing declining enrollment. Some districts also have high property values, particularly in rural lake districts, which means that they receive little to no aid from the state. The commission was founded on the basis that the state needs to review how tax dollars are being distributed among the schools in the state.

“When you have schools in the Fox River Valley that can afford to build multi-million-dollar sports complexes, and schools like ours that can barely fund essential services, you can see clearly that we have a problem,” Munson said. “I don’t know what will come of this – I guess we’ll have to just wait and see.”

Munson also reported he is pursuing a school safety grant from funds recently approved by the state legislature.

“There’s a few more things inside the building that we could use the funding for like upgrading the public address system and installing locks on classroom doors,” Munson explained. “The major thing that we need to use the funding for, though, is safety training for staff and students.”

District showcase

In the ‘District Showcase’ portion of the agenda, several individuals and groups of teachers were recognized for excellence in performance of their job responsibilities.

First grade teacher Mrs. Molledahl has recently received the Kohl Fellowship Award. Molledahl was originally nominated for the award by CESA-3, and was among the final 100 teachers selected for the award by a state review committee.

“I can’t think of a more worthy recipient of the Kohl Fellowship Award than Mrs. Molledahl,” Munson said. “She earned the award with the endless work that she does for our district.”

The Kohl Teacher Fellowship program recognizes teaching excellence and innovation in the state. Their goal is to support teachers in the pursuit of their unrealized goals for their classrooms or professional development. The 100 Herb Kohl Fellowship recipients and the schools of those teachers receive a $6,000 grant and are recognized at a spring banquet.

North Crawford Elementary Principal Julie Kruizenga also recognized her kindergarten and first grade teachers for their dedication to teaching.

“Our kindergarten team of Sue Klema and Bethany Seiser are a great asset to our district,” Kruizenga said. “Great things are happening in kindergarten at North Crawford due to these ladies’ work.”

Kruizenga commended Klema as “an advocate for the children who loves to teach reading and pass on a love of reading to her students.”

Kruizenga said that Seiser “works incredibly hard but makes it look easy.” She described Seiser as a teacher who is a great advocate for the students, and who is also involved in the school’s PBIS team and will teach summer school.

Four members of the first grade teaching team were also highlighted by Kruizenga.

“If you want to see teaching at its finest, you should visit one of our first grade classrooms,” Kruizenga said. “Amy Geary and Becky Molledahl are each half of a great team.

“Mrs. Geary knows what each student needs, and helps to instill a love of learning in them,” Kruizenga said. “Mrs. Molledahl is a great team player, and has a great ability to identify how a student learns, and adapt her teaching methods to best help each individual in the classroom learn.”

Kruizenga also recognized Laurie Oppriecht as a classroom support staff employee who “works well with all students, and knows her students very well.”

The principal was also quick to commend the contribution of Elementary Paraprofessional Patty Kvigne, who works with the first grade teachers and students.

“I couldn’t do what I do without my colleagues and my students,” a modest Molledahl told the board. “It is very much a team effort.”

Public input

The public input section of the agenda was livelier than usual, with two parents attending the board’s meeting to make requests.

“My daughter had a great experience last year in summer school participating in the basketball program,” Tina Sidie told the board. “I am very disappointed to see only one class offered this year and that is open only to boys. I don’t think it’s right that it is restricted to boys only – the school needs to provide girls and boys with an equal opportunity to participate in summer school programs.”

Another parent, Amie Heisz, attended the meeting to ask for the board’s support in resolving an issue with her child’s school bus driver using her driveway on Stump Ridge Road to turn the bus around. Heisz shared pictures with the board to illustrate her point.

“It’s not safe to turn the bus around in my driveway because there is not enough visibility,” Heisz said. “I’ve tried to resolve this with the driver and it hasn’t worked. Please do something.”

Administrative reports

North Crawford Middle School-High School Principal Toby Tripalin reported on numerous initiatives going on in the district.

“Our sixth grade students braved the winter weather to attend Badger Camp down at Wyalusing State Park,” Tripalin reported. “They went hiking in the snow, and it was really cool to see the variety of things they do there that take them out of their comfort zone.”

Tripalin reported that the school would hold a ‘Wellness Day’ on May 30, which is the second to last day of school. He also reported that the Leadership Team is working on developing volunteer opportunities for students in grades six through 12.

Lastly, Tripalin reported that he believed he had resolved all of the rescheduling challenges for spring sporting events due to weather-related cancellations.

“There is potential that I may need to schedule a game on Wednesday,” he said. “If I do have to go that route, I’ll let you know as soon as possible.”

North Crawford School District Business Manager Demetri Andrews reported that the amount of propane left over from the contracted 9,000 gallons is “perfect to finish out the school year and to use for summer school.”

There was discussion about the pros and cons of pre-contracting for propane versus paying the winter fill price. School board member Terry O’Donnell reported that the district had contracted at $1.32/gallon, and that the winter fill price this year had been $1.62 plus sales tax. There was agreement that the pre-contracting has worked out well for the district.

In other business the board:

• approved an “Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) trust resolution, trust agreement, single advisory contract, and investment policy statement. OPEB are the benefits that an employee will begin to receive at the start of retirement, such as life insurance premiums, healthcare premiums and deferred-compensation;

• came out of closed session, and approved a preliminary non-renewal of a teacher contract, non-performance related; and took action on teacher contract renewals;

• accepted the resignation of cross-country coach Mike Allbaugh, and Camille Smith, Assistant North Crawford Playhouse Director. Munson commended Allbaugh for his more than 20 years as North Crawford cross-country coach, and for being instrumental in developing the cross-country program in the Ridge & Valley conference;

• agreed to hire Joellen Young as a paraprofessional;

• renewed the district’s physical therapist contract with Gundersen St. Joseph’s of Hillsboro;

• renewed the district’s athletic training services contract with Vernon Memorial Hospital;

• renewed the district’s contract with CESA-3, dropping the educational support and development service, reducing the school counseling services, and adding ESSA Application Services, where CESA-3 serves as third party grant administrator and works with districts to complete and manage the WISEgrant application, as well as coordinate end­of­year data collection and reporting;

• approved the release of Trojan scholarship payments in the amount of four, $250 scholarships;

• approved the list of 2018 graduating seniors; and

• approved a donation to the Gays Mills Swimming Pool in the amount of $750.