NORTH CRAWFORD - The North Crawford School Board did not appoint a new board member to serve the remainder of Tanya Forkash’s term at their meeting on Monday, August 19. After failing to gain a majority of votes through four rounds of voting, they reached an impasse and tabled a decision about filling the vacant seat.
The two candidates nominated by sitting school board members were Jill Stefonek and Paul Nicholson. While the board members silently cast their paper ballots through four rounds of voting, Stefonek and Nicholson carried on joking and laughing in great amity.
Prior to the vote, the two were given time for a brief introduction:
“I have lived here and worked for CROPP Cooperative for the last 20 years,” Stefonek said. “I have two bachelors degrees in accounting and information technology, have a daughter going into seventh grade at North Crawford, and if elected, looking forward to serving the students and the community as a school board member.”
“I was born and raised in Soldiers Grove and operate the oldest business in the village – Nicholson Motors has been in business for 74 years,” Nicholson said. “I have a son going into sixth grade at the school, and honored when I was asked to serve on the board. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.”
Library Media Specialist Liz Bransky offered the board an overview of the North Crawford Library in the District Showcase portion of the meeting agenda.
“Our library is fortunate to enjoy a terrific budget provided by the State of Wisconsin of about $19,000 per year,” Bransky said. “We have also enjoyed great support from the district administration and our staff is eager to collaborate with the library.”
Bransky explained that the library staff, which recently lost Nancy Brockway and added Heidi Olson Stovey, has worked hard over the years to transform the library and make it more welcoming.
“The district’s previous art teacher was generous in donating comfortable chairs to the library,” Bransky explained. “She also completely repainted the library which we really appreciate.”
Bransky discussed some of the changes in the library including some changes to the collection. Her staff has gradually been shifting the average age of books in their collection down, and has added audio and graphic novel books to the collection, which are reported to be a hit with the students. They have increased circulation, and the fourth and fifth grade classes are the top classes for checkouts from the library.
“One area that we are working on growing is collaborating with teachers around research projects,” Bransky reported. “We use the methodology of ‘guided research’ where students generate the questions they want to answer with their research.”
Another program that is popular with the middle school students is the annual ‘Barnes and Noble’ trip. Middle school students are given the opportunity to research various books they would like to add to the library’s collection, and create a report about why they think the book should be added. At the end of the project, students get to go to Barnes and Noble and the school buys the book and adds it to the library collection. The books carry a special sticker denoting that they were selected by the students, and Bransky reports they are very popular selections.
When describing, “What’s new?” at the library, Bransky shared an ambitious list of projects. Those projects included working with CESA-3 to develop the district’s library and technology plans; replacing VHS video with DVD; adding more audio books to the collection; adding a ‘Barnes and Noble’ trip for high school students; and developing more kits to support the STEM and art curricula.
During the public input part of the meeting, Peggy Schmitt of Rolling Ground expressed come concerns with the district’s transportation plan.
“Who does the bus route scheduling?” Schmitt asked. “Why is the first child picked up on a route always the last one dropped off?”
Schmitt was particularly concerned about some of the younger children who rode the bus and had particularly long rides, and as a result, particularly long days.
“I run a daycare, and the little ones I take care of get picked up at ten after seven and don’t get dropped off until quarter to five,” Schmitt said. “By the time they get to me, the little ones are all asleep and I have to go onto the bus and wake them up.”
Terry O’Donnell reported that bus route issues are “complicated,” and noted that the end-of-day routes always start in the villages, and that is where the vast majority of the kids get off the bus.”
Board president Mary Kuhn told Schmitt that District Administrator Brandon Munson would have Transportation Manager Kevin Burke take a look at the routes serving the Rolling Ground area and “see what could be done.”
In other business
In other business, the board:
• approved the hire of Tom Wiedenfeld for a five-eights high school math teaching position; Kari Davidson as a special education program secretary; Sarah Heafer as fifth grade teacher; Cindy Peterson as half time early childhood teacher; Vicki Kirkeeng as high special education teacher; and Scarlett Wielander as part-time school nurse;
• heard a report from Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen about a math training her team attended, and plans to put special focus on the elementary math program in the coming school year;
• approved the Teacher, Transportation, Elementary and Middle School/High School Handbooks;
• approved the 2019-20 Co-Curricular salary schedule and academic advisor positions;• approved the purchase of a $10,861 steamer table to replace the current failing 10-year-old units.