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North Crawford School Board glad to get the school year started
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD - After all their busy days of preparation, the North Crawford School Board seemed happy to have their school year successfully launched after a three-day delay caused by historic flooding in the area. A revision in the staff ‘paid time off’ policy, increased enrollment, and school safety were among the items taken up by the board at their Wednesday, Sept. 19 meeting.

In their district showcase, Superintendent Brandon Munson thanked the staff for persevering in the launch of the school year “despite all the craziness.”

“I am appreciative and thankful for the staff’s resilience with the less than ideal start,” Munson said. “Due to the flooding, we have lost three days of instructional time, and staff have been offered a half day of flex time to make up when they can.”

Board member Judy Powell questioned Munson about where the district was at with its calendar and meeting the instructional hours requirement set by DPI.

“Our calendar already had six-and-one-half days of extra instructional time written into it, and we have only lost three days so far,” Munson responded. “We’ll likely adjust with a few less early release days, but we’ll wait to make further adjustments until we see how we do with snow days through the end of 2018.”

Munson told the board that in the three days while the start of the school year was delayed due to flooding, all of the staff except one had made it in to work except for one day.

“I know that Kickapoo has announced they will add six minutes to every school day to make up the time,” Munson said. “I don’t think going that route will really produce any instructional results, so we are going to wait and reevaluate at a midpoint in the school year.”

Munson also shared that the new drop off lane and process was already proving its worth, and parents are “acclimating to it very well.”

Paid time off

Munson said that after the decision at the previous meeting to approve the new Paid Time Off (PTO) policy without waiting to solicit additional staff input, he had decided to delay implementation.

“On second thought, I decided to postpone implementation in order to gather staff input,” Munson said. “We held two listening sessions which were attended by the majority of the teachers, and based on that input, I am proposing two revisions to the policy that was approved.”

The two revisions are to add in two additional PTO days, increasing from 10 to 12, and to lift the restriction on staff using their banked sick time when they have used up their PTO hours in a year.

“After proposing these two revisions, we re-surveyed the staff. Out of the 51 teachers who responded, 42 were in favor and only nine opposed,” Munson reported. “I think this constitutes enough consensus to move forward with proposing these two changes, and moving forward with implementation of the new policy.”

The board adopted the policy as amended.

Enrollments up

In his administrator’s report, Munson reminded the board that the district is coming up on the all-important Third Friday Count. This count, taken on the third Friday of the school year, is used to calculate state aid dollar amounts for the upcoming school year (2019-2020).

“Right now, it is looking like we could be up by as many as 15 middle school/high school, and 15 elementary enrollments,” Munson said.

Special Education Director Kim Littel reported that “there has been a flurry of activity with a large number of new students. Specifically, we have had 10 students in need of special education services move in, in addition to three new students in Early Childhood. We will be adding two more students at that age very soon.”

 Littel has also recruited a part time staff member to round out her department’s functions with providing psychology services.

“Last year Chuck was able to act as the school psychologist and the director because of his background,” Littel explained. “My background is that of a teacher, so although I can do many things, I can’t evaluate and work with students in assessment of some skills.”

Starting next week the Special Education Department will have the services of school psychologist Cathryn Poshepny, the retired school psychologist from Viroqua, to complete some of the data management tasks and work with the program’s more challenging students.

School safety

Munson updated the board on installation of new school safety measures. He explained they have added several new and upgraded cameras, and have upgraded several of the interior door locks.

“We are waiting to hear from the vendor that CESA #2 is contracting with to install the 3M security film on our windows,” Munson said. “Right now, Harry Heisz and his team are continuing to finish up some work on security cameras.”

Munson also reported he had submitted a grant application for round two of the DOJ School Safety Grant. The new grant application was for approximately $25,000, and focuses more on staff training, resources, and materials.

In other business, the North Crawford School Board:

heard about how Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen and Interim Middle School/High School Principal Holly Jones were using the ‘S’more: Digital Communications for Teachers’ platform to craft communications for parents and teachers

heard about how the Elementary Team was conducting a grades two through five reading benchmark assessment

heard from Business Manager Demetri Andrews that the district will have its official budget and tax levy prepared by the end of October

agreed to hire Jessica Pugh for 15 hours per week to work in the Foodservice program