NORTH CRAWFORD - The North Crawford School Board approved their 2019-20 budget with a $64,000 deficit. The deficit resulted mainly from an increase in open enrollment out of the district, which the district did not anticipate in the original budget.
Because property values in the North Crawford district increased by 2.5 percent, which is less than the statewide average of 5.7 percent, this meant that the amount of State of Wisconsin ‘equalized aid’ to the district increased. Therefore, the district is able to levy the property taxpayers of the district less. This year’s mil rate was 7.92 percent versus last years 8.29 percent. The total levy amount for the district was set at $1,693,919, which is down $35-36,000 from last year.
“Basically our membership was lower this year than last year,” Superintendent Brandon Munson explained. “We graduated a big class last year, and we had fewer 4K enrollments this year. What this essentially means is that this year the district had more money to educate less students.”
This membership decrease did not impact the district’s amount of state aid this year as the revenue limit works off of a three-year rolling average. However, according to Munson, if the trend continues, it could have an impact in future years.
Munson said that the deficit is less concerning than it might seem. This is because there is always budgeting in the transportation and maintenance parts of the budget to allow the district to respond to unanticipated emergencies.
“Through a combination of thriftiness and luck in not experiencing unanticipated expenses, I believe that we will make up most or all of the deficit by the end of the year through reduced operating expenses,” Munson said. “For instance, we are still budgeting transportation similar to what we did five years ago, but now we are operating with a very new fleet of buses and have lower maintenance and repair expenses.”
Following his news about the budget deficit, Superintendent Munson informed the board that he needed them to consider several acquisitions to the district’s fleet. These needs were brought to Munson’s attention by the Building and Grounds Committee and Transportation Supervisor Kevin Burke.
“The Building and Grounds Committee has become aware that the truck we use for plowing has a shot front-end differential,” Munson said. “The 2000 model was purchased by the district in 2008, and the frame is on its last leg.”
Munson explained that the current problem with the truck would take about $2,500 to fix with a weld. He told the board that after spending the money to fix the truck, there was no guarantee that it would make it through the rest of the winter and it also would no longer be roadworthy.
“Kevin has tracked down a gently-used 2012 truck with almost 40,000 miles,” Munson said. “We would get a $2,750 trade on our current truck and with the plow, it would cost the district a total of $27,339.”
Munson pointed out that funds for this fleet acquisition are in the budget. Further discussion revealed that the current plow owned by the district would not be a good option, and that it was in the best interests of the district to get a plow intended to be used with the new truck. The board voted to approve the purchase of a truck and plow.
Munson then explained to the board that for student safety and to avoid any liability to the district, it was also necessary to purchase a specialized lift van. The funds for this acquisition were also already in the budget, according to Munson.
“The district has a student that travels to and from school in a wheelchair whose location is not accessible by a bus,” Munson said. “The student has grown over the years, and it is increasingly difficult for our staff to lift the student in the course of transporting the student to and from school, so the specialized lift van is needed to ensure the safety of students and staff.”
The board approved Munson and the Transportation Supervisor to move ahead with the purchase of a specialized lift van with a purchase price of up to the $40,000 amount that is in the budget. Munson told the board that the vehicle would have other applications in the district in addition to transportation for the student referenced in the discussion. He also said that he hoped the vehicle could be purchased for less than the $40,000 in the budget.
In the ‘District Showcase’ portion of the agenda, a group of Linda Dworschack’s students talked about their experiences at the ‘Regenerative Biology Summer Science Camp’ at UW-Madison. This was a four-day camp put on by the Morgridge Institute for Research to help rural students learn hands-on science and ignite their passion for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
This year, four students attended: Elissa Erickson, Zoe Clark, Nyah Forkash, and Faye Brassington. This is the third time North Crawford students have attended the camp. They were joined by students from four other rural school districts across from across the state. They worked with researchers and graduate students on topics ranging from cancer and imaging, epigenetics, gene editing, and tissue engineering.
Two of the student’s favorite experiences were working with stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes during a drug discovery lab and using gel electrophoresis to separate DNA during an epigenetics lab. The students were able to tour a variety of labs around campus and learn more about opportunities available to them in the STEM fields.
Attorney Eileen Brownlee provided an annual legal update to the board. In her report, Brownlee covered topics such as wage and hour law; students; open records and open meetings: social media; open governance; confidentiality; legal responsibilities of individual board members; and general reminders.
Some of specific the more interesting items covered were:
• Wisconsin’s 2ndCourt of Appeals has ruled that open records requests may include both a paper copy of an e-mail, but also the e-mail itself because the electronic version of an e-mail contains metadata not available from the paper copy
• United Court District Court for Western Wisconsin has ruled that individuals holding government offices cannot block individuals or groups from viewing or participating in a dialogue on Twitter when the account is used for purposes related to their governmental office
• parents may give access to search a student’s cell phone records in a legal investigation if the phone was purchased by the parents and the parents pay the monthly charges
• the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has decided that students who are charged with a felony are banned from participation in WIAA sanctioned sporting events until the case against them is resolved
• school staff are mandatory reporters for abuse and neglect, and are now also required to report, if he or she believes in good faith, based on a threat made by an individual seen in the course of professional duties regarding violence in or targeted at a school, that there is a serious or imminent threat to the health or safety of a student or school employee or the public. A person required to report must immediately inform by telephone or personally, a law enforcement agency of the facts and circumstances contributing to the belief that there is a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a student or school or the public
In other business, the board:
• heard a presentation from some of Mrs. Dworschack’s students about a ‘restorative biology workshop’ they had attended
• heard from Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen that a parent group had been formed to help recruit and organize classroom volunteers, plan family events, and support students and teachers
• heard that the elementary school is starting a ‘Book of the Month Club,’ with financial support from individuals and businesses in the community, to help ensure that their students will have access to books in their homes
• heard from Middle School/High School Principal Toby Tripalin that homecoming activities had been particularly successful this year. Those activities included dress-up days, entryway decorations, skits, games, a raucous PEP rally and the best parade since the district started the annual tradition four years ago
• heard that Tripalin had met with the student leadership team and heard their plans to work with the National Honor Society on a recycling program for the school, and also plans to hold quarterly wellness days at the school
• heard that ChrisWettstein will be the boys basketball head coach, with Joe Childs as assistant coach, and Jeremy Fradette and John Powell as middle school coaches
• heard that Michael DiPadova will be the girls basketball coach, an assitant coach is still being recruited, and Ritch Stevenson and Tyler Patzner as middle school coaches
• heard that Eric Hady will be the wrestling head coach, with Adam Hady as assistant coach, and Tyler Finnell as middle school coach
• heard that Erika Wilson will be the cheerleading coach
• approved Nevaeh Roe and Julia Wangen to attend Speech and Intro to Sociology classes at Southwest Tech under the ‘Start College Now’ program• approved the Spanish Club trip to Costa Rica, which is a joint project of North Crawford, Seneca and Wauzeka-Steuben schools