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Seneca School Board approves budget
Seneca School District

SENECA - The Seneca School Board wasted little time approving the 2017-2018 balanced budget of $4,215,078 in revenues and expenditures.

The board unanimously approved the same budget that was presented and approved at the Seneca Area School District Annual Meeting and Budget Hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

District administrator Dave Boland was quick to point out there was no need to make any adjustments to the budget since little had changed in the five days since the annual meeting.

The board also approved a total tax levy of $1,630,132 of that $1,589,444 is being levied for Fund 10, the general fund. The other $40,688 will be used to pay off some pension costs the state took over managing a few years back.

The tax levy results in a mil rate of $10.07.  That means local property taxpayers will pay $10.07 on every $1,000 of equalized property value. So, the owner of a home with an equalized value of $100,000 would pay $1,007 in property taxes on their tax bill for the Seneca Area School District.

The $10.07 mil rate is the lowest mil rate since 2009 when it was $8.09. Last year’s mil rate for the Seneca district was $10.33.

As one of their final actions on the 2016-17 budget, the board approved transferring $413,028 from Fund 10 to Fund 27, the special education fund. A transfer of funds from the general fund to the special ed fund occurs every year.

The board also transferred $2,286 from Fund 10 to the Fund 50, the school lunch fund, to make up for a deficit. Board member Larry Kelley noted that four to six years ago, the lunch program was running deficits of $40,000, $50,000 and $60,000.

“It sure is nice to be more like this,” Seneca School Board President Mark Johnson said.

The votes on all the budget actions were unanimous roll call votes. School board member Bryan Reynolds was absent.

After about a half hour of routine business, the board welcomed three members of the Konichek family, who had requested that a discussion of co-curricular code enforcement procedures be placed on the agenda. The group included Susie and Doug Konichek and their son Ryan.

Board president Mark Johnson cautioned the Konicheks that the board could not discuss specifics of any particular situation that had occurred. He explained the board could only speak about policy and procedures in general.

Susie Konichek told the board that she felt a recent situation involving allegations of alcohol consumption or possession by a student athlete was handled in a much different manner than the case involving her daughter was last year when similar accusations were made.

Susie Konichek told the board that she had gone to great lengths to clear her daughter’s name. Although she is willing to give the school board the benefit of the doubt, she said she now believes her daughter was the subject of a witch-hunt.

Konichek also disputed there was evidence or proof against her daughter for possession or consumption of alcohol. However, she claimed there was a photograph of a player in possession of alcohol in the latest incident.

Then, Konichek started to provide more details of a recent situation she said was handled differently than her daughter’s situation was handled last year.

However, several members of the board cautioned Konichek that they could not speak to a specific case, but needed to confine any comments to the more general procedures and policies.

Dave Boland addressed the issue by noting he could not speak specifically to a situation involving any person. The administrator said he and another administrator follow due process the same as it is outlined in the school’s handbook.

Boland explained the procedure. He said the person involved is informed verbally of the matter and then in writing and often that includes the time, date and place where an infraction is suspected of occurring. The next step involves collecting information from the person involved, as well as interviewing witnesses like students, coaches and others. Sometimes, the district will ask law enforcement if they know anything about a particular situation.

Boland explained that at times things don’t look good initially, but as the district gets further into it there’s nothing there. Other times, it may look like there’s not much there, but as the district investigates it turns our there is enough information there for a reasonable person to conclude a violation has taken place.

The district administrator explained that students have a right to appeal a decision to the appeal commission and if they’re not satisfied they can appeal that decision to the board. He said the process does not vary much.

Johnson, the board president, pointed out that typically Dave Boland and Pat Connors look into matters where code violations may have occurred. He also noted that unless a decision is appealed by families the board does not get involved.

“The board puts the administration in place,” Johnson said. “The board trusts the administration to do things in a fair and impartial way.”

Board member Chad Sime emphasized that the board cannot discuss matters involving specific students in open session at a board meeting.

For her part, Susie Konichek said she shared a picture of a student athlete apparently violating the code in her judgment. Konichek said she showed this picture to Dave Boland, Pat Connors and athletic director Erika Clark on August 24.

“I’m confused and baffled by the whole thing,” Konichek said. “I don’t get it.”

Following a closed session meeting, the board returned to open session and approved hiring Kari Hagensick as a .6 FTE paraprofessional and Derek Wallin as the middle school basketball coach.

The board also approved increasing the hourly rate of administrative assistant Amy Oppriecht to $18 per hour, following her successful completion of her probationary period.

In other business, the Seneca Area School Board:

• approved paying $5,622 to LaCrosse Glass for enhancing handicapped accessibility at the front entrance of the school

• agreed to allow the cross country team to create a bank account for funds they have raised to support the team’s activities next season

• approved a Spanish Club trip for seven students to Costa Rica June 13-21 to be paid for with funds raised by the students and with their parents responsible for any additional expenses-the Seneca students will join North Crawford and Wauzeka-Steuben students on the trip

• heard in the district administrator’s report that there was growing interest in eight-man football  in southwest Wisconsin, both in the Ridge and Valley Conference and in other conferences.

• decided to give the district’s monthly recognition award to the newly formed three-person cross country team for their efforts and improvement in this first season