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Staffing issues occupy North Crawford board
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD - Staff issues and reading score statistics were big topics at North Crawford’s regularly scheduled school board meeting on Wednesday, June 19.

Coming out of an executive closed session, the board moved quickly to approve decisions about accepting staff and board resignations. 

Mike Allbaugh has resigned all of his coaching positions at the school. Allbaugh coached boys and girls cross country, high school girls basketball and high school boys and girls track during the past school year. He has been a coach in the North Crawford School District for many years.

Special Education Teacher Marcee Murray-King also resigned.  

Additionally, newly elected school board member Tanya Forkash resigned.

In the public input section of the agenda, parent Jill Stefonek asked how the board would go about filling Tanya Forkash’s seat on the board. Stefonek ran unsuccessfully in the spring election for school board seat.

“We haven’t made a decision about that yet,” board president Mary Kuhn answered. “We will discuss that at our next meeting.”

Two new teachers were hired for the 2019-20 school year. Stephanie Roth will work as a paraprofessional in the district, and Joseph Ferrito will teach high school social studies.

The board approved 2.4 percent pay raises (cost-of-living) for contract staff – teachers and principals. They also voted to approve contracts for a bookkeeper, and all one-year contracts.

Three board members were recognized for years of service: Jim Dworschack and Wade Dull were recognized for five years of service, and Terry O’Donnell was recognized for 15 years of service.

Reading scores

Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen included a report on elementary reading scores in her report to the board. The district had rolled out a new elementary reading curriculum in the last school year. 

In that report, Killeen included statistics about progress and challenges in the North Crawford elementary reading instruction program. From a report by ‘Celebrations F&P Data,’ the board learned that:

• readers at or above grade level went from 46 percent in the fall to 64 percent in the spring

• readers one year away from grade level benchmark went from 13 percent in the fall to 14 percent in the spring

• readers more than one level below benchmark went from 41 percent in the fall to 22 percent in the spring.

“I think we should all be proud of the improvements we have seen as a district in our reading scores,” Superintendent Brandon Munson said. “This is a testament to leadership within the district and our school staff.”

Board member Judy Powell seemed concerned about the percentages of elementary students reading below the grade benchmark level.

“Those numbers seem kind of high,” Powell said. “How do our numbers compare to the state average?”

“I don’t have that information in front of me, and if I were to answer, I would be speculating,” Munson responded. “The district is doing great things, we’re making progress, but there is certainly still more work to do.”

Powell suggested that the district could put out a request for more reading volunteers. 

“Do we offer targeted reading in Beyond the Bell?” board president Mary Kuhn asked.

“We do, but during that time we typically have less staff on hand,” Munson responded.

Board member Jim Dworschack suggested that this topic could be added to the agenda for the August board meeting.

“I don’t think that is a matter for the board,” Kuhn said. “Amanda should be tasked with the planning process.”

Dworschack responded that as a board member, he would like to see a progress report. Powell observed that she thinks the district needs a game plan to start the new school year.

District showcase

Assistant track coach Liz Bransky was on hand with track athletes Grace Corlis, Katie Schellhorn, and Zoe Clark to accept a commendation from the board on the team’s success in the Spring 2019 track season.

Bransky read a statement from retiring track coach Mike Allbaugh to the board.

“Both teams had fabulous seasons. The boys finished in third place in the conference with only eight athletes on the team. The girls set the goal at the beginning of the season to win the conference championship. We were clearly the underdog team, with Ithaca/Weston and Kickapoo/LaFarge nipping at our heels all year. We had great leadership in [our team captains] Martha, Jasmine and Elena, and on the day of the conference meet, the girls were 100 percent focused… This has been a tough year with the weather, but none of the girls complained. We coaches were very proud of the outcome of the year, and the team showed the community what hard work can accomplish.”

Allbaugh went on to commend sophomore Helen Carstens, who competed at the state meet in the 3200-meter event.

“Helen Carstens really pushed the limits to the next level by becoming a conference champion in the 3200-meter run, and then went on to qualify for state competition. She finished there in fifth place with a career best time of 11:33:18, which was 13 seconds faster than she has ever run before. What more can any coach ask of an athlete than to have their best time in the last meet of the year? She represented her school, her community, and her coaches with great pride and a humble attitude. She is an exemplary athlete, and proved that what you do both in the regular season and the post season are crucial to being an elite athlete and achieving your most precious goals. We can’t wait for next season to see what will happen for all of our athletes.”

District insurance

The board voted to confirm a contract for district business insurance with the same provider as the previous year.

“The bottom line is that the district will save $5,000 next year on our insurance premium, business manager Demetri Andrews explained. “This savings is mainly attributable to the fact that last year we had a $6,000 reduction in worker’s compensation claims.

Andrews attributed this positive change from the 2017-18 school year to the fact that increased training for staff about workplace safety had taken place.

“The board is very thankful to the staff for being so safety conscious,” board member Judy Powell said.

In other business

In other business, the board:

• heard that Middle School/High School Principal Toby Tripalin was returning to work over the summer, and had started back with Eighth Grade Promotion, which he observed could probably be made to be shorter

• heard from resigning District Business Manager Demetri Andrews that his efforts in the last few weeks have been to ensure a smooth transition upon his departure

• heard that Brandon Munson, and principals Toby Tripalin and Amanda Killeen had recently attended a ‘Professional Learning Community’ training in St. Louis, and expected great things to come from it

• agreed to table a decision on next year’s propane contract to the next meeting, and to seek additional bids from other area providers

• voted to adopt the Wisconsin OPED Trust and Custody Agreement.