The regular monthly meeting of the Mineral Point School Board began Monday night with the recognition of the state trap shooting, track and field, and golf teams. The following students were recognized: Trap team: Garrett Faull, Ryan Welsh, Joe Ripp, Chris Ley, Martina Steffes, Milo Wong, Brady Roberts, Jacob Moellers, and Gabe Ottoway. Track: Jaycie Runde, Jalissa Weier, Jaynie Gorgen, Hannah Owens, Sydney Staver, Steven Blume, and Nate Eisenzimmer. Golf: Riley Workman, Tyler Hoke, Taylor Ryman, Dane Pfaff, Jordan Kittleson, Kaleb Pilling, and Madison Bowers.
— Francois presented a Budget Update. Mineral Point received $4,847,542 in state aid during the 14-15 school year. For 15-16, Mineral Point is scheduled to receive $4,516,131 in state aid representing a decrease of 6.84%, or a loss of $331,411 compared to general state aid last year.
A final budget should be before the board next month with the levy to be certified in October. Francois was quick to point out that even though some districts are receiving more in state aid, such as Dodgeville, it does not mean they have extra money to spend. There was no revenue cap lift for any district, even if they get more aid.
In order to make up the loss in state aid, the district will need to levy more on the school portion of the property tax rate. It is likely the district will see roughly a 6.62% tax increase on the school portion. This number will be final in October.
Francois stated the Mineral Point District has actually spent less this year.
In looking at the comparison budget numbers here: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=37292426 , there is an increase in Categorical Aid, which is due to the district qualifying for Sparsity Aid for having under 725 students. Francois stated the Revenue Increase shown may be due to grant writing.
In the expenditures, salaries and benefits are up, but the benefits are up less than expected, even with dental and vision insurance included. The CESA contract for services was reduced, but unfortunately, the insurance raise was forced upon the district as the state no longer provides insurance.
Francois also mentioned the Open Enrollment numbers will flex as those figures aren’t fully known until students arrive at school in September.
–The food service contract with Taher was up for discussion and approval.
The board was concerned Taher was unable to provide them with last year’s final numbers at the time of this meeting and cautioned issuing a new contract for next year without knowing those figures.
Francois stated Taher told him they might not be able to have the final year end numbers ready before the end of July or the first week of August.
Francois is guessing the district will see roughly a $60,000 loss. The district, according to last year’s contract, would have to pay half of that amount. There is $10,000 in food service fund balance, so $20,000 would need to be found somewhere else.
The proposed contract from Taher for next year says the district would pay any loss shared on a dollar for dollar basis up to a maximum of $30,000.00. Board members had a problem with this number. Steffes suggested the district be on the hook for $0, especially since it cost the district more this year than what was projected, so there should be a penalty.
The board agreed and voted to revise the contract to reflect a $0 balance. Voting in favor were Hay, Lindsey, Stephenson, Dolphin, and Steffes. Kinch voted no. Basting abstained.
The question was then asked what will happen if Taher rejects this contract and it was decided a special meeting may need to be called because waiting until the regular August meeting might not provide a food service vendor with enough time to get the program ready for school opening.
–Unanimously approved the resignation of Cinda Walker, Instructional Assistant.
–Unanimously approved the hiring of the following: Jennifer Wahlin as Spanish teacher to replace Dianna Rogers; Blair Lingk as Instructional Assistant to replace Rich Galewski; Lyndsey Reed as Instructional Assistant to replace Cinda Walker; and Tracy Weigel as Instructional Assistant to work with a new student entering the district that requires one to one needs.
–After much discussion, did not approve the hiring of Maddie Goldwasser to a 50% English Language Learner Teacher position. The cost of her salary was to be split 50/50 with the Fennimore District.
Francois stated there are five Spanish speaking students in the district at the elementary that would benefit from an ELL teacher. Wainwright added there is one student at the high school who would also benefit.
Kinch questioned whether it was a law the district needed to provide this service. Francois stated he isn’t aware it’s an actual law but said the district has a responsibility and a duty to assist with non-English learners. He added reading specialist Rachael Schroeder was used last year to try and assist, along with the translating services of Spanish teacher Dianna Rogers.
Hay stated she would like to see more high school Spanish students being utilized to help fill the need as it benefits all parties involved.
Steffes asked if the district is required to have the position and Francois stated he is not sure but all surrounding districts have them, including Darlington who has 2.5 people to fill this need. He added the district has ignored these students and made them a group of kids not being serviced. “We want all of our students to be successful. If we think we can do it in house, we are failing miserably. This is a bold step, but it’s right for our district,” Francois said.
Dolphin asked, even with the projected decrease in state aid, can the district fund this new position. Francois said yes, due to reductions in other areas such as capital expenditures and technology.
Hay said she agreed with the need but thought the salary was too high. Francois said the applicant is a tenured teacher and there is not a large pool of applicants.
Kinch commented he believed the students should have to learn English.
These students’ scores are factored into the district’s overall test scores. Francois said it is difficult to determine how intelligent these students are when the district can’t communicate with them.
Wainwright added an ELL teacher wouldn’t just work with students—he/she would also work with staff so they can teach these students better in their native language.
Voting in favor of the hire was Stephenson with Basting, Dolphin, Hay, Kinch, Lindsey, and Steffes voting no.
–In closed session, the board voted to accept the retirement of Judy Bennett, high school English teacher, 6-0-1.
–Under items for information and discussion, the Board Plan of Improvement was discussed that deals with Parliamentary Procedures.
According to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Roberts Rules of Order as it applies to small boards (less than 12) states that impartiality is more challenging with small boards and therefore motions, discussions, and voting are permitted by the board chair (president). The board also does not need to second motions, does not need to have a motion before a discussion, and a motion to close or limit debate generally should not be entertained.
Board President Steffes said, based on this language, he will vote on all matters. Stephenson commended this rule being called out so implementing it can be consistent. Kinch argued, according to the publication of Roberts Rules of Order that he possessed, the president should only vote if his vote matters in the final outcome and urged the matter to be investigated further.
–As required by law, the annual Seclusion and Restraint Report was presented. Six incidents were reported this past year, two that involved restraint. Parents are notified when these occur.
–There was a first reading of an update to the Webpage/Social Media policy. No content is proposed for change, just an editorial revision replacing the word Administrator with Communications Director throughout.
–Discussion took place, along with a vote, on implementing the 210 plan for other grades besides seniors. Until a few years ago, all high school students were eligible for the 210 plan. The 210 plan is designed to improve attendance, especially in the fourth quarter. Students who have required attendance as dictated by the plan would be exempt from taking final exams at the end of the school year.
High school principal Mitch Wainwright argued the 210 plan improves attendance in the fourth quarter and would like to see it for all high school grade levels, not just seniors. He brought attendance data for this past school year which showed a decrease in attendance from the third to fourth quarters for the sophomores and juniors and an increase for the freshmen and seniors. Hay argued that having finals is a motivator and this data does not support the 210 plan. Stephenson said she had heard some concern that, if the 210 plan was school wide, it is possible a student could go their entire high school career without taking a final and wondered about their preparedness for college final exams.
A motion was made to maintain the status quo, which is the 210 plan only for seniors. That motion passed with all in favor except Basting.
–Also up for action was an exemption to the Foreign Exchange Students policy. Clark Bennett was present and told of the good experiences he has had hosting students and stated he would hate to see a cap put on how many the school could hold. He did say, however, that homes that have other school aged children are often the best fit to host a foreign exchange student as there is already an established connection to the school. Wainwright echoed that statement and wished he would know the host family before saying yes or no to a student.
There were some concerns brought up regarding foreign exchange students. The question was asked if the district receives state aid for the students, and it was determined it does. Wainwright added, however, he feels it is strange that these students are required to take state mandated tests and then their scores are included in the district’s overall data. Athletic Director Vickie Dahl brought up that sometimes, having extra kids hurts for WIAA postseason divisional placement.
Lindsey pointed out the policy hasn’t been revised since 2001, but clearly exceptions have been made through the years to allow more than two students a year, as well as admitting them past the six month deadline, so he feels that is fine in this case as well.
The board voted unanimously to leave the policy as is and accept the exemption requested from Bennett for this coming school year.
–The District recommends placing $75,000 of unused expenditure into Fund 46, a trust fund for long-term capital expenditures. The balance of unused expenditures (roughly $25,000) would be placed into fund balance.
A transfer to Fund 46 is state aid eligible whereas a transfer to Fund 10 balance is not. A transfer to Fund 46 must be made prior to July 31 in order to be expensed to the 14-15 fiscal year, therefore counting as year one of a five-year wait period prior to being able to access Fund 46.
Francois reported that District Bookkeeper, Marsha Kjelland, felt comfortable with these numbers and the board unanimously approved the Fund 46 Disbursement.
–The board approved Budget Amendments unanimously but Basting said he would like to see the district cut back on how many substitutes are needed for teachers that attend conferences as he feels the number one priority should be having the teachers in the classrooms. Kinch followed up by saying he believes the district spends too much on mileage reimbursement as well.
–The next regularly scheduled board meeting is set for August 10 at 6:30 pm.