Cummins receives the WASDA Child Advocacy Award.

Kiwanis receives the WASDA Child Advocacy Award.

Retiring Board member Matt Lindsey is honored.

Much of Monday night’s School Board meeting dealt with staffing recommendations for the 2016-17 school year, specifically in two areas: 7th grade and music. (Please scroll past the video for more article text.)

For the 7th grade, the current reality is as follows:

62 students are moving from 6th grade to 7th grade.

  • Two 7th grade sections find 31 students per class. Three sections find 21 students/class.
  • This class is 45% proficient in math and 66% proficient in English/Language Arts (lowest).
  • Physical Education classes would have 62 students in a gym at one time.
  • Business Education/Technical Education/Art classes do not have the space/stations/computers/resources for 31 in a classroom.
  • Current staffing levels are not sufficient to address the intervention and remediation needs of these students.
  • Math and ELA currently have Tier II interventions only. (No Tier III support).

The Administrative Team’s recommendation to improve student learning was

  • Increase 1.0 FTE Teacher for core subjects (ELA, Reading, Math), Tier III supports, and re-deliver instructional coaching (lost after last year). Vision – after two years the teacher would support full-time Tier III supports K- 8 and instructional coaching Pre-K-12.

Two alternatives the Admin Team presented to the Board, but did not recommend:

  1. Reallocate existing staff to cover seventh grade courses. This would offer no instructional coaching or Tier III supports.
  2. Relocate fifth grade to the middle/high school. This would offer no instructional coaching. Tier III supports would be available on a limited basis. Maximum disruption would be caused to students and staff involved in the move.

Board President Larry Steffes said he felt the District did not need to add a full-time employee to assist at the 7th grade level, but would like to see additional supports for students struggling in math and language proficiency.

Superintendent Luke Francois recognized the success on recent state assessments, but said if the District wants to continue this trend of growth, it needs to add supports.

Steffes added he felt three 6th grade teachers for next year is too many and would like to see staff shift to cover 7th grade.

Francois said certifications do not allow this, except for one teacher, and she has expressed no interest in moving to 7th grade.

Middle school principal Vickie Dahl added next year’s 7th graders not only have challenges academically, but also behaviorally and emotionally.

6th grade teachers Deb Soper and Helen Klaas said they have seen the benefits of having three teachers in the 6th grade and feel having three sections is vital to keep testing numbers up and seeing continued growth with students.

Francois cautioned the Board on breaking apart a model that got the District to a high level of success. Rather, he urged them to invest more in it.

Several board members expressed concern about the seemingly constant addition of staff each year with flat or declining enrollment and did not know if retaining a new hire would be feasible long-term, based on budget projections.

A motion to approve a 1.0 FTE addition failed 4-3 with Julie Stephenson, Jeff Basting, and Lisa Hay voting yes and Larry Dolphin, Glenn Kinch, Matt Lindsey, and Larry Steffes voting no.

The Admin Team will now proceed with Alternative #1, reallocating existing middle/high school staff to cover 7th grade courses.

The next staffing discussion centered around the music department.

The current reality of the music department is as follows:

Matt Nevers is slated to teach 33 band students grades 9-12 and 6 students in Music and Culture for 16-17. Kevin Cooley is slated to teach an overload with grades 6-8 band, (possible grades 5-8 band next year) grades 6-12 choir, and general music comprising 155 students. Jeff David grades K-5 has 310 students with additional numbers in 5th grade choir.

The Administrative Team initially put before the Board the following recommendation for discussion:

3.1 FTE : Teacher A moves to .75 FTE teaching 9-12 band. Teacher B remains at 1.0 FTE teaching 5-8 band. Either Teacher A or Teacher B will need to teach general music. New Teacher C hired at .35 FTE grades 6-12 Choir (shared contract with Iowa-Grant). Estimated salary, benefits, mileage not to exceed $26,500 of new Teacher C. David remains 1.0 FTE grades K-5 general music and choir.

Pros of this include: 6th band and grades 7-8th band (recommended by music). 6th choir and grades 7-8th choir (recommended by music). Grow music to 3.35 FTE when numbers return to the high school.

This scenario had opposition from several music supporters present at the meeting, including teacher Matt Nevers who stated he believed creating two part time positions would force a revolving door of teachers in these roles as very few candidates are looking for part time employment and would move on if full time opportunities became available elsewhere.

The Admin Team also then put before the Board another recommendation consisting of: 3.0 FTE: Nevers remains at 1.0 FTE teaching 5th grade band and 9-12 band; CAPP Music and Culture; and adding CAPP Music Theory and adds 6th grade general music – (increases an estimated 50-75 students to caseload). Cooley remains at 1.0 FTE teaching 6-8 band; 6-12 choir.

Pros of this include: Nevers receives general music certification creating additional flexibility in staffing without cost to the district.

Noted cons include: Forces grades 6-8 to combine choir and possibly band (preference is grade 6, and grade 7- 8 choir). Creates scheduling challenges.

Kinch applauded Nevers for his willingness to go back to school to obtain his general music certification and the Board directed the Admin Team to keep the music staffing at 3.0 FTE with the duty changes noted above.

— After much discussion, the Board approved the 2016-17 staff compensation model as follows:

For exempt staff with individual contracts:

  1. The budget forecast used an assumption of salaries increasing 1.5%.
  2. Total of salaries in 2015-2016 was $3,404,395.
  3. The consumer price index CPI for the 2015-2016 school year is .12%.
  4. Applying CPI to the base total salaries in 2016-2017 school year would be $3,408,481.  (A difference of $4,085 or .12%.)
  5. In addition to CPI applying steps to only staff on the salary schedule would be $3,473,301. (A difference of $68,905 or 2.02%)
  6. In addition to CPI and steps, applying lanes to staff that have attained the education would be $3,496,361.  (A difference of $91,965 or 2.70%).

Compensation at the lane level would freeze the following expenditures:

$0 for credit reimbursement

$0 increase for additive (extra duty) contracts

$0 supplemental pay for teachers that received a distinguished summary

$0 supplemental pay for teachers that are National Board Certified

The discussion centered around whether the District had the available resources to fund the CPI, steps, and lanes increase. Francois stated he believes the District can fund steps and lanes this year.

Five staff members would be impacted by the lanes increase due to obtaining their Master’s Degree and were, essentially, promised a pay increase.

Basting stated he agreed with Francois in that the District has the money at this point, even though it might not a year or two from now, and that the staff has performed very well and promises were made the Board should keep.

Stephenson added she supports what is most impactful for students and salary is tied to that.

Newly elected Board member Andy Busch, who will begin service on April 25, added that the District has high test scores and teachers who are doing their jobs and it might be difficult to retain teachers if the District makes promises it doesn’t fulfill to its employees.

The Board approved a CPI, steps, and lanes increase for exempt staff with individual contracts by a 5-1-1 vote with Lindsey, Stephenson, Hay, and Kinch voting yes, Steffes voting no, and Dolphin abstaining.

For non-exempt staff without individual contracts:

  1. Total wages in 2015-2016 was $551,161.52
  2. CPI was applied to the salary schedule.
  3. Staff were advanced $.20 on the salary schedule.  
  4. Total wages in 2016-2017 would be $558,915.27  (A difference of $7,753.75 or a 1.41% increase)

The Board approved a CPI and steps increase for non-exempt staff without individual contracts by a 6-1 vote with Kinch voting no.

— An item for action was that of middle school Chromebooks.

Francois stated that a one-to-one environment at the middle school is necessary to deploy blended learning strategies to include the use of online tutorials in Apex, a new digital curriculum.  The District recommends the purchase of 100 Chromebooks to fill existing carts and provide for a one-to-one environment in grades 6-8 where the Chromebooks would remain at school.  Chromebooks cost $250 each and management licenses cost $30 each.  Total investment is $28,000.

Hay stated she was confused as to why the item was back on the agenda after the request last month was reduced from 175 with 60 being approved.

Basting stated he would rather see the money go into teachers than Chromebooks.

Dahl mentioned the computer lab, as well as the laptop cart, will not be receiving updates due to the machines being outdated, so there is a potential to lose computer access.

Board president Steffes stated he would like to learn more about the Apex learning program, which is his understanding of the need for more Chromebooks. The item was tabled until more final budget numbers can be obtained.

— The Board held a recognition portion to begin the evening.

The Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators recognized Cummins Emission Solutions and the Mineral Point Kiwanis Club as child advocates and certificates were presented to members of each group.

State FFA qualifiers were recognized as follows: Scott Pittz, Speech; Livestock Judging Team: Morgan Fitzsimmons, Boone Schmitz, Scott Pittz, and Martina Steffes; Vet Science Team: Tommie Loken, Tea Bossert, Jake Steffes, and Katie Fitzsimmons; Wildlife Team: Brady Roberts, Jacob Moellers, Jacob Sullivan, and Austin Olson.

State qualifier middle school Cooking Club: Natalie Chitwood, Laney Finkelmeyer, Jaden Kieler, and Florencio Torres.

SWAL math gold medalists: Brady Palzkill, Abby Shannon, David Kelm, Cameron Wiegman, Grant Bossert, Nick DuBois, Owen Stephenson, Wes Berget, Will Straka, Morgan Vondra, and Lily Wong.

2nd place State Odyssey of the Mind team: Emily Graber, Keira Schrank, Caleb Wersal, Ella Wilson, Hope Wilson, and Rita Wilson.

Retiring Board member Matt Lindsey began his service in 2010. As a father of three and a coach of many in Mineral Point Schools, being involved with the District’s decision making team has been very much appreciated by staff, administration, and our Community. Matt served as President for two years and has contributed much over his two terms – six years of service – as a member of the Board of Education.

— Unanimously approved the resignation of Laurie Heimsoth as elementary school Gifted & Talented Coordinator.

— As an item for information and discussion, the Board took a look at where the District is in its budget development process for the 2016-17 school year.

Francois reported that budget not used this year will pre-purchase technology and instructional materials for next year.  It is anticipated that a small portion of fund balance may be utilized to cover revenue shortfall.  

Budget Requests for the 16-17 school year were submitted to building principals and building allocations distributed. Building budgets will be prioritized by building principals. Capital project budget remains frozen at $0 pending results from the Nexus long-term facilities study (due in June).

— Board members Lisa Hay, Larry Steffes, and Larry Dolphin recently visited the work of PLC teams on Wednesday afternoons. All three reported they saw staff working very hard and there is a lot of really good work going on around collaboration for increased student achievement.

— Francois shared a presentation from Guard Safe, which uses compressed air guns to shoot a powder substance at school intruders that could be used as a deterrent in a school attack until emergency personnel can arrive. Several board members expressed an interest in learning more and plan to attend a presentation in Potosi later this week.

— Mineral Point uses passenger vans regularly to transport smaller groups of students rather than contracting for service with a full school bus.  One passenger van is currently a 2004 with 122,000 miles.  Enterprise has for sale a 2014 Ford E350 Passenger XLT Extended Van for sale with 35,277 miles at a no haggle sale price of $22,798.

The Board approved the purchase of the van by a 5-2 vote with Hay and Stephenson voting no.

— Francois shared with the Board the results from the election Tuesday, April 5. Andy Busch led all candidates with 1,103 votes while Steffes (incumbent) took second with 1060 votes. Glen P. Pilling came in third with 713 votes.

— Following Executive Session, the board unanimously approved a salary increase for Instructional Assistant Tracy Wiegel commencing with the 2016-17 school year. Her salary will be $13.76 per hour. 

— Note: Monday night, the Platteville School Board voted to hire Brad Brogley as Director of Pupil Services, effective with the start of the 2016-17 school year. Brogley is the current Mineral Point Elementary School Principal, District Assessment Coordinator, and ELL Coordinator. The Mineral Point School Board will hold an upcoming meeting to officially accept Brogley’s resignation and discuss the future of the position. Watch for a meeting notice forthcoming.