At Monday night’s School Board meeting, Superintendent Luke Francois spent time discussing with the Board and public Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal and what the possible implications would be for the Mineral Point School District. (Continue after the video for more article text).

These are detailed in Francois’ report here:

He was quick to point out that, by state statute, the State is required to approve a biennial budget sometime between July and October, so he encouraged people to have patience as the District works out multiple budget scenarios that will be contingent upon the final state budget.

The Board also viewed the first draft of an infographic that is designed to break down the complex school funding issue into a more digestible format for stakeholders to improve understanding and dialogue.

(Go to the 36 minute mark of the video.)

Other business:

— The Board approved the bills payable and credit card statement with members Jeff Basting and Glenn Kinch abstaining.

Board member Lisa Hay wanted to make sure the $60,000 for the stadium bleachers was covered by private donations, and Francois confirmed it is and stated there is an account that shows revenue and expenditures for the Stadium Project that is kept by district bookkeeper, Marsha Kjelland, that can be easily provided for transparency.

Hay also commented on the Dependable Solutions bill. That company provides the District with computer and technology service and support. She wondered if it would make more sense to have someone on staff in Mineral Point providing these services. Board member Larry Steffes said he would like to see during the budget process what an in-house person would cost vs. contracting this service.

Basting asked where the food service numbers from Taher are sitting this time of year. Francois stated he met with Taher and the numbers of meals served are a little behind the projections, but the company is not concerned at this time, and he will bring the latest numbers before the Board at an upcoming meeting. (This discussion begins the video).

–The Board unanimously approved a 2018 summer trip to Costa Rica for students who have had at least two years of Spanish classes.

Teacher Jenny Wahlin was on hand and said last year she used this same travel company, out of Green Bay, to take kids to Mexico, sharing some of the students’ personal testimonials about the great experience.

The trip would come at no cost to the District, with the students paying for their way with fundraising. Wahlin stated the trip would include a rainforest, farm to table experiences, and possess a humanitarian angle. (Go to the 26 minute, 30 second mark of the video).

–In response to recent events, the District has convened a School Safety Committee to study and make recommendations to the Board for procedures and protocols for students, families, and guests entering the building during the school day, special events, and after school events.

A call for volunteers was sent out and the first meeting is scheduled to take place Monday, February 27 at 4:30 pm.

(Go to the one hour, 11 minute, 32 second mark of the video).

–Francois, School Board member Julie Stephenson, and Communications Director Joelle Doye shared a report out from the State Education Convention they attended in Milwaukee in January, including sharing a video from one of the keynote speakers on the importance of trust in any organization, including schools and on school boards.

Francois also added that he presented at the convention, along with other area superintendents, on the BOOST telepresence consortium, which is increasing dual credit (high school and college) opportunities for students in the Mineral Point School District.

(Go to the one hour, 16 minute, 15 second mark of the video).

–The Board saw several first drafts of potential policy revisions. Francois stated that it’s time to go through and take a look at some policies that haven’t been updated in 25 years, just to make sure they are consistent with current DPI rules, state statutes, and the District’s mission and vision. All of the policies will be back before the Board at a later date for a vote.

(Go to the one hour, 35 minute, 30 second mark of the video).

–Back for a second reading and a vote before the Board was a policy change to reduce the threshold for cold temperatures that would close schools using more lenient temperatures. The policy before the Board would close school when air temperatures reach 20 below zero (former policy stated 25 below), or when wind chill reached 30 degrees below zero (former policy stated 35 below).

Francois stated he asked area districts and they are all over the map for their policies on this topic.

A motion to leave the policy as is failed with Larry Dolphin, Kinch, and Steffes voting yes and Hay, Stephenson, Basting, and Andy Busch voting no.

More discussion continued and a new motion was made to change the policy to the new recommendations and that passed with all but Steffes voting yes. Steffes stated he feels the Board is making the wrong decision with this and should want kids in school more, not less.

(Go to the one hour, 49 minute, 30 second mark of the video).

–There is potential support circulating at the state level to repeal the September 1 school start date to allow districts more flexibility on their school year calendar.

Francois stated multiple boards in the area have already adopted this resolution, but tourist areas in the state such as Wisconsin Dells have lobbied against it.

Steffes and Busch both commented they want local control on this issue and do not think the state should be dictating when districts can begin school. Hay stated she was concerned with increased competitiveness among districts wanting to start earlier and earlier, should the September 1 date be repealed.

A motion was made to pass the resolution in support to repeal existing state statutes restricting the school start date with Basting and Hay voting no.

The district will be kept up to date on the latest happenings at the state level on this issue.

The resolution is available here:

(Go to the two hour, one minute mark of the video).

–Discussion surrounding the long-term facilities plan (specifically roof repair and the tech ed dust collector repair).

Gary McGuire was on hand to answer questions about the roof and Steffes instructed him to work with Roger Palzkill, maintenance director, to obtain a list of priorities.

Specifications would then be crafted to fix leaks at the middle/high school roof, and the specifics would drive competitive bid solicitation.

Francois stated he would also like to know the guarantee or warranty of any bid proposal.

The Buildings & Grounds Committee will meet in the coming weeks to further discuss this issue.

(Go to the two hour, eight minute mark of the video).

–An employee handbook update was approved with Hay voting no.

This update further defines the workday for staff and adds an additional paragraph for staff, which main effects the middle/high school staff regarding a prep and professional periods. The new language is here:

(Go to the two hour, 26 minute mark of the video).

–The Board unanimously approved a resolution to support a state bill designating cheese as the official state dairy product. The bill’s inception originated from the 2016-17 4th grade class at Mineral Point and was sparked by a visit from Howard Marklein and Todd Novak.

(Go to the two hour, 32 minute, 50 second mark of the video).

–The meeting concluded with Francois’ Superintendent’s Report with a few notes: The Alternative Program will be featured in an upcoming article by the Wisconsin State Journal; The District is planning to host the annual School Board Candidate Forum Wednesday, March 15 at 7 pm. Voters are encouraged to attend to ask questions of the candidates. Stay tuned for more information.

–The next regularly scheduled Board meeting is set for Monday, March 13 at 6:30 pm.