The Mineral Point School Board began its regular monthly meeting Monday with a celebration of recent student successes. (Scroll past the video for more article text)

Gold medal winners in the SWAL math contest, the State Odyssey of the Mind team, State place winners in the Delta Kappa Gamma literary contest, and State FFA qualifiers were honored.

This is a busy time of year for state recognitions, so the Board will be welcoming more students next month in various disciplines. (This portion of the meeting begins the video)

Other business:

— The Board approved the credit card statement and bills payable with Andy Busch, Larry Dolphin, Lisa Hay, Julie Stephenson, and Larry Steffes voting yes, Jeff Basting abstaining, and Glenn Kinch absent. (Go to the 16 minute mark)

— The Board unanimously approved the suggested budget amendments, which cover deficits in accounts and corrects the flow through grant. These amendments need to be approved for DPI reporting, a standard procedure districts across the state are doing at this time of year. (Go to the 17 minute mark)

— The Board unanimously approved a preliminary notice of non-renewal for Kelli Ritchie, 1.0 FTE Interpreter, effective at the end of the 2016-17 school year. This also came with a letter of intent to re-hire Mrs. Ritchie, should an anticipated student move into the district needing her services. (Go to the 18 minute mark)

— The District discussed the reassignment of Pam Anderson. Ms. Anderson wishes to retire from her 1st grade teaching duties, but be reassigned to an instructional assistant position, which would also support literacy efforts in grades kindergarten through 3rd.

Superintendent Luke Francois said if the Board approves the reassignment of Ms. Anderson, the District would then post a kindergarten position, making three sections of kindergarten instead of this year’s two sections, due to larger numbers next year. 1st grade would then drop from three sections this year to 2.4 next year (with a proposed reallocation of part of Kimberly Diefenbach’s interventionist duties). He added this staffing model would help to support the District’s goal of 100% literacy proficiency.

The Board moved this staffing item involving Ms. Anderson to closed session. Afterwards, they unanimously approved the reassignment of Ms. Anderson to an instructional assistant for the 2017-18 school year. (Go to the 21 minute mark)

— The Board heard a report from Dependable Solutions CEO, Joe Ruskey. Mr. Ruskey stated that all last school year, his company responded to 1,660 help tickets for Mineral Point. This year to date so far, 2,022 tickets have been submitted.

He stated however that the District is using more technology this year than last year, so that naturally will lead to more problems. He added that the company works with 25 other districts and Mineral Point is a leader in technology.

There has been some discussion by the Board to look into the possibility of hiring an IT person and keeping them in-house, versus contracting the services.

Ruskey stated that there are benefits to that, but also drawbacks. He mentioned there is a huge demand for technology people, and it’s only growing, stating in the last few months he’s increased salaries 20%, along with benefits. The average person with no experience that he hires now makes $45,000.

He added the company is committed to continue to work on resolving the issues the District is facing with technology and believes they are on the right track with some possible solutions being tested currently. (Go to the 27 minute mark)

— The Board heard an update regarding the latest work of the Safety Committee, which included a brief rundown on the committee’s thoughts as to what its priorities should be. That list is viewable here:

(Go to the 44 minute, 20 second mark)

— Parent Kim Ellingson addressed the Board regarding its transportation policy. Francois reported that Ellingson recently transitioned to a new residence within 1.5 miles of the school. The current policy states that the District does not pick up or drop off students on a bus within this radius, unless it is deemed a hazardous zone by the county, which this area is not.

She expressed her concerns with the traffic flow, and how, although it is not officially a hazardous area by the county’s standards, there are still potential problems with the walking route.

Francois added he has spoken to Transportation Director, Todd Schmitz, and Schmitz stated that it starts to go down a slippery slope if the rules are bent for some situations and not others.

If the Board wished to change the 1.5 mile radius, it would need to change its policy.

The matter was referred to an Operational Committee meeting for further discussion. (Go to the 47 minute mark)

— The Board viewed first drafts of several policies for review. The Board is in the process of reviewing and updating policies as needed to reflect current state and federal statutes. (Go to the one hour, two minute mark)

— The Board reviewed a first draft of an infographic from Susan Webb, designed to help the Board and public understand and explain complex school finances, and items related to it. The infographic, once finalized, will be available and shared with the public. (Go to the one hour, five minute, 30 second mark)

— Maintenance Director Roger Palzkill spoke to the Board regarding several items for action.

The Board unanimously approved the SWEEP agreement. This is an agreement with 12 schools to jointly own equipment to save on costs, versus each district needing to rent their own.

Palzkill presented the Board with several options to patch and fill potholes in the middle/high school lots. He received bids from Midwest Sealcoat in Dodgeville and the Board unanimously approved three projects in the amounts of $5,000; $6,485; and the basketball court, which would be much less than $2,575.

The Board also unanimously approved a tractor replacement for mowing purposes. Palzkill stated the District used to trade in its tractor every two years before the warranty expired. The current tractor is now eight years old and is needing many costly repairs. He also looked to see what it would cost to contract the service, and that was more than buying a new tractor. With the trade in of the old tractor, the new price would be $9,500.

The Board unanimously approved asbestos tile replacement at the elementary. The proposed project would complete three more rooms, plus one small office area.

Four companies were looked at to purchase a new dust collector system for the tech ed room. The District is recommending the low bid of the Donaldson system of $57,729.70.

Board member Busch stated he would like to see the dust collector system included in a roof project, along with another small project like the dishwasher, because he believes the District needs a Project Manager overseeing the work to make sure all rules and regulations are followed. He suggested bringing Nexus back, now that the project costs have significantly decreased, and then the District would see something for the walk away fee it paid Nexus. He was also concerned that Palzkill is devoting too many man hours to this project, questioning who is the District’s maintenance manager if he’s also acting as the engineer.

Hay stated that if the District were to go with what Busch proposes, Performance Contracts need to be approved in the fall in order to qualify for the Energy Efficiency Revenue Limit Exemption, because that is the time of the year where the Board certifies the levy. That means the work could not be completed at this time.

Francois mentioned Nexus would be willing to front the money now to begin the project with the guarantee that the District would approve the performance contract in the fall.

All voted in favor of purchasing the dust collector for the above amount except Busch. (Go to the one hour, 16 minute, 15 second mark)

— The Board discussed the CESA #3 2017-18 contract for services. Francois stated that next year’s proposed total is $24,273, which is down from near $80,000 upon his arrival to the District six years ago.

Hay asked if any schools around the state opt out of CESA services. Francois said that some larger districts are able to not use the services because they have a large enough in-house staff to provide those services.

The contract was approved with all but Steffes voting yes. (Go to the one hour, 49 minute mark)

— The Board unanimously approved the updates to two policies: Filling Board Vacancies and Officers of the Board. (Go to the one hour, 59 minute mark)

— In his Superintendent’s Report, Francois gave a brief budget update and says things are still uncertain at the State level, which makes budgeting at the local level challenging. He will be looking at staffing scenarios, and anticipates a CPI salary increase. He did add that health insurance projections have come back very favorably with a 0% increase projected.

Francois also thanked Glenn Kinch for his service on the Board as this was to be his last meeting. He also thanked Mike Thousand for running for School Board. Basting and Kelly Gundlach will take their oaths of office in the coming weeks.

— The next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Monday, May 8.