At Monday’s School Board meeting, the Board re-visited the idea of having an Elementary Design Workshop to gather community input regarding capacity and accessibility issues with the building. (Scroll past the video for more text)

At last month’s meeting the voted down the idea by a 4-3 vote.

Shortly after, the Operations Committee convened to study the matter further.

Co-chairs of the Elementary School Planning Committee, Maggie Tucker and Leah McDonald, were present Monday night to update the Board on the committee’s work to date, again stressing the importance of having community input moving forward with the process.

The committee’s charge is to provide a recommendation to the Board at the May meeting regarding a solution for capacity and accessibility at the elementary.

Board member Kelly Gundlach stated she was able to obtain more information about the proposed design workshop during the Operations Committee meeting and came to the conclusion that, without having input from the public, when it comes time to make a decision on the committee’s proposals, she would be unable to make a good decision.

Board president Larry Steffes stated he had concerns about the need for a two day event, but can back the proposal now that there has been some negotiation on the cost.

One architect on site per day has been eliminated, dropping the fee from $13,400 to $11,950.

The design workshop was approved by a 6-1 vote with Larry Dolphin voting no.

The workshop will be held Tuesday, March 20 and Wednesday, March 21 from 9 am – 7:30 pm in the elementary library. The community is encouraged to stop by anytime.

For more details:

Gundlach also shared additional follow-up from the Operations Committee during this time, stressing the importance of school safety.

“I don’t think we can no longer say we don’t have money for safety,” she said.

Board member Julie Stephenson stated the Board has never said it doesn’t prioritize safety.

Steffes said there are some no-cost and inexpensive things the Board could be doing to make schools safer.

Gundlach mentioned a new door stop device made by a Wisconsin student she suggest the district look into. Superintendent Luke Francois stated the district has been working with the MPHS tech ed department to try and fabricate one on site, but also cautioned it’s “prudent to stay in front of all ideas right now.”

Board member Lisa Hay stated she would like to see a monthly safety report at board meetings to show families what the district is doing with regards to safety.

(Go to the 17 minute, 30 second mark of the video)

Other business:

— The meeting began with recognitions of State Wrestling, State Gymnastics, and State Mock Trial participants.

— The elementary principal, in conjunction with the superintendent, recommended a reduction in force for the elementary school to the school board.

A reduction in force means reducing a position (full non-renewal); it does not necessarily mean a reduction in staffing levels. The recommendation was based on the smallest enrollment of K-12 grade levels entering kindergarten next year coupled with a report summary on enrollment trends, conducted by the Applied Population Lab, suggesting steady to slightly declining 4K-12 enrollment in the Mineral Point School District in the near term.  

The District recommended to the Board a single reduction in force (one full-time non-renewal) from the elementary school grades Pre-K through 5.

The class size entering kindergarten next year is projected at 40. With two teachers, there would be 20 students per class. With three teachers (as staffing levels are currently), there would be 13 students in two sections, and 14 in another.

The approximate cost avoidance would be $65,000. Francois stated this money could be reallocated in other ways to align with the district’s strategic plan–perhaps a social worker, police liaison in the elementary, a computer science teacher, etc.

He also advised the Board to keep in mind that it is possible the district will have to hire two separate people to fill the Director of Special Education/School Psychologist position because finding a qualified candidate with dual licensure is difficult.

Hay stated she could not support the proposed reduction in force because the issue didn’t sound like a long term problem and added 20 students per class is also higher than the district’s policy.

Stephenson cautioned the Board needs to be consistent on the data its using to make decisions such as these.

Busch stated he appreciated administration bringing this option to the table, even though he doesn’t support it. “This isn’t easy for administration, and it doesn’t play well with staff, but it’s the information and the options we need,” he said.

A motion was made to not approve the proposed reduction in force. This passed 5-2 with Dolphin and Steffes voting against.

(Go to the one hour, 27 minute mark)

— Kraemer Brothers received bid proposals for the MS/HS re-roofing project and following conducted a summary review of the plans.  Kraemer Brothers in conjunction with FEH Design recommended Midwest Roofing of Dodgeville as the contractor.

Because the bids were competitive and came in under the maximum the Board approved of $500,000, the Board voted unanimously to do some additional small items with the total cost still coming in under max bid at $497,800.

(Go to the one hour, 50 minute mark)

— The Board approved the 2018-19 school calendar, which was the option most popular with staff and families surveyed. It is the calendar that includes a full week of spring break and ends classes on May 31. It can be viewed here:

The vote was in favor of this option with Hay and Busch voting no. Stephenson had left the meeting.

(Go to the two hour, three minute, 45 second mark)

— The Elementary School Planning Committee wished to have more reliable data about future enrollment in the district, so a study was conducted by the Applied Population Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The accuracy of the study projects about five years out. Mineral Point enrollment is expected to remain steady, or slightly decline, over the next five years.

The full report is here:

(Go to the 43 minute mark)

— Francois updated the Board on a few revised budget assumptions since the last meeting.

Overall full time enrollment for the district is up 11 students from the September to January counts.

The Governor signed into law on Monday an additional Sparsity Aid bill, which equals an additional $100 per student.

The district is also looking at an average salary increase of 3% for next year while health benefit increases have come back at a projected 0% increase.

All of these numbers are important when discussing the budget development timeline.

(Go to the 47 minute, 45 second mark)

— The Board discussed the merits of potentially implementing a Studer Education program.

This idea came from Gundlach’s attendance at a session at the Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ State Education Conference in Milwaukee in January.

She listened to testimonial from the School District of Menomonee Falls.

Studer Education would provide wraparound leadership development, stakeholder surveys, executive coaching, and tools and resources to facilitate leaders’ planning and execution of strategic actions through a continuous improvement approach to develop, refine and achieve priority district goals defined by the district in alignment with the strategic plan.

Francois investigated the program and learned there is no cost break for a small, rural school and the fee would be $38,000 annually with a minimum of a three year commitment.

Gundlach acknowledged the high cost and suggest the district look at partnering with CESA 3 or neighboring schools. She also suggested Board members attend a two day program in Menomonee Falls in the fall to better understand the program.

(Go to the 54 minute mark)

— The strategic plan has foci surrounding board and community relations and communications.  Action plans recently crafted at the professional development session were shared with the Board, along with a request for the Board to consider community listening sessions.

Francois stated he knows of a district where its board holds listening sessions with staff prior to board meetings.

Hay suggested each listening session might be better served by having a topic (school safety, special education, etc) in order for the discussion to stay on track.

Board member Andy Busch suggested the listening sessions could be scheduled during the May meeting, which will be the first meeting with the new Board following the April 3 election.

(Go to the one hour, ten minute mark)

— The Board took action on several policies such as wellness, professional development, part time open enrollment, technical college course options, and early college credit program.

(Go to the two hour, five minute mark)

— The Board approved the credit card statement and bills payable by a 5-0-1 vote with Basting abstaining and Stephenson absent.

(Go to the two hour, 22 minute, 30 second mark)

— The Board held a special meeting March 6 to approve a resolution to support the planning that would convert the current Options in Education into a charter school. The resolution was needed so the district could continue with a grant application process. Minutes from that meeting can be found:

— The next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Monday, April 9 at 6:30 pm.