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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Coleman School Board Hears Sports, Mask Info

Issue Date: September 23, 2020

After the Consent Items were briefly discussed, the floor was open to the public. A mother of five Coleman students spoke up about how pleased she is with the district's attention to safety. She mentioned that the teachers are doing an excellent job and each of her children are having little difficulty with the homework expectations. She commended the Board and the faculty.

Then a teacher stood up and thanked the Board for prioritizing safety. She mentioned that a few months ago, she was concerned, but with school in session, she feels safe coming to work. 

Yvette Marshall, the elementary/middle school principal, gave her report, which entailed an update on the first month of school. The bussing system has been successful. Bieber Bussing is staggering drop-off times and only one bus-load of children are released at a time. Throughout the day, elementary students stay within their homeroom cohort, with classes and meals.

Middle school students have been on a Blended format, where they come to school two days of the week and learn online the remaining three. The technology and block schedules seem to be working quite well. Since students only come in twice a week, the class sizes have been smaller. With the block schedule, students have fewer classes, so they can spend more time on the class at hand. Teachers have been working hard at making this adjustment easy for everyone.

For online learners, Acellus or Wisconsin eSchool Network are their curriculums. Michelle Collins is the online elementary teacher and Amy Wagner is the online middle school teacher. The Coleman school district asks that "online families please keep up the communication with the teachers so we are aware of any concerns. Your input is incredibly valuable!"

School pictures were taken on September 8 and 10 and retakes will be on October 27 and 29. 

Doug Polomis gave the high school report. He said that the "biggest challenge throughout the year is going to be finding substitutes when teachers are out of the classroom." He mentioned that many schools have already or will shut down for multiple weeks because of the shortage and he hopes Coleman isn't one of them. Nine substitute teachers have committed to substituting for Coleman, one of which has their contingencies. To put this in perspective, last year there were twenty-nine substitute teachers for the Coleman School district. Many schools are even competing for the available teachers.

In terms of sports, Polomis says "our falls sports season has gotten underway last week with volleyball and cross country having events." The football team will have their first game on Sept. 25 against Oconto Falls. At the next meeting, Polomis will go over the Pupil Membership Count because he won't have an accurate number until Oct. 2. Polomis as well as other staff members have recently completed the required Title IX training and the school's website was updated with information for parental access. He also said that he and Lorie Karban, the administrative assistant, will be meeting with their NEOLA representative shortly to go over the next group of policy changes, which will need to be discussed at a scheduled Policy Committee Meeting. 

For the referendum update, Polomis said that locker rooms are done, new doors will be installed soon, and the overall remodel is going very well. 

Policy 5200 refers to student attendance and it was put on the agenda for revision. With online students, attendance can easily become tricky, but regular attendance is still crucial to a student's success. The revision on Policy 5200 regarded the consequences and exceptions for online learners. Typically, new policies and revisions to policies must be brought before the Policy Committee, but with time in mind, the decision to revise would be made at the Regular Board Meeting. The policy revision was approved.

The next agenda item was what the Coleman School District should do after the mask mandate ends on Sept. 28. Prior to this meeting, the Board voted to follow the CDC and Wisconsin Health Department's recommendations to wear masks, social distance, and exercise proper hygiene. Polomis highly recommended that students continue to wear masks because kids have been good about wearing them thus far. He had sent a poll to the staff looking to see their thoughts on masks and he found that most staff was in favor of the continuation of masks after the mandate ends. He mentioned that the number one concern is keeping students and teachers safe. The Coleman School has only had four confirmed Covid cases and Polomis attributes that low number to the safety precautions in place.

Steve Herzog, a Board member, asked if the school can legally enforce masks and Polomis's answer was yes. Corey Kuchta, a Board member, mentioned that many families have approached him with concerns about requiring masks. He said that parents have been vocal about their "civil liberties" being taken away by the requirement of masks. Ryan Wendt, Board President, countered this with the fact that masks are a safety measure. He said that many people are saying that if you're not happy with the mask mandate, don't send your kids to school, but the Coleman School district needs to be attentive to those students who don't have the option to stay home. Coleman is doing everything they can to keep students safe, and right now, masks are a big part of that.

When it came time for action, the Board was silent on making the motion. After a few moments of silence, Wendt made the motion and it was eventually seconded. It was voted on via role call and barely passed. This topic will be revisited in the future, but for now, masks will be required in the event that the mask mandate is not extended. 

Although Polomis feels that fall sports spectatorship should not be decided by the Board of any school, the topic was requested to be put on the agenda. The Conference decided that each athlete would be allowed two to four spectators depending on what sport they play. Conference Athletic Directors and Principals decided on this, but Suring ruled that each athlete could bring their immediate family instead of the ticket idea. Kuchta, who has a large immediate family, brought up his frustrations with the tickets. He wanted to discuss the possibility of allowing immediate families instead of assigning tickets, which then sparked a dialogue between Board members. Polomis mentioned that every school in the Conference but Suring is adopting the Conference ruling of two to four spectators per athlete and he recommended doing the same. Kuchta asked what he was supposed to do when he only has four tickets and numerous individuals who want to attend the game. Wendt sympathized with him but mentioned that if his family gets to come, then every family is allowed to as well. When it came time to discuss this for the sake of action, Kuchta made a motion to adjust the Conference recommendation and allow immediate family to attend fall sports games. It was seconded and then open for discussion.

Marshall brought up the fact that not every home is traditional, so by allowing immediate family, they are ignoring certain family dynamics. She also said that the number one priority is making sure kids can still play sports. The Coleman School District is lucky to even have a sports season, so the kids should be the focus of the decision regarding spectatorship. Wendt said just by having the four spectators per athlete, that's about 160 people in the stands, which is a lot for the small bleachers. If immediate families were allowed, even people who wanted to social distance wouldn't be able to. It's difficult to tell what the solution is, especially for football, because there hasn't been a game. After taking the comments into consideration, Kuchta recommended that no one vote for his motion. He said that his intention wasn't to ignore unique family dynamics that would conflict with the immediate family motion. The motion unanimously failed. The Board decided that the fairest thing to do would be to uphold the Conference recommendation, at least until the superintendent's meeting at the end of this month.

The Coleman School District recently purchased two Pixillot cameras, one for the gym and the other for the field. If you want to view any home games for volleyball or football and are unable to enter via ticket, you can go to the Coleman School District's website. Once there, you should be able to find your way. The Coleman School District understands that we're living in a strange time where the community can't support the teams in person, which is why this live stream service is completely free. 

Next on the agenda was the approval of resignations and hirings. The resignation of Mary Rosner, a Special Ed teacher, was approved. Vicki Mandli, a Special Ed Aide, was approved for resignation. Yasmin Hahn was approved to be the new Special Ed teacher. Dan Auer was approved to be the new Volunteer Football Coach. Joe Styczynski was also approved as a Volunteer Football Coach. Noelle Sakowicz was approved to be a Special Education Aide, pending a physical. 

There will be a Special Board meeting on Oct. 5 at 6pm. The next Regular Board Meeting will be on Monday, Oct.19.




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