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Lena School Board Okays Opening Plans, Fills Posts

Issue Date: September 2, 2021

Lena School Board at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 23 dealt with a number of issues in preparation for the re-opening of school on Wednesday, Sept. 1 for the 2021-2022 school year coming up fast. In addition to routine business, they approved plans for dealing with COVID during the new school year that include in-person classes five days per week, with face coverings optional, except on busses, where Lamers wants masks worn); heard reports on work that has been done to prepare buildings and grounds for the return of students, and heard reports on plans and staff and student activities from District Administrator/Elementary Principal Ben Pytleski, Athletic Director Jeff Heimke and newly hired High School/Middle School Principal Matthew Hanson.

Pytleski said the new basement locker rooms were looking great, but were still in the process of completion. New lighting was to be delivered during the week, and after the lockers are delivered and installed the decal person would come in to do the finishing work. Pytleski predicted the work would all be done on time, before the Sept. 1 return of students.

He said the elementary windows had a much needed upgrade and turned out excellent.

Windows in the cafeteria are covered with decals that allow anyone inside to see out, but prevent anyone outside from seeing in.

Steps were being completed in front of the elementary wing, the daycare area and the back door by the cafeteria.

Old sand was being removed from the Baseball Diamond and replaced with new ground.

The board was advised that 4K and 5K camp would be from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24 and 25, and teacher in-service would be on Thursday, Aug. 26 and Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 30 and 31.

The board was advised that Lucas Swalheim has resigned as National Honor Society Advisor and Middle School teacher Jackie Wolford will take over.

Resignation of Nicole Herald from the Support Staff was accepted and Debra Heimke was approved as an instructional aide. Pytleski said Herald had taken a job in Student Services with CESA, and had said in her letter of resignation that she had always loved her job with Lena. He said the timing was good because Heimke had applied to get back to Lena, and the job will be full time, as it will include PT guidance.

A rather unique plan was approved to fill the second grade teaching position for the 22021-2022 school year. Pytleski explained they had interviewed three candidates for the position, and the one who did significantly better than the others was Sierra Demmith, a student teacher who has been working with Sue Wos as mentor. Placing second in the interviews was substitute teacher Hanna Raasch.

Because Demmith will not be finished with her student teaching until the end of the first semester, the solution Pytleski proposed, which was ultimately accepted by the board, is that Raasch will teach as long-term substitute teacher for second grade for the first semester, with Demmith working closely with her and Sue Wos in the room next door. Pytleski said Demmith "did some great work across the road for us with 4K."

Board President Lori Dufek asked if Raasch was offended by the arrangement, and Pytleski said she was not. "I was very up-front with her and told her I wanted it to be a team effort with her, Wos and Sierra...It's a very unique solution and I think it will turn out well," he added. He said there due to a teacher pregnancy, the district will very likely also need a long-term substitute teacher for the second semester.

A list of Extra Duty Contracts for the 2021-2022 School Year was approved as presented, with board member Ed Huberty abstaining. The contracts are for Huberty as JV Boys Basketball coach; Kaila Vorpoahl as JV Volley Ball coach; Ty Beland as volunteer High School football Coach; Stacy Juelich as Forensics advisor; Daniel Auer and Lee Van Ark splitting the positions of Junior High Wrestling Coach and Assistant Wrestling Coach; Hannah Weidner as Cheerleading Coach, and Michael Nompleggi as Junior High Boys Basketball Coach.

Pytleski complimented Heimke on doing a good job of finding good people for all the positions.

Heimke agreed they are all good people, and said he was pleased to have found a cheerleading coach with a strong background in classical and ballroom dancing.

Heimke distributed copies of the football schedules and practices, including the Homecoming Game against Gillett on Friday, Sept. 17. He said they had 56 high school students and 29 middle school students participating in sports.

A parent transportation contract was approved for a family with four elementary students who attend Faith Christian School.

During discussion on the Covid rules for returning to school Pytleski said last year virtual education at home had been an option, and 100 of the district's 600 students chose that option. He said that puts extra stress on staff, and staying isolated at home is not good for students in terms of learning and mental/emotional health.

Hanson reported the Grades 6 through 12 ELA team met Aug 9, with CESA representatives, and vendors are coming on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

The Shared Leadership Team met Wednesday, Aug. 11 with Tara Seefeldt, Tammy Klimpke, Bobbie Windus, Shelly Meisner, Mike Nompleggi, Heidi Place, and Chelsea Sherman. They identified possible norms, looked at the Strategic Plan, and began a behavior policy discussion.

Hanson said his Strategic Plan has two goals. First is that

-LM/HS Staff Culture Goal: By July of 2022, a Middle School/High School Shared Leadership Team will develop staff culture and student engagement goals for the 2022-2023 school year;; and second is that by the end of the 2021-2022 school year, a Behavior Management System will be in place that includes expectations, behavior tracking, proactive strategies, and consistent consequences.

Hanson said he will be getting coaching from CESA on the actions and timelines.

Pyteski mentioned that the school nurse has indicated plans to retire early and will leave at about the end of September.

The next board meeting is scheduled fo Monday, Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m.


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