Meeting Sept. 21 On Peshtigo High School Facilities Needs
Peshtigo School District will be taking another look at the possibilities for renovating and expanding the existing Middle School/High School building. District Administrator Kim Eparvier urged everyone to attend a meeting in the music room off of the Elementary School cafeteria at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday,Sept. 21 at which options and ideas will be explored.
"This will be a very important meeting," Eparvier declared. He stressed that not only the board, but also the public, is invited to discuss facilities needs and explore all the options. They will eventually determine that either there is a way to make renovation of the existing building a viable option in view of difficulties like wetlands limitations, or eliminate that option, he said.
Three times in the last three years district electors rejected referendums for funding an entirely new building. In 2013 a funding referendum for an entirely new building on a proposed site that was not adjacent to existing school facilities was soundly defeated. Then in November of 2015 and April of 2016 referendums for a new building were again voted down. The 2015 and 2016 referendums came after the school district had purchased a site adjacent to the existing elementary school campus and immediately north of the existing high school/middle school campus, which is bordered by Trout Creek.
Asked after the Sept. 12 meeting if they are considering another referendum, Eparvier said the board has decided to look at all potential options. He suggested that before making any firm decisions they may want to do a community questionnaire.
By unanimous vote the board approved a set of five goals for 2016-2016. The goals are:
1) To commit the resources and professional development needed to establish an effective process ot address student learning targets and goals through differentiated instruction;
2) To educate and communicate to the general citizenry regarding the immediate and long-term facility needs associated with the middle/high school programming along with the costs, the pros, and the cons of the identified options;
3) Use a multimedia approach to increase communication between the public, the Board of Education, and the Administration, students and staff of the two buildings;
4) To commit the resources and professional development needed to maximize the involvement and engagement of all students through the RTI process in an effort to close the achievement gap; and
5) To develop business partnerships and programing that will promote and support the local workforce needs.
Later in the meeting Eparvier reported efforts are underway toward the goal of expanding school and business partnerships. He said he and administrators from Marinette, Stephenson and Menominee school districts recently met with some area business and industry leaders to discuss options and possibilities at a gathering spearheaded by Jan Allman, CEO of Marinette Marine. Peshtigo Guidance Counselor Randy Verkerke attended a follow up meeting last week, and now they want to get students and teachers involved.
"We need to build an awareness of our manufacturing climate today," Eparvier said. After the meeting he commented that many parents still have a negative concept that manufacturing facilities are dark, dingy and dirty work places. He said these are high paying jobs and offer a good work environment.
He said last year Waupaca Foundry stepped up to help with industrial work awareness. There were eight to 10 Peshtigo Students going there for job shadowing and internships in production and office type jobs on the business end.
The manufacturers who need high quality workers will invest in equipment and training to provide students with the skills that their industry needs.
In many cases, the most improvement is needed in the "soft skills," things like work ethics which include showing up for work regularly and on time, getting along with others, problem solving, working independently, etc.
In other action at the meeting the board gave unanimous consent for a portion of the River Road Riders Snowmobile Trail through Peshtigo to use undeveloped school owned property as an alternate route to connect with existing portions of their trail in the Town of Peshtigo.
The trail could go alongside an existing gate, School Phy Ed Teacher Tye Schoenebeck told the board. This would allow keeping the driveway access closed. Schoenebeck was at the meeting as a spokesman for the club. The permission is good for one year.
The city recently approved a snowmobile route that crosses the frozen Peshtigo River to the beach at Badger Park and then passes through the park and follows a portion of Aubin Street before it connects with an existing trail in the Town of Peshtigo west of the city. In previous years the school board had also approved use of their property for snowmobile trail but the club had been unable to get permission for other portions of the trail. Schoenebeck explained the club requested use of the school property in case problems develop with the planned route. He said the school route would actually be easier and safer. To questions from Board President Gary Larsen, Schoenebeck said they would not need to cut trees to clear the route, just move some fallen timber and perhaps grind a few stumps.
After a few grammatical corrections offered by Board Member Julie Muenster the board approved second readings of policies that cover school counseling; parental and police access to library and instruction material center information; the career and technical education program, drug free work place; staff ethics; freedom of speech for support staff in non-school settings; course options for students; release of students to authorized persons; student suicide; weapons in regard to students; student fund raising; administration of grant programs, and purchasing.
Policies given first reading approval and slated to come back next month for adoption include drug free work place in regard to support staff; student attendance; student credit from non-public schools; weapons on school property; use of district facilities; volunteers; student records; food services; and free and reduced price meals.
The board accepted a donation of $500 from Rick Thill of State Farm Insurance for the Varsity Girls basketball program. They also accepted donations of $3,000 for the music department and $1,000 for Skills USA from Jan and Jeff Allman. Eparvier explained Skills USA is part of the high school's technical education program.
There were no hirings, resignations or retirements reported for the month. Scheduled action on a music trip to New York was postponed.
Buildings and Property Committee Chair Steve Coble reported everyone found things looking "pretty good" on their walk through of school buildings before school opened earlier in the month. He said there were many comments on the newly opened stairway in the high school.
During time for public comment at the start of the meeting Paula Gruszynski, Executive Director of M&M Area Community Foundation, introduced herself to the board. She thanked board members for all they do, and said having been a teacher in the Shawano School District for 17 years she is glad to be again working with schools as part of her new position with the M&M Community Foundation.
She said the Foundation, which has existed for 21 years, has an $8 million endowment from which proceeds are used for local philathropies, including scholarships. This year they awarded scholarships to 69 area students. But, she said, they also give grants to help fund local school and community projects, and get donations regularly, with some earmarked for specific goals and others available for general use. There are three grant cycles each year that community leaders should know about, Gruszynski said. Last year the Foundation gave out over $300,000 in grants in addition to the scholarships.
In addition to the original endowment, a few years ago a Peshtigo donor set up a special Peshtigo section of the M&M Community Foundation which is used strictly for Peshtigo projects.
With its $8 million endowment the Foundation has significant investment clout, Gruszynski said. She suggested that when someone wants to donate to the school they could do it through the foundation to benefit from that. The money will be distributed by the Foundation's Board of Directors in accord with the donor's wishes, she said.
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