Coleman School Board Discusses Building Upgrade Referendum
The Coleman School District will host a financial aid walk-in night on Monday, Nov. 28 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the business lab for any parents who need assistance completing their FAFSA application, Doug Polomis, High School Principal and District Administrator reported to the Coleman School Board at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 14.
Polomis congratulated longtime school bus driver Jerry Martens on his retirement. He said the bus drivers are very important to the attitudes of students. "They are the first people the kids see in the morning and the last one they see at night."
A new utility tractor will be purchased from Beaver Machine, which submitted the lowest of three bids.
The board approved hiring Samantha Schall as Varsity Girls Basketball Coach and approved resignation of Jeff Bronson from that position. Bronson is remaining as Athletic Director.
Donations of $1,264.76 from the Cougar Community Booster Club for two I-Pad Pros with cases and tripod stand for the high school wrestling team and $100 each to the 5th Quarter Club and MS Sportsters on behalf of Coleman Youth Football were accepted with thanks.
There will be no school for students on Friday, Nov. 18 but staff will be at work for in-service sessions on financial literacy and understanding Wisconsin DPI's school report cards, the Bright Byte survey and technology needs for parents, students and staff. Polomis invited any interested board members to attend the in-service training sessions.
The School Report Cards will not be publicly released until Thursday, Nov. 17, but there have been hints that Coleman scored well. Meanwhile, Coleman scored highest among all school districts in northeast Wisconsin in a report put out in October by USA Today rating Wisconsin schools based on state exam test scores in grades K through 8 and grade 10 in the areas of language, math, science and social studies.
Coleman's rank on that study is a credit to students teachers, support staff and the school board, Polomis declared. School districts colored green on the USA Today map ranked highest, and Coleman "is definitely green," Polomis said. The nearest school district with green is Howard/Suamico. There are no others in the area. "This is definitely something to celebrate," Polomis declared.
"Hats off to the teachers. They're the people that made it happen," Board President Ryan Wendt agreed.
The Building and Grounds Committee had met for half an hour prior to the full board meeting to discuss the facilities needs study recently done by Bray Architects and concession/restroom facilities at the baseball/softball complex.
The committee felt there should be more storage space in that facility, so plans were sent back to the drawing board, Committee Chair Jeremy Hoida reported.
The Bray study looked at the 1959, 1974 and 1999 portions of the buildings, from roof to basement, from outside of windows to inside learning spaces, including plumbing, electrical, HVAC needs.
"There are definitely needs...We will be talking about a referendum," Hoida told the board.
Polomis said a citizens committee will be organized with about 20 members, including at least two from the school board, some staff members, and members of the community. "Deciding what work gets done will be done by committees," Polomis said. "It is our job to have a vision of classes and what our classrooms should look like."
He said if the board chooses to go forward with plans toward a possible referendum to finance building improvements, the committee would meet perhaps eight times in the next year to narrow down the focus of the referendum.
He had prepared a timeline aimed at going to referendum on April 3, 2018. The timeline started with a meeting already held to view study results. Building the community task force, confirming priorities and assessing preliminary options and budgets and narrow down the focus of the referendum are scheduled to take place during the first four months of 2017.
Next would be preparing a community wide survey with results to be presented in 2017, followed by finalizing projected project scope and costs by the committee and then by the school board in the final months of 2017 and first three months of 2018 prior to the possible referendum in April asking voters to approve the tax levy to pay for the project.
Polomis said the current debt will be paid off by June of 2018, so if voters approve the referendum the mill rate should stay approximately the same, with little or no change to their tax bills.
He said Coleman is doing well, referencing the USA Today report and pending school report cards, "But we always strive to be better." He suggested board members should read a recent article in USA Today that talks about better designed schools turning out better educated students.
"We haven't gone to our district with a referendum since 1999," Polomis said. "This gives us a chance to decide what our school will look like for the next 15 to 20 years."
Board Member Barbara Krause-Klug verified that there will be public informational meetings for the entire community as well as the citizens advisory committee. She recalled that was done for the last referendum, "and we had some pretty good turnouts."
Polomis agreed that would be a critical component so if a referendum would go through they would know what their money would be spent on.
Elementary/Middle School Principal Yvette Marshall reported that parent/teacher conferences were held Tuesday, November 8th and Wednesday, November 9th. She stated the elementary parent turnout rate was at 92%. She made the Board aware that conferences in the lower elementary had to be reduced to 10 minutes per student due to the larger class sizes and the allotted time within the District calendar for conferences. She also stated that teachers needed to reorganize and prioritize the information within their conferences because of this shorter time. "The scheduled conferences give all parents an opportunity to meet with their child's teacher but if enough time was not available, parents are encouraged to contact the teacher for an additional time. Conferences can happen at any time of the school year, not just during our scheduled days and times within the district calendar," Marshall stated.
She thanked "Moms in Touch" for the dinner they provided for teachers and support staff during the evening conference date. That thanks was echoed by Polomis. "The teachers would like to have conferences more often if that's the kind of food they'll get," Polomis joked.
Marshall said elementary students will hold their Holiday Concert at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21. There was a moment of silence on Friday, Nov. 11 for Veterans Day, and Middle School students attended the Veterans Day program in the high school.
The choir Fall Festival Concert and Reception were held on Tuesday, Nov. 1 in conjunction with Peshtigo. "Our students and Mrs. Bader did a fabulous job," she declared. She said the program was well attended, and the audience included many local veterans who had canceled their meeting that night to attend.
Elementary students are again doing the 100 Million Word Challenge, which is led by Jody Graetz, a reading center aide. Marshall was confident students will meet their 50 million word goal during the second semester and the 100 million words by year end. There are rewards for students, as individuals and as a group, as each step is achieved.
Polomis reported on Friday, Oct. 28 there was an all school assembly to celebrate the success of the football team and distribute funds from the "Tackle for Cancer" game. All five recipients of the cancer funds joined the festivities and each received a check for $4,000, Polomis said. Bay Area Medical Center Oncology also received $1,400.
On Monday, Nov. 7, 11 students were inducted into the National Honor Society.
Polomis reported the Veterans Day Ceremony went well and thanked Ms. Gilbertson and the students who helped organize the event. Keynote speaker was Sean McGough.
Coleman FFA is holding a food drive during the Thanksgiving season.
At the start of the meeting Alexis Witak and Izzy Straub presented an enthusiastic report on the Eighth Grade class trip to Washington DC led by Jeremy Brady and taken by 39 students and 29 adults. They visited museums, monuments, memorials, the national Capitol, and Ford Theater, and still had time to enjoy swimming in pools at hotels when they stopped for the night. Both girls said their favorite stop was the World War II Holocaust Museum.
Brady said several parent chaperones told him they enjoyed the trip and would be happy to go again. Wendt commented that judging by Facebook comments, "The parents who went had as much fun as the kids."
Brady and students from his freshman Civics classes toured the state capitol in Madison and Ms. Gilbertson's U.S. History class toured the Wisconsin Veterans Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Brady will accompany 10 high school students to the Mini-Business World at UW-Marinette on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 28 and 29.
The board approved changes to several policies covering guidance and counseling, parental and police access to media center information, alternative education programs, school performance and accountability reports, and release of students to responsible persons.
Equestrian team volunteer coach Linsey Koenig and 6th grade team member Rachel Terp reported on the team's success during the recent season. The team has six members, and won Grand Champion at the District 30 level and placed 10th in the next level of state competition.
At the end of regular business, the board went into executive session to discuss an administrative contract and retired teacher sick leave compensation.
They agreed to follow existing board policy on the sick leave issue and took no action.
On the administrative contract, after returning to open session the board approved a motion to pay overtime wages to the District Administrative Assistant as required by the United States Department of Labor in a new rule that goes into effect on Thursday, Dec. 1. That rule specifies that any salaried person who earns less than $47,476 per year must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week.
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