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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Ask City To Consider Vacating Green Street

Issue Date: November 16, 2016

At the start of the Peshtigo School Board meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9, Superintendent Kim Eparvier expressed sorrow at the passing of longtime board member Vernon Rohde, who died on Monday, Nov. 7, and praised Rohde's dedication during his 34 years as a member of the board.

Since voters rejected the last referendum attempt for a new high school/middle school building the board has been looking into alternative solutions.

At Wednesday's meeting they approved the wording of a letter to the Peshtigo City Council explaining that the district is considering options that include the possibility of partial deconstruction remodeling and adding additions to the existing building on Green Street to address short and long-term facility needs.

The letter states that one factor, of several factors that must be determined before allocating additional financial and human resources around this issue, is whether or not the City Council would approve the "vacating' of Green Street and the portion of the adjacent alley bordering the district's vacant lot on the southeast corner of Green Street in order to provide the additional real estate for the proposed additions if this is the option the board chooses to pursue, and if voters support it through a successful referendum.

The letter asks that the matter be put on the agenda for discussion at the next City Council meeting, which will be on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Board vote in favor of a motion to send the letter drafted by Eparvier was unanimous.

The board approved hiring Deena Trimberger and Matt Paris as PELC Yearbook co-advisors, and the resignation of Keith LeMahieu as Middle School Football Coach.

Donations of $1,000 each were accepted from Bellin Health for the Athletic Department and General Mills Foundation as a matching grant for the Alumni Scholarship Fund. This matches a donation from mark Strebel last month.

The board approved an out of state field trip to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota for Rho Kappa.

Middle/High School Principal Chad Sodini and Elementary Principal Kelly Collins presented a joint report on results of the latest round of state testing. The "Forward" test the state mandates is slightly different from last year's test, and the principals and Eparvier all cautioned that generally the test scores will be lower on the more recent test.

Also, they said the state has declared that the ACT test formerly taken only by students who were college now must be administered to all students. As a result, the average scores will be lower.

Eparvier declared schools are faced with responsibility to educate the whole child, and not just teach with an eye to high test scores. However, he said, they may need to adjust some class content to meet the test.

"We are very pleased with what we see," Collins said of the test scores overall.

However, math scores were again below the average. "That's unacceptable, but it is what it is...it does not line up with other tests in the district," Sodini said. "We have to do some things to make that better." He said a bit later that some things Collins is already doing at the elementary level should help with future scores.

School districts with more students on the free and reduced lunch program are termed "disadvantaged," and are eligible for some grants for which wealthier districts are not.

Letters had been sent to families asking them to apply for the free lunch program to solidify Peshtigo's status as a low income district, and explaining the advantages to the district. Sodini said they get more SAGE funds and other grants if there are more low income families. Guesstimates were that 35 percent of middle school and high school students and 40 percent of elementary students are in the economically disadvantaged category.

Sodini and Collins explained how they're working to meet board goals, which include developing better staff communications and developing multi media use. The District leadership team meets monthly and will be getting together to coordinate curriculums, and they are working on the "WIN" program.

There also was discussion about changing school start and dismissal times for next year to allow a 30-minute resource period for each student during the day. Currently students in grades seven through nine are required to stay after school if they do not earn passing grades.

One proposal is to start school at 7:45 a.m. and dismiss at 3:15 p.m. each day. Current start time is 8 a,.m., with dismissal at 3:06.

Eparvier said then by cutting each class period from 53 to 50 minutes they could increase instruction time by four minutes each day, and find the extra 30 minutes of intervention time.

Another new goal set by the board is to develop business relationships, and Eparvier said they have been doing that. They try also to identify student's strengths and needs and talk about courses available to tie in with career goals. They also are working with BPM, Inc. General Manager Jim Koronkiewicz to set up a Peshtigo Work Fair and started a CNC class this year with four students. Some students had site visits at Winsert in Marinette and Enstrom in Menominee.

Alumni have been invited to come back to school to address students at a Senior Symposium on Dec. 22, with the focus on life in the work world.

Collins said at the elementary level they will focus a lot on core classes in English and math, and will make sure they have solid, consistent vertically aligned lessons, especially in reading and math.

The added blocks of time will allow opportunity not only for intervention on behalf of struggling students, but also to meet the needs of advanced upper level students.

"Board support of more intervention time has been very helpful," she said, adding that they need consistent and frequent staff group meetings to discuss individuals student needs. Each grade level intervention team meets once a month.

"We're all interventionists now, and we need to be working together to meet all of the needs of all of the students."

Back to discussing test score results, there was mention of "summer slide" which show students scoring lower when they come back in fall than they did when classes ended in spring. This brought a question about need for year round school, without a summer vacation, but there was no answer given.


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