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Coleman School Scores Best In State Report Cards

The Christmas holidays are approaching, and the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year is coming to an end. For Coleman School District, the semester will end on Friday, Jan. 20. Final exams for high school students are scheduled for Jan. 19 and 20. Winter break for students and staff will be from Friday, Dec. 23 through Sunday, Jan. 1, with classes to resume on Monday, Jan. 2.

The high school and middle school winter concerts will be held on Monday, Nov. 19 with the choir starting at 6:30 p.m. and the board performing at 7:30 p.m.

The Elementary School winter program will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 21 in the high school gym. The program will start with Staff Singers at 1:45 p.m., followed by student performances at 2 p.m. Elementary/Middle School Principal Yvette Marshall noted the program will follow the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon which will begin at 1:10 p.m. in the High School Cafeteria. Seniors citizens who are interested in attending the luncheon should call the district office to reserve a spot.

Some high school student organizations are helping celebrate Christmas in special ways. Ms. Wautier and the FFA have organized an "Operation Christmas Cheer" to assist the senior citizens in the community, and Mr. Kaufman and his leadership students have been organizing a "Giving Tree" to assist within the local community.

The news was out earlier, but in his report to the board at its monthly meeting on Monday, Dec. 12, District Administrator/High School Principal Doug Polomis formally informed the Coleman School Board on Monday, Dec. 12 that their school scored a rare five stars grade on the state-issued school report cards for the 2015-2016 school year by earning a "significantly exceeds expectations" rating.

Coleman had the highest rating of any other school in northeast Wisconsin. Only 54 of the state's 424 public school districts earned this distinction, and none of them are in CESA 8. Polomis declared the scores are a tribute to the hard work and collaboration of school board, teachers, staff, students and families.

The District had an overall score of 85.3, with 100 points the highest possible rating. Coleman scores ranked above the state average in all categories reported.

Coleman Elementary School also earned the "significantly exceeds expectations," 5-star rank, with a score of 85.1. Student achievement score was 80.8, while the state averaged 69.9.

Middle School score was 82.5, which earns four stars. In each area measured the score was above the state average, and in fact was 100 of a possible 100 points for closing gaps in English Language Arts and mathematics combined. State average was 64.1.

The high school scored 69.4 points overall, which earned three stars and a "meets expectations" rating. There were no points given for closing achievement gaps or student growth. Student achievement scores totaled 62.3, slightly under the state average of 63.6. English Language Arts achievement score was 34.2, while the state average is 33.1. Mathematics Achievement score was 28.2, which compares with the state average of 30.5. The high school graduation rate and overall "on track readiness", scored 97.9 percent, which is well above the state average of 90.6.

Polomis said the report card information, released on Nov. 17, was shared with staff at an inservice on Nov. 18.

He congratulated staff on the achievement, and pledged that the scores next year will be even better. To get a head start toward future high school math scores, Polomis said they are encouraging students to take algebra in 8th grade, and in fact are making that a priority.

ACT college readiness test scores also count toward the state report card, and Polomis said most of the teachers have begun starting each class with a practice ACT test question. They will also be doing some work with students to help achieve higher ACT test scores.

In other business, the board approved taking another step toward a possible future referendum to improve school facilities. At Polomis' request the board approved creation of a community task force, and adopted a set of tasks the group will be asked to address.

The "Community Task Force Charge" approved by the board states they are "charged to review all pertinent information regarding our facilities, based upon the outcome of a soon to be completed assessment of all of our facilities."

The document asks the Task Force to consider several matters in making their recommendation to the board for future action.

These include:

*Review and analyze the findings of the district's comprehensive facilities study document;

*Focus on creating safe and accessible environments for all students;

*Transition traditional learning spaces into flexible and modern learning spaces that emphasize collaboration and inspire individual achievement;

*Provide a recommendation that is cost-effective for the community, energy efficient and adaptable for the future of the district; and

*Serve as key communicators and information providers ot the community throughout the process.

The Task Force is to be made up of 25 members, with two of them members of the School Board. He asked each board member to suggest five people to serve on the Task Force.

Plans are to hold Task Force sessions on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m., starting with Wednesday, Feb. 1. Polomis said Wednesday is generally a church night with no school activities scheduled. Task Force members should not need to miss their child's programs and sports events. Polomis said because the work is intensive and each meeting builds on the other, it is important for those who serve on the Task Force be present from start to finish.

The Task Force is to meet Feb. 1, 22, March 15, April 12, and May 3, when they will review updated options and costs and hear an explanation of the survey concept. At meetings before that they will have toured the buildings, looked at the facilities assessment, heard from administration, looked at financing and modern learning environments, prioritized needs, and reviewed initial options and cost.

They then will take a break until Aug. 16, when the survey draft will be presented. The survey will run from Sept. 11 to Oct. 2, with results tabulated for the district Annual Meeting in October.

On Monday, Oct. 23 the Task Force and School Board will meet jointly to look at survey results. The Task Force then will tweak options and recommendations on Wednesday, Nov. 8 in preparation for presentation to the School Board on Monday, Nov. 27. The schedule calls for the board to adopt a resolution on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 in preparation for moving ahead with a referendum to finance the recommended improvements.

"This is a community task force, charged with bringing a recommendation to this board on what they want our school to look like. It is not board led! It is not administrator led!" he declared.

Meetings will be led by representatives of Miron Builders, Bray Architects or School Perceptions, the school survey company. The two school board members who serve on the task force will report to the full board each month. He repeated, "The role of school board members and administration is simply to hear and listen to what the community is saying."

"My hope is to have a committee vision of what our school will look like 15 to 20 years down the road," Polomis said, and added he wants them to consider "How can we convince our students to come back here to live and raise their families so their children can attend Coleman schools." He predicted that with more high speed internet connection available in future years, more and more wage earners will be able to live where they want and work frequently from home.

"When this is done, do we as board members get to tweak the recommendations?" asked Board President Ryan Wendt.

Polomis agreed the board has the final say, "...but the last thing I want would be for the board to ignore all the work that the task force has done."

Board member Barb Krause-Klug felt if the two board members bring back reports each month and the board discusses them there should be no surprises.

When vote was called all were in favor. Board member Scott Herzog was absent. Those present in addition to Wendt and Krause-Klug were Joanne Nowak, Jeremy Hoida, Jamie Graetz and Barb VanDrisse.

The board approved hiring Kathy Bader as Forensics Coach, a position that has been posted since the start of the school year. They also approved Alex Tadisch as volunteer basketball coach.

Resignation of Traci Meyers as a paraprofessional for reasons of health was accepted with regrets by the board.

The board accepted a donation of $102.43 from Culvers for the Coleman FFA. Polomis noted there is no other school in Marinette County with an FFA Chapter, so all the Culvers special promotion proceeds went to them.

The District Spotlight focused on Instructional Coaching with a presentation by volunteer coaches Linda Swenty, Joanna Grosse and Deb Heitman, who have been taking special training to serve as coaches for their fellow teachers. Swenty and Grosse work with literacy and Heitman works with math.

They stressed that having a coach is not a punishment for doing something wrong, nor is coaching meant to be critical, it is meant to put another set of eyes to help everyone do their job better. Several teachers have already agreed to be their clients, Swenty said.

Wendt wondered if this is just voluntary, or "is it something we will be mandating?"

Nowak wondered when the coaches will find time for this extra work if they have a full schedule of classes.

Grosse said so far they have been doing coaching during their class preparation time.

"Give these ladies the tools they need to go into the classrooms," Polomis urged. "Learning how to improve teaching for our students, that's our ultimate goal!"

Polomis said if and when the coaches need to sit in on classes and observe he expects to hire substitute teachers to handle their regular responsibilities.

Marshall and Polomis both praised the three for doing a great job.

Polomis gave advance warning to the board and the community that on Thursday, Jan. 12, law enforcement will take over the board room in the elementary building. Officers from Marinette and Oconto County Sheriff's Departments and Wisconsin State Patrol will meet there for training and discussions. He will notify parents not to be alarmed when they see 25 to 30 squad cars in the school parking lot.

Polomis said the Coleman Lions Club has started a "Student of the Month" award, and the first student selected, Mitchell Bushmaker, was nominated by Derek Tate, one of his teachers. Bushmaker was being honored that evening at a Lions Club dinner at Bob and Laura's Supper Club, with Tate also a guest, and a plaque was prepared in his honor. "This is a very nice tradition that we want to continue," Polomis commented.

Marshall reported elementary students are getting closer to their 100 million word reading goal. So far this year they have read over 33.2 million words, she said.

The Elementary School is continuing with the monthly Family Meeting connected with the ś Habits of Happy Kids." This month's message was "Put First Things First," and the fifth graders put together a special video to show examples for younger students. "Our fifth graders did a phenomenal job...It's neat to see the bridge between our older and younger students," Marshall commented.

The Junior Kindergarten is to hold a "Drive In Movie" for December's parent outreach event. Parents will help decorate a "car" to take to the movie, and then they will "drive" those cars to the movies to watch "The Land Before Time" with popcorn and juice.

Immediately after the meeting adjourned Polomis asked board members to stay for a bit to fill out an on-line survey in connection with the book, "The Key Work of School Boards" on laptops he made available. The survey is part of a study by the National School Boards Association.


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