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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Principal Kate Willett Provides AGR Information

Issue Date: February 16, 2022

PELC (Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center) Principal Kate Willett was present to provide information on the AGR (Achievement Gap Reduction Program) grant that the school received that was focused on Achievement Gap Reduction at the Peshtigo School Board Meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

The AGR program allows a participating school to meet the obligations of its five-year contract by implementing one of three strategies, or a combination of these strategies in every kindergarten through grade three classroom: one-to-one tutoring provided by a licensed teacher; instructional coaching for teachers provided by a licensed teacher; or maintaining 18:1 or 30:2 classroom ratios and providing professional development on small group instruction. The AGR program requires a participating school to create performance objectives, including reducing the achievement gap between low??’income students in that school and students in the same grade and subject statewide.

Willett said, "Basically all school districts that work with this grant are able to employ up to three strategies to work towards developing plans for student achievement. Last year we were limited with the ones we could implement but this year with the exception of four classrooms, we were able to go through all three strategies We looked at reducing class sizes and maintaining that one to eighteen ratio. There is research that supports that small classrooms really does have more teacher contact. The next strategy would be to employ instructional coaching by the teachers so that they can work with teachers to identify strategies and skills they can do in the classroom".

The third strategy is having one to one tutoring provided by teachers and which is done with the teachers working with the students. Willett added, "This year we are able to use all strategies in most of our classrooms and I believe that will have a greater impact over time".

In September this year, universal instruction will be looked at, which is the type of instruction that all students receive. Teachers get to know their students, gather information, establish routines and do their initial assessment. That information is then used in October to analyze and figure out what groups students need to be placed in, and how some targeted intervention can be done for students in all group settings and using an interventionist as well.

Throughout that time period, monthly meetings will be held where Willett will meet with teachers, teachers meet will meet with teachers and our interventionists work together to collaborate and develop plans so that takes place throughout the year. In January, mid year assessments will be looked at of how the interventions and instructions are delivered to the kids. Star reading and Star math are also systems of measuring and with the two combined area good measuring tool.

The goal by the end of the year is for all students to be proficient in their early literacy assessments. There are some really nice math data from the fall to the winter assessment. We are seeing a lot of variety of learners and skills that the students have and teachers are adjusting to meet the students needs.

We want all of our students to demonstrate core academic growth and we want our staff to function as a collaborative learning community and then we can continue to make strides in our AGR reporting.

Closing, Willett commented, "I am pleased with the work we are doing as a district and as a building. We have all of our staff moving in the same direction, talking about instructional practices and are on the same page as to how we teach in the classroom and what we teach, as well as our assessment practices and we have a refined focus".

Several retirements and resignations were announced and later approved. The first retirement was from Pat Robbins as Varsity Assistant Football Coach. Before seconding the motion to accept Robbins resignation, Board Member Josh Seefeldt said, "Tell him that is a hard No". Jenny Martin also resigned as Junior Varsity One Volleyball Coach due transitioning into the Varsity Volleyball Coach position. Tina Schwartz is retiring as PELC Fourth Grade teacher, also with a request to receive early retirement benefits. She will be age 55 but has been with the district for 30 years and after a brief discussion it was approved to allow early retirement benefits. Marty Sanders as Middle High School Teacher, After School Program Supervisor, Middle School Forensics Coach and Summer School Teacher will be retiring effective the end of the 2021-22 school year. Seefeldt added, "She was a phenomenal teacher and is the reason I graduated". Board Member Gary Larsen stated, "She wore a lot of hats", as other board members echoed those comments.

There was also only one donation for the SEED (Students Eat Every Day) Program in the amount of $750 from the Peshtigo Fire Tower Run.

Superintendent Patrick Rau talked about the 2022-23 School Calendar. The Administrative team was working on providing more time off and shifting into curriculum work, which will be kicked off in June. There will be six days of curriculum work for teachers in Math and English Language Arts plus two days of data and a retreat for data analysis in June and want to provide consistent professional development time off throughout the school year. One of the models require late starts and early releases on a continual basis every other week, but that was not an option with inconveniences of school starting at 9:30 instead of 8 a.m. and not doable for a lot of families. Rau's suggestion would be regular days off for staff and students consisting of one regular scheduled day off per month.

Rau stated, "The development days provide the staff time to get a lot of work done throughout the school year. Based on feedback, we don't have substitute teachers to help ease the burnout rate of staff. Sometimes staff have to take a sick day just for a mental health day to destress. With the burnout rate statewide and nationally there is not a pool to pick from for teachers. By providing scheduled time off and professional development days it would give the teachers the ability to schedule their own appointments and schedule days off for their overall health. We will be having a large level of retirements coming up and it is going to be difficult to fill those voids the way it is now. With that being said, school would be scheduled for a 2022 start date of Thursday, Aug. 24. There is a need to find days to fit in those inservice and scheduled days off. Should we start there or go into the second week of June.

Board Vice President Steve Coble had concerns with starting Aug. 24, stating "I do like the idea of the scheduled day off once per month, but the Aug. 24 start date is right at the timing of the Marinette County Fair from Aug. 25th through the 28th. It does not affect a lot of kids, but there are still an amount of kids that participate in the fair as well as families that participate. This would cut into family participation with families not going to Thursdays events because of school the next day and decrease attendance at the fair. Aug. 24 is face to face judging day. We have a County wide event that has been there for over 100 years. I would like to figure out a way to lessen the impact to the fair. I would like you to consider to not start the 24th so as not to impact the County Fair attendance. We are all about getting kids to do things outside of the school district that keeps them busy, off the streets and in good standing, and now we are impacting one of the main events that will have an impact on all of this".

It was then approved by the board to start Monday, Aug. 29, 2022 and end the 2022-23 school year on June 7, 2023. The inservice and planned days off will be re-evaluated to possibly eliminate some of the professional development days. The Teacher inservice days would move to Aug. 22 through the 24 or Aug. 23 through the 25. Rau will ask the staff of what they prefer.

The meeting then moved forward with reviewing and editing of the referendum community survey that will be sent out. The survey will contain questions of respondent information, provide financial background including tax mill rates and funding support information along with several other community related questions and overall satisfaction of the District.

The needs of the Middle/ High School are not going away. In fact, many issues have continued to worsen over time, including, but not limited to, the recent failure of one of the boilers, substantial accessibility issues, water damage, cracking brickwork, outdated building systems such as HVAC, electrical and plumbing, as well as inadequate classrooms and labs. All in all, we know we need to do something.

The plans must reflect the priorities of the taxpayers with the most important decision to make is whether to build a new Middle/ High School or renovate the current facility. Individual feedback will be confidential and all survey data will be returned to School Perceptions, an independent Wisconsin based education research firm to assure confidentiality.

Rau advised upgrades to the PELC P.A. System will cost approximately $15,000 and it was then approved by the board.

In his report, Rau stated there will be a committee meeting on Wednesday, March 2 to review the policy for posting vacancies. He will meet with PELC Fourth Grade Teacher Jodi VanVooren and PELC Art Teacher Kelly Nemec to finalize a form. He also stated that himself, Middle High School Principal Chad Sodini and Director of Student Services Julie Williams participated in the Virtual Academy and stated it is a fantastic opportunity for those students that take advantage of a virtual academy and they can still remain Peshtigo Students. They will still be able to participate in school activities.

Rau stated the quarterly Chamber of Commerce meeting was held recently and School Board Members, Jenny Schwittay, Rebecca DeMarce, Joe Nault and Miranda Seefeldt were fortunate to be able to attend the meeting to represent the board. Technology Education Teacher Mike Paquette and Middle High School Tech Ed Teacher Beth Rocque presented the Tech Ed classes and programs they offer with a tour of their spaces. Also, Kay Sodini, PELC Fifth Grade Teacher shared the Stem Project curriculum and program she is doing and finished with Vocational Studies Teacher, Dan Vanedistine, with his students, presenting a vocational studies program. A senior that is finishing up that program shared his journey along with other students sharing their experiences with the program. Comments were made by board members that attended of how confident these students were

Rau added, For some of these students, traditional school doesn't work for them but with this program you see the confidence this program built in them.

Rau then identified items for the next months meeting agenda including, approval of Fund 73 World Virtual Academy Consortion contract, 10 year capital improvements, music Department trip with Jacob hickey and Deanna fried to present what their plan is for next spring break, and closed session with the board to discuss administrative contracts and staffing plans for the next two years.


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