The Owen-Withee School Board met in regular session on Monday, August 10, at the high school media center. Items of special interest were a new bus contract and the progress of the November referendum. In a meeting with the Board and District Administrators setting the example of social distancing and face coverings, Dean Schmelzer was the lone board member to defy the posted notice against entering the building without a face covering.
A presentation preceded the regular agenda items that updated the Board on the progress of the referendum as to amounts and measures and marketing preceding the November vote. The total building project—including the dome and expanded Ag-Tech areas—amounted to $5,039,000 with $3,150,000 coming from the referendum. Even with that, property taxes will still go down in the next cycle.
Additional New Business included the approval of Student Handbooks and accepting the resignation of 2nd Grade teacher Heidi Lenz who will be starting a new business in equine therapy. A short-term borrowing resolution was approved for the securing of a loan with Forward Bank for a credit line of $1.5 million to cover district expenses before the district receives the aid from the state.
No changes were made in student fees for 2020-21 and the Board approved the Use of Space Agreement with Clark County Community Services for the same period. Additionally, District Administrator Bob Houts proposed a $5 per day increase in pay for substitute teachers for the 2020-21 school year, raising the pay to $110 per day.
“It’s not much but we are asking them to come into school during the time of COVID-19,” Houts said.
The Board voted 6-1 in favor of the Charlie Milliren/Paul Heggemeier motion with Schmelzer being the only vote to oppose the pay raise.
The Board also approved the purchase of replacement laptops for teachers. Houts reported that the district had received $198,000 from the CARES relief act and $73,000 from the State of Wisconsin. After purchasing masks, gloves, foggers and more, Houts proposed replacing the 5-6 year old laptops used by the faculty. The Heggemeier/Kim Amacher motion was unanimously approved.
With Town & Country’s Steve Yonda stepping away as the district bus service, the board approved the seven-year contract with Wally Bogseth. The Board expressed agreement that Bogseth was already familiar with the bus routes and measures approved by the Board.
In Bob Houts Administrator’s Report, he said that the numbers for varsity football were not good for this year with the players coming mostly from the lower classes. It had been proposed that OWHS create a schedule with schools in similar binds, such as Thorp, Athens, Abbotsford, and Auburndale.
“We don’t want our younger players going up against much larger players,” said Houts. “We’re just looking out for the safety of our kids.”
Finally, Rick Eloranta notified the Board that he had been elected as CESA-10 Chair for the 2020-21 school year.
Sentinel Rural News is the leading source of news for Central Wisconsin. We utilize local writers as our content creators while including contributors of expertise from across the country.