by Bob Houts
O-W District Administrator
The Board Wrap is a wrap up of the items discussed at the regular monthly meetings of the School Board of the School District of Owen-Withee. It is not meant to be “official minutes” of the meetings, but rather a source of information for interested parties.
Presentation of Board Bell to Julie Wendler – Bob Houts presented Julie Wendler a brass bell in recognition of her 11 years of service on the School Board. The Board thanks her for her service to the District.
LHB Architects and Market and Johnson presentations – Troy Miller (LHB Architects) presented the design drawings for the construction projects and gave a timeline for the next phases of the project. Completed drawings will be to Market & Johnson by Memorial Day. M&J will take the drawings and send the different phases of the projects out to bid by early June. Bids will be due back in late June with groundbreaking in July sometime. Ryan Wichmann, construction manager from M&J notified the Board that currently, estimates are showing the project about $1 million over budget, but with competitive bidding and some changes to the projects, we can get the total cost down to about $5.5 million.
President – Rick Eloranta was elected president for the 2021-22 school year
Vice-President – Paul Heggemeier was elected vice-president
Clerk – Angela Greshner was elected clerk
Treasurer – Kim Amacher was elected treasurer
CESA Annual Meeting Rep – Rick Eloranta was elected CESA Annual Meeting rep
WASB Delegate – Selection was tabled until November – closer to the WASB Convention
Review/Revise COVID-19 Plan
a. Eliminate Virtual Option for 2021-22 School Year – Upon administrative recommendation, the Board approved the elimination of the stay-at-home virtual option for the 2021-22 school year. Online classes will be offered to high school students, similar to prior to the pandemic, but those online classes will be offered in the school building.
b. Masks for Summer School – The Board approved changing the wearing of masks as optional for summer school in June.
c. Masks in school – the Board approved revising the COVID-19 plan to make mask wearing optional for the rest of the school year. Masks must still be worn on the bus as that is federal law that has not changed.
Discuss/Approve Contract for Lexi Opelt – Elementary Teacher – The Board approved the hiring of Lexi Opelt to be an 1st grade teacher for the 2021-22 school year.
Discuss/Approve Contract for Aracelius Gonzalez-Cortes – Elementary Teacher – The Board approved the hire of Aracelius Gonzalez-Cortes to be and Interventionist in the elementary school.
Approve Resignation of Jordan Wolff – Elementary Teacher – The Board approved the resignation of Jordan Wolff as 3rd grade teacher and thanks him for his four years of service to the district.
Approve Retirement for Donna Witek – Elementary Aide – The Board approved the retirement of Donna Witek and thanks her for her 19 years of service to the District.
Discuss/Approve WIAA Membership High School and Middle School – The Board approved membership in the WIAA for both High School and Middle School for the 2021-22 school year.
Discuss/Approve 2021-22 Open Enrollment Students – The Board approved the open enrollment requests that have been made for the 2021-22 school year. Six students have requested to come into the District while six students have enrolled to attend other Districts.
Discuss/Approve 2021-22 Co-Curricular Assignments – The Board approved co-curricular assignments as presented. Letters of Intent to Hire will be given to all current coaches/advisors with a return date prior to the end of the school year. Positions that need to be filled will be done so ASAP after letters are returned.
Discuss/Approve Project SOAR Consortium Membership – The Board approved membership in the SOAR consortium, which is a group of area districts, coordinated by Medford, that provides transition services to special needs students. Other members include Colby and Gilman.
Discuss/Update Plans for Graduation – After much public input during the open forum and the Informal Discussion of agenda item, the Board approved allowing 10 guests per graduate with a maximum of 500 people for an indoor graduation. With the plan to be outdoors on the football field on May 22, there will be no limit to the number of people who may attend. Administrators will meet with choir/band directors to see if it is possible for their groups to perform at the graduation ceremony.
Discuss/Approve ESSER II Spending Plan – The Board approved the ESSER II Spending Plan that a presented. This includes $150,000 for each school and pupil services with roughly $450,000 going towards district projects. This is the money that was allocated by the federal government last December. OW has roughly $800,000 to spend on COVID related issues, remediation and getting kids caught up.
Discuss/Approve Summer Projects – Three summer projects were presented to the Board by the Buildings and Grounds committee including blacktop repair/maintenance, drop ceiling/lighting in the gym lobby and a new skid steer for the maintenance dept. The Board approved moving forward with the top priority item which was blacktop maintenance. The three areas to be completed are the elementary playground, the main (north) parking lot and repair of the track. The other two items will be done if funds remain from the 2020-21 budget.
Class of 2020 Funds – When the 2019-20 school year was shut down in March of 2020, it left the Class of 2020 with quite a bit of money left in their District account. Various ways of spending that money down have been proposed by the class and by administration. A solution to the account balance problem is being sought so that the class can use their funds, but not violate district policy and state statutes. The discussion of the topic was tabled until more information can be gathered.
∙ Elementary – Mrs. Van Ark reported on the reading challenge that was put before students to get them to read more at home. Mr. Goerlitz and Mrs. Schwab along with Mrs. Van Ark are planning a Sixty Step Reading Celebration for May 21 for kids who reach their goal. Mrs. Cindy Schwab and Ms. RaeAnn Schwab volunteered to help me host a Read-in for our students on Tuesday and Thursday after school for two weeks in order to help students meet the sixty step goal. Thirty-two students signed up and have been attending. Friday, May 14th is Ag Days. We have made some changes for Covid-19 precautions, but will still have the core events happening. Our fourth grade students will be bringing in their farm projects to showcase and the high school FFA will have equipment out in the parking lot for students to look at. One hundred and thirty-five students signed up for summer school! We will offer transportation and meals. We were also able to have swimming lessons at Colby this year.
∙ Middle/High School - Prom was a great success! We had 43 of the 44 students that signed up attend. The Junior class had the gym decorated beautifully and there were no issues. Wednesday, May 5th was community service day. Our students did a great job of helping those in need in the community. The senior banquet will take place on Wednesday, May 19th starting at 6:00 PM. Scholarships and other awards will be handed out at that time. Senior final exams will take place next week. Seniors will take finals Tuesday, May 18th in the afternoon, all day Wednesday, May 19, and in the morning on Thursday, May 20th. Seniors will be dismissed after their last final on Thursday.
∙ District – Mr. Houts asked the Board to consider whether we want to offer COVID vaccines to our students in a vaccine clinic type setting here at school. Also, they should consider whether we want to participate in the State of Wisconsin COVID-19 testing program. The state has $175 million to do testing in schools for the next school year. Committee Reports – The only report for committees was the Buildings and Grounds Committee which met on May 3rd.
The next School Board meeting will be on Monday, June 14 at 7:00 PM in the Cafeteria.
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