by Bob Houts
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.
Bob Houts presented to the Board the concept of defeasance, which is a legal process to over-levy property taxes to pay off referendum debt. The situation is that the property tax mil rate for this year is projected to drop from $8.33 in 2020 to $7.44 in 2021. While it sounds like a great thing, it means the whipsawing of the levy over time. By over-levying, the Board can set a mil rate that is lower than in 2020, prevents the whipsawing of the mil rate over time and pays off the referendum debt faster. The Board indicates that they feel comfortable working to set the mil rate at near the $8.00 mark. This would generate about $160,000 to pay off the last year of the referendum debt, saving the district roughly $50,000 in interest payments over that time. As the budget for the 2021-22 school year is finalized in October, this will be taken into consideration.
Building Project update – The drawings of the revised building projects are going to Market & Johnson on September 21. M&J will then put the projects back out to bid, with a projected date of 10/14 for bid opening.
Solar Array Project – The project has started with the delivery of the pilings which will be used to hold up the solar panels. Those pilings will be set in late September, with the installation of the solar panels in mid-October. The project, which is estimated to save the District approximately $20,000 per year on our electric bill, is expected to be completed by the end of October.
Approve Resignation of Chris Lulloff – Custodian – Chris has resigned, effective 9/17, to take another position with an area construction company. The Board unanimously approved the resignation and thanks Chris for his years of service to the District.
Approve the retirement of Bob Houts – District Administrator – The Board unanimously approved the retirement of Bob Houts, effective June 30, 2022. This allows the Board to start the process of finding a replacement as soon as possible, hopefully getting ahead of other districts that will be searching. The Board thanks Bob for his years of service to the District.
Seclusion and Restraint Report – 2020-21 – Bob Houts presented to the Board the Seclusion and Restraint report that covered 2020-2021. There was one incident reported.
Preliminary 2021-22 enrollment numbers – Preliminary enrollment numbers that are used for state aid calculations in October, were presented. We are down roughly 6 students this year in our three-year rolling average. Enrollment numbers become official on the third Friday in September, which is 9/17.
Summer School Report – The 2021 summer school numbers were presented. Between the three weeks in June and the week in August, we generated enough student minutes to at 15 summer school students to our enrollment. Summer School students count as 40% for aid purposes, so we will add 6 students to our revenue calculations. Preliminary 2021-22
Budget Information – The preliminary revenue limit worksheet was presented to the Board. Estimated numbers show that with the changes will result in a DECREASE in the mil rate used to calculate property taxes this fall. Number will not become official until the until the Board approves the levy on October 25.
Discuss/ Approve District Insurance for 2021-22 – The insurance proposal for the 2021-22 school year was presented to the Board. This includes, property, liability, auto and workers’ compensation. The Board approved the insurance package submitted by The Insurance Center for $60,639.
WASB Recognition Program – Kim Amacher/Charlie Milliren – Congratulations to Kim Amacher and Charlie Milliren for reaching the Level 2 and Level 3, respectively, in the WASB Professional Development program. They will be recognized at the WASB Regional meeting in October.
WASB Regional Meeting – Wausau, October 13 6:00 PM – Charlie Milliren, Rick Eloranta, Paul Heggemeier and Kim Amacher indicated that they will attend the WASB Regional meeting.
Discuss serving of alcohol on school property – The OW Chamber of Commerce has asked about the possibility of holding the Business Expo here at school, again. One of the businesses, typically has done a wine tasting with their booth. The Chamber has asked me to look into the legality. In consultation with WASB attorneys, the Board has the authority to permit this. It does not violate any of our policies and state law actually permits this. The WASB legal staff recommends that the Board discuss and approve anytime this might occur. The initial reaction to the idea was pretty negative by the Board. They are very much in favor of the expo returning to the school, but they want to maintain no alcohol on school property. The policy committee will be convened to look at updating District policy.
Clarification of Snow Day Make-up - When the calendar was changed last year dud to COVID, we went to all snow days being “virtual days.” We had no time built into the calendar to allow for any forgiven days for school closure. When we put the calendar back to normal, with several days built in, we didn’t change the language that appeared on some calendars. The language and the practice will be that, “Inclement weather days will be made up at the discretion of the Board.”
Review Safe Return to School Plan – The Board reviewed and approved changes to the plan that covers our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The revised plan will be posted on the District web site. Mr. Houts reported that a survey of staff members showed that 65% of staff is fully vaccinated and the positive cases are relatively low in school and in the district municipalities.
Elementary – The students and staff once again collected money for the Veteran’s Fishing Camp. This year they raised $700. Thanks to all who participated. After discussing with the elementary staff, Grandparents’ Day has been moved to the spring of the year. We will be looking to run it in April. Picture retake day will be Thursday, October 14th. Thank you to the may groups and organizations who donated Back-to-School supplies. These include The O-W Lions Club, Forward Bank, Nazareth Church, Prevail Bank, Holy Assumption Orthodox Church and many individuals. Fall assessments of students, using our new system, FastBridge, have begun. This should be completed by the end of September.
MS/HS – 6th grade orientation in August went well. Good to see students back in the building. Homecoming, game and dance, will be on Saturday, October 9th. Parent-Teacher Conferences are slated for Monday, October 4th from 4-8 PM. Student assessments using FastBridge have started and will run through the end of September. Mr. Engel has two overnight outings he is planning: September 28 to World Dairy Expo in Madison and October 26- 30 to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.
District – The Meet and Greet that was held between the Board’s Teacher Negotiations Committee and the OWEA Reps. went very well. Several ideas were presented and reacted to. The dialog between the two groups will continue. Complimentary passes that allow entry to all district events, except WIAA Tournament games, were presented to Board members. Conversation regarding the State Education Convention in Milwaukee was started.
Committee Reports – The only report was the Teacher Negotiations Committee report about the meeting with OWEA Representatives. The topics to be considered and the financial impact on the District were included.
Communications – A Thank You note from the OWEA regarding the Meet and Greet held on September 8th was read and shared with the Board.
The next School Board meeting, which will also include the Budget Hearing and the Annual Meeting, will take place on Monday, October 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria
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