Tuesday, April 22, 2008

School referendum update - First public informational meeting set for May 5

An update concerning the June 3, 2008 school building referendum was presented at the school board meeting Monday night.

Superintendent Rusty Helland displayed the informational flyer that has been distributed throughout the district. He said a direct mail packet is ready to go and will be mailed next week to all district residents. The information from the packet will also be posted on the district web site, he said.

Monday, May 5 is the first of four scheduled public informational meetings regarding the referendum.

"Our goal is to have informed voters," Helland said.

The district web site's referendum page has been receiving a high volume of visits, according to Athletic Director/Transportation Supervisor Wade Labecki, who developed the site. "There is now a new video on the site," he added.

Since March 24, the first day the referendum page was available, there were 600 visits to the page during the last week of that month. Labecki said the traffic continues to be high during April, averaging 300 visits a day during the week and 200 visits per day on the weekend.

"The facilities study group power point is particularly popular," commented Labecki.

During the open forum, district resident LeAnn Rice identified herself as a representative of Citizens for Responsible Government, a fiscally conservative political action committee based in Milwaukee. She said there are 30 affiliates across the state, one being in St. Croix County. The group has reviewed the Baldwin-Woodville referendum information she said. Rice submitted a document of questions for board members regarding the referendum, requesting answers within a week.

"I certainly appreciate the hard work of the board," Rice said.

Eric Becker, Viking Middle School band director, delivered a presentation of music department happenings in the district. The entire music department was present: Becker, Adam Bassak, high school band director; Chandra Lamb, elementary music; Janet Hanson, high school choral
director; and Jane Thompson, Viking general music and choir director.

Students start playing instruments, singing, reading music, and composing at the elementary level, Becker said. At middle school each grade level has a choir and band he added.

At the high school level the various choirs and bands not only perform, they compete throughout the season, Becker said, and have been very successful.

Presently, three of the music department staff are over-scheduled due tolarge numbers of participants Becker concluded.

High School teacher Jason Sell informed the board of a pilot program for block classes next year. He said block classes (longer class periods, usually two periods) will be offered for sophomores in geometry, English, speech and physics. The block classes will be completed in a semester instead of running the entire year. Regular classes will also be offered, and the results of the two will be compared and evaluated at the end of the year, Sell said.

Advantages of block classes for certain disciplines include more cooperative learning, research opportunities, collaboration, and more teacher time with students. "Block classes make sense for some areas," said Principal Eric Russell, "but areas like foreign language or band, for instance, need to run the entire year."

Sell also informed the board that next year there will be two days of final exams scheduled at the high school. "We want to prepare each grade level for what comes next," he said. Sophomores need to be ready to take the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam, and seniors attending college need to have experience taking final exams, for example, said Sell.

A motion to approve year-end expenditures totaling $517,335 was approved by the board. Included in the expenditures are water proofing at Viking, $192,000, and high school, $149,000.

The board approved a ten cent increase in lunch prices, including adult lunches.

The board approved a $50.00 increase in the Drivers Education fee, which will be $200.00.

The board approved support staff 2008-2010 compensation/contracts.

The board approved the resolution authorizing adoption of 403(b) plan. The plan fulfills IRS requirements regarding tax sheltered annuities.

Board member Mike Bondarenko was appointed the board's representative to the 2008 CESA #11 Annual Convention.