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What should crisis communication look like?

Cadott School Board

How will parents be notified and what will the notification contain, if there is a crisis at school? That was a topic of discussion heard at a regular Cadott School Board meeting, Jan. 13.

Jenny Starck, district administrator, talked about the district’s crisis communication protocol during the reports portion of the meeting, after a threat incident in the elementary school earlier in the year. During a Committee of the Whole meeting earlier in the month, members also discussed the protocol.

Starck highlighted that all communication to parents will go through the district office, to prevent confusion from different people sharing messages. Communications will also be coordinated with emergency services, if necessary.

“Not all of the details will be able to be shared,” said Starck, adding they can’t share when there is an investigation.

One of the changes Starck says the district received feedback on, was to include a statement that children should stay at school, if appropriate.

“At the time it was assumed, that if we didn’t say ‘come pick up your child,’ people wouldn’t think that,” said Starck.

Starck also says a Skyward program will send texts to the primary phone number of students’ accounts Feb. 17, and parents can respond “yes” if they want to be on text communication. She recommends parents check the primary phone listed before that date.

Starck says the district will not do phone call communications in a crisis situation, because parents call back when they see they missed a call from the school, tying up phone lines.

Finally, families will receive a final communication when the incident is resolved.

The district also received an update on their finances, with an 2018-19 audit report from Kim Shult, Baker Tilly.

“One of the most important numbers that we look at in any unit of government, is your General Fund, fund balance,” said Shult, adding adequate fund balance is important for cash flow.

The audit compared the fund balance at the end of the last fiscal year, to the annual general fund expenditures. The percentage calculated came out to just over two months worth of General Fund expenditures.

Shult says two months is the minimum generally recommended to keep cash flow and showed a graph with the previous five years unassigned fund balance, as a percentage, in comparison to the recommended minimum.

“You’ve been above that red line fairly consistent, a little bit of a downward trend, but again, you’ve been fairly consistent with the level of fund balance that you’ve had,” said Shult.

Shult also noted that there was an additional report, the Report on Federal and State Awards, this year, because the district spent more than $750,000 in federal grant dollars in a year. She says they do compliance testing, as well as checking the district’s controls over compliance for proper checks and balances.

“With all of that work, we had no compliance findings,” said Shult. “Which I think is excellent.”

In the business portion of the meeting, board members approved a letter of support for collaboration with Chilson Motors for automotive programming.

“It’s just a letter saying we are open to collaboration and that we would support the teacher part of that,” said Starck.

Starck says the district has already been in contact with Chippewa County Economic Development, CESA and Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Board members also took action to set seat availability for open enrollment concerning students with disabilities. Starck says the district does not have any open enrollment seats available for students with disabilities, since the district already has a high number of students with disabilities.

Starck says one caveat, is students already enrolled and moving up a grade are allowed.

“We don’t want students who are already here to have to leave, just because of that special education piece,” said Starck.

Starck says the district also does not want to divide families, so students with siblings may also be an exemption.

Starck says there would be seats available in every other grade.

Members also approved the hire of Devon Wendt as assistant archery coach, during the consent.

Brad Sonnentag, board member, asked to pull fall coaches from the consent agenda for further discussion at a later meeting.