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Plans moving forward for in-person learning

Lake Holcombe School Board

School buses will roll Sept. 1, as Lake Holcombe School begins their educational year. According to a survey that was sent out to parents in regard to the school reopening, almost 100 percent who answered the survey, said yes to in-person learning.

Superintendent Kurt Lindau shared the reopening update at a regular school board meeting Aug. 24.

“I think all districts are kind of planning in the same direction,” said Lindau.

Lindau says even though parents and students might not like it, if the kids want to attend school, they must wear a mask on the bus and in the school, per state mandate.

“We are attempting to reopen school to the safest extent practicable,” said Lindau. “I think that if we all work together, we can pull this off.”

Because Lake Holcombe is one of several small districts in the area, Lindau says they have one of the best chances to pull off reopening, with the quality of the staff, and cooperation of students and community members. For now, Lake Holcombe is planning a five-day, in-house schedule.

“Things can change,” said Lindau.

It’s still unclear how many students will attend in-person, but principal Mark Porter says he has not had anyone say their kids won’t come because they don’t think it’s safe to do so.

“The mask is the issue,” said Porter.

Board treasurer Anneleise Willmarth asked if there are a certain number of days students must attend to receive funding. Lindau said there is a way to record hours of virtual instruction and that he will look into that.

Sports will take place, with athletes given six tickets for immediate family members to attend the games. Lindau said he knows it’s not what athletes would like, but says the school is doing the best they can, with the guidelines that are set down.

“…We’re trying to provide you opportunities and some normalcy,” said Lindau.

Lindau said many waivers are out there, dealing with the school waiving a variety of issues, but mentioned that the district is concentrating on re-starting school.

“Right now, our focus isn’t on waiving anything,” he said, “it’s focused on trying to start school and have it as normal as we possibly can and as safely as we possibly can.”

To help with safety, the school resource officer (SRO) program is underway, after a year of discussion with the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department. Two officers will be seen in the school on a part-time basis, so students get to know law enforcement and build trust with them.

“The goal of the program is very simple,” said Lindau. “To create a positive working relationship between the students, staff and community…we’re excited to have that program finally come off the ground.”

As part of business, members agreed to 2019-20 budget revisions, to shift money between functions, to account for expenses that hadn’t been budgeted for.

“This is just reporting line items that needed changes,” said district accountant Lisa Spletter. “It doesn’t report any changes with revenues.”

The 2020-21 substitute rates were also changed, as Lindau said districts are concerned about finding subs this year. In looking at what other districts are paying, following Lindau’s recommendation, members approved upping a full-day teacher’s pay from $95 to $110, and a half day from $50 to $55; paraprofessional and food service from $10 to $12 an hour; and custodial from $12 to $14 an hour.

“It kind of puts us in the middle,” said Lindau.

The board also accepted the resignation of high school math teacher Dylan Haling, who unexpectedly left to take a job in the Chippewa School District.

I appreciate the opportunity that the Lake Holcombe School District has provided me, wrote Haling.

Filling the open position, is Heath Hill, who is the brother-in-law of one of the teachers at Lake Holcombe and who previ- ously taught school, after graduating from UW-Eau Claire.

“He kind of landed in our lap,” said Lindau, who says he appreciates Hill agreeing to help the school out, at least for this year.

The board also approved the hire of Greg Anderson as the cross country coach; accepted $92.55 from Eastbay Lodge’s Dine & Donate events for the music department; and $300 from the Camaraderie Club/Katherine Swanson for school supplies.