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Cadott School Board; Extra hands help get students into the swing of school year

Cadott School Board; Extra hands help get students into the swing of school year Cadott School Board; Extra hands help get students into the swing of school year

Cadott superintendent Jenny Starck (third from right) gave an update on Title 1 and family engagement, during a Cadott School Board Committee of the Whole meeting Sept. 26. She says one area where the district would like to improve, is family engagement, and that they may hire a part-time coordinator to help connect students and families to schools. Photo by Julia Wolf

By Julia Wolf

“We’ve had a little bit of a unique start to the school year,” said superintendent Jenny Starck, during a Cadott School Board Committee of the Whole meeting Sept. 26.

She says Cadott saw nine students new to the district, with special education needs in the elementary school, when typically, they would have one or two.

A number of students are also struggling to adjust to the structure of school, especially at the 4K and kindergarten levels, and there are at least nine students between those two grades, who need extra help with toileting.

“We’ve temporarily added some additional hands,” said Starck. “The idea is, with some of these, as we get into the school year, they learn the structure, it gets better with toileting, that we won’t need that help permanently.”

She says they are working around the new situations and trying to get pieces in place. The hope is by October or November, the situation will improve, as students adjust to school structure.

“I was at a conference and other districts have seen some of the same thing,” said Starck.

She says those at the conference thought some of it may be a residual effect from the COVID-19 pandemic, when wellbaby check-ups and birth-three referrals were postponed, or skipped, so extra needs were not caught until the child started school as a four or five year old.

Board president Cory LaNou asked if there is any sort of screening prior to the start of school. Starck says they do have that for three and four-year-olds.

“None of these students had attended that,” said Starck, adding some of the students moved into the district.

She says they can try to reach out more with information about the screening days in the future.

Becca Blanchette, board member, also asked how finding substitute staff members has gone, with the combined elementary phy ed/substitute teacher position this year. Starck says it is still tricky to find subs, when needed, especially at the secondary level.

“As the schedule works out for the phy ed person, they have Mondays and Fridays that they are available for subbing,” said Starck. “And just to try to make it simpler, we did, Mondays would be at the secondary building, and Fridays would be at the elementary.”

She says that worked well and so far, they have not had a day where they didn’t need him to sub. However, that has not completely resolved the issue and there are still some days the district is short subs.

Continuing on the topic of staff, the board approved the hire of Oliver Jones, C-team basketball coach, and Jeff Golden, custodian. The resignation of Erin Pilgrim, paraprofessional, was also accepted during the meeting.

I have truly enjoyed my time at the school and with the staff, wrote Pilgrim.

Starck also shared an update on Title 1 and the family engagement policy, during the meeting. Title 1 is a federal program which provides funding through the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) regulations.

“The money we get is based on our free and reduced lunch count,” said Starck, adding the services they provide are also based on that.

Starck says they encourage families to fill out the free and reduced lunch form if they qualify, even if they do not want their student to receive free or reduced lunch, because it helps the district receive more funding.

She says the district gets about $198,000 through the program, which covers some salaries, materials and staff training.

“One of the things we discovered we have to do more intensely, and we knew during COVID it did not go as well, was family engagement activities,” said Starck.

Since they knew they would want to do more family engagement this year, Starck says they want to carry over $48,000 from the prior school year. She says they would like to add a part-time family engagement coordinator, through the carryover funds, to help connect students and families with schools.

Board approval is required to do the carryover and it will be on the October agenda for a vote.