Athens tries to set graduation
Virtual ceremony planned if Safer at Home rules remain in place
The Athens Board of Education on Monday set a date for a traditional senior commencement assuming that Gov. Tony Ever’s Safer at Home lockdown doesn’t extend past May 26 into summer, but also approved other plans if it does.
The school board unanimously voted to approve holding a traditional senior graduation ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 25, in the high school gym nasium if Safer at Home orders are not extended. Athens High School graduation is normally held on the third Saturday in May each year.
If the graduation ceremony can’t be held in July, board members said, it will take place sometime in August in the high school gym. If the August date won’t work, board members said the school would hold a virtual online graduation ceremony.
Juli Gauerke-Peter, Athens middle and high school principal, recommended the tentative July graduation after she received results back from surveys she sent to high school seniors asking them when they wanted the graduation ceremony to be held.
“We want to have a traditional high school graduation ceremony like we’ve always done in the past, but I do have backup plans in my mind in case that can’t happen,” Gauerke-Peter said.
She is currently discussing with the high school junior class advisors when they’d want to reschedule prom. Gauerke- Peter is also talking to middle school students about when to reschedule the eighth grade graduation ceremony. She told the school board she and other area high school principals are working with the Wausau Area Chamber of Commerce to plan a virtual Honoring Excellence banquet, which is normally held at Memories Ballroom in rural Marathon each year to give recognition to the high school senior valedictorians and salutatorians from each school.
Gauerke-Peter said Craig Diedrich, Athens middle and high school athletic director, toldschool board members they are discussing how to virtually honor student athletes during throughout the month of May.
In other board business:
_ The school board voted to amend its 2019-20 bus transportation contract with Fischer Bus Co. to pay 78 percent of its bill for April. The school district paid its entire bill for March, and Athens schools superintendent Jeff Mastin said it’s unknown right now what percentage of the bills for May and June the school district would be responsible to pay. Mastin said the Athens, Edgar and Marathon school districts that contract with Fischer Bus Co. are abiding by the busing company’s request to still pay them during spring months even though school is closed. The payment allows the bus company to continue paying its drivers and not risk losing them to other jobs.
“Our thinking here is if we continue sending money to the bus company, then it would give us credits on our future payments if it receives a small business loan under from the federal government’s CARES Act,” Mastin said.
_ The school board voted to hire Tianna Borchardt as a third grade teacher and Kira Kalepp as a fourth grade teacher at Athens Elementary School for the 2020-21 school year. The school board approved individual teacher contracts for the 2020-21 school year and it tabled a decision on paying spring sports coaches until the next school board meeting in May.
_ School board members agreed to renew the district’s health insurance plan with Security Health Plan, Marshfi eld, for the next two years. The plan was negotiated by a six school district Marathon County Special Education health insurance consortium.
The two-year contract with Security Health Plan calls for a 3.4 percent premium increase during the first year and a capped 8 percent increase in the second year of the contract.
_ The school board decided to have its buildings and grounds committee meet to further discuss the School District of Athens facility study conducted by Performance Services of Waukesha in February before the entire school board discusses the report and possibly takes action at its meeting in May.
_ School board members Tim Krueger, Steve Janke and Jessica Frahm took their oaths of office at the beginning of Monday’s meeting. All three school board members ran unopposed and were re-elected in April. Krueger will remain school board president, Janke as vice president, Frahm as clerk and Shannon Peel as treasurer.
_ The school board held a special meeting/public hearing, that only lasted three minutes before Monday’s regular monthly board meeting, to approve a resolution to waive the state’s required instructional hours for students for the 2019-20 school year.