Rib Lake schools seeking to raise the bar on academics
For Rib Lake elementary principal Jon Dallmann, the secret to success is a simple one.
“You learn from people who are doing better than you,” Dallmann said to members of the Rib Lake School Board at their Nov. 14 meeting.
Dallman was reporting to the board about the recent state report cards. Rib Lake as a district did well in scores, with the elementary school being just .2 points below the threshold of greatly exceeding expectations. The school and district have scored consistently high since the statewide report cards were implemented.
Dallman explained that one of the things the district does is invest in having staff visit other high-achieving schools to see what practices those schools are doing in order to improve education in Rib Lake. He reported on a recent visit to Walker Elementary in West Allis, a CESA 1 school that consistently has been among the best in the state as far as outcomes.
“We were encouraged that we are already doing a lot of things they are doing,” he said, noting the emphasis on project-based assignments and instruction. He said the goal is to present challenges and opportunities.
“If we set the bar too low, they are not going to jump over it on their own,” Dallman said, of the need to constantly be raising the bar for both students and teachers. One takeaway from the visit that staff found intriguing was Walker’s use of multi-age classrooms with students in grades one, two and three together in a shared learning environment.
District administrator Rick Cardey explained that the state report card scores, with highlights on specific areas, are a tool for the district to set priorities. “We use them continually to evaluate how we are doing,” he said, noting the goal is to see growth in every area.
“We want to make sure we are teaching effectively to the standards,” Dallman said, noting that such things as the timing of the testing in the school year can impact the scores.
“This is not the only indicator of our student success, but I think it is a good indictor of our student success,” Cardey said, explaining there are other classroom tools used to measure and track individual student achievement.
In other business, board members:
_ Received an update on the installation of a new emergency generator. The project is expected to cost about $18,500 with the cost of a plumber to connect natural gas line to the generator. Cardey said he opted for an inside generator rather that one outside as a way to prolong its expected usable life. He said the plan is to have the generator installed over the Christmas vacation.
_ Discussed the possibility of replacing some portions of the school roof in summer 2020. Cardey said that while the roof replacement was scheduled for this summer, with the replacement of the back-up generator the building maintenance funds may not be available in the budget. He said they have had contractors patch spots and that there are currently no leaks. At this point he suggested not being on the schedule for Kulps to do the roofs next summer, but that this could change over the course of the year as they watch the budget.
_ Discussed on first reading a change to the district’s policy regarding graduation requirements. Specifi cally, the changes address how to handle foreign exchange students. Under the policy change, exchange students who meet the graduation requirements would receive a Rib Lake diploma. Those who do not, will be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony, but will receive a certificate of attendance. Cardey explained that in the past the district did not have many exchange students, the number has been increasing and he said he felt a policy was needed on graduation to be consistent. It will come back to the board for a final vote next month.
_ Approved the district safety plan. This is reviewed annually and also includes a law enforcement safety assessment of the district. Rib Lake police chief Derek Beckstrand, who also serves as the school resource officer for the district, said he identified a few minor items including additional outdoor lighting and the landscaping around the middle school. “I could hide in there and no one could see me,” he said. It was noted that the landscaping is scheduled to be changed next spring.
_ Received a report on the district’s annual audit. Cardey said there were no major items of concern and that concerns from previous years regarding doing budget revisions for category changes was rectified for this year. “It came back pretty good,” Cardey said of the audit.
_ Approved final payment for bus number 66 despite complaints from board member Rollie Thums that the particular brand has a reputation for having “junk.” “Well it is all ours now,” said board member Jason Dananey. Cardey reported that a new school bus costs about $85,000.