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released from the gym and ….

released from the gym and go to their classrooms to do activities their teachers have planned or other spaces for morning check-ins. At 7:55 a.m. morning announcements are made and the classroom day begins.

“I am not going to change any of that. For the kids, they won’t know the difference,” Miller said. Explaining that the requested change will simply allow the district to include the time from 7:40 a.m. to 7:55 a.m. as part of the total instructional minutes required by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

The major impact will be felt by those families who do not typically arrive until later. According to assistant principal Richelle Crank-Woller, of the 204 students at Stetsonville school there were only 30 who were not in the gym waiting to go to classrooms before 7:40 a.m. on Monday. She said of these 30 students, it represented 20 families in the district.

Board member Jodie Nernberger, who along with John Zuleger, voted against the change was concerned about students starting their day that early. “It seems too early for their brains to turn on,” she said.

Nernberger’s children attend SES and board member Aemus Balsis noted the board looks to her for feedback of parents whose students attend the school.

Nernberger said she favored a plan to increase the school day starting next year, but was not so sure about starting it right away without communicating the change to parents and families ahead of time.

Zuleger agreed with that sentiment. He said he would favor starting the day seven minutes earlier in order to equal the length of day at MAES, but did not support going the full 15 minutes right away to make up time.

“Eight minutes means a lot when you are trying to get shoes on preschoolers,” Zuleger said.

Barb Krug of Krug Bus Service noted that the students from the Medford area who are bussed to Stetsonville get on their school busses beginning at 6:45 a.m. each day.

Miller assured board members that although for record- keeping purposes they would start the change right away, they would be working with the 20 parents who do not already get their children there earlier to make the transition and not count it against the children.

“It is bookkeeping,” said board member Brian Hallgren noting it allows the district to check the box that they met the number of hours required by the state.

“We are talking about what we are putting on record to report to the DPI,” Miller said.

The major reason to make the change now is because of early-season bad weather days and the mandates for hours of instruction at each school level. The state requires a set number of student learning minutes at the elementary, middle and high school levels with 1,050 hours at grades K-6 and 1,137 hours for grades 7 to 12.

Based on the previous start times, MAES had 27 excess hours remaining in the school year, MAMS had 28 hours excess and MASH had 20 excess hours while SES only had seven hours.

What this meant is that if the district did not make any changes and had one more snow day for the year, all students in the district would be forced to have extra days added at the end of the year. District administrator Pat Sullivan explained that it has been the district’s longtime practice to have it all or none as far as making up snow days at the end of the year rather than having just one school in the district making up days.

By making the change to the SES day now, the district buys more time before having to commit to adding make up days after Memorial Day or deciding to turn existing scheduled in-service days to instruction days.

Zuleger questioned why the district is even having snow days at all. He noted the other schools in the region who instead of calling off school hold virtual learning days, which they are allowed to count as instruction days to meet the state requirements.

Sullivan said there are still a large number of students in the district without internet access which limits who can participate in online learning. Sullivan also questioned the amount of learning that actually takes place on those types of days.

Zuleger said that at some point in the relatively near future the excuse of not having internet access will no longer exists. “They are very, very close to that,” Zuleger said, noting that between the county’s broadband project and providers such as TDS and Spectrum crews are busy putting in fiber all over the area.

“There is a day very soon that excuse won’t hold any water,” he said.

Fleegel said there would not necessarily ever be an end to having snow days. “There is nothing better than waking up to a snow day,” he said.

Other than making the change to buy more of a cushion, board members made no other changes to the school year, delaying a decision on when or how to make up school days until the February board meeting and seeing if there are more bad weather days between now and then.

Aquatics/fitness director

On a 5-3 vote, and after a lengthy discussion, board members approved hiring someone to oversee the pool and high school fitness center on a full-time basis.

Board members Don Everhard, Kurt Werner and Corey Dassow voted against creating the new position while Nernberger, Zuleger, Hallgren, Fleegel and Balsis voted in support of it.

The position will be funded through a combination of the district’s community service accounts (Fund 80) with about 20% of the expense coming through the school’s general fund budget. Fund 80 is a separate school levy amount that the state allows schools to use to cover community- wide activities. Sullivan noted that they have to be careful and are not allowed to use Fund 80 money for instructional purposes. He said within the existing Fund 80 budget there are carryover funds that would cover the position’s pay and benefits.

Sullivan asked for the position as someone who would be in charge of overseeing and running programs for the community at the school pool while also being in charge of the fitness center located in the basement of the high school. He envisioned having the person receive training on the routine maintenance, cleaning and basic repairs for the fitness center equipment in order to prolong the life of the equipment.

According to Sullivan a challenge has been that the district had not had someone who is a full time leader for the pool and fitness center with portions of the duties going to different staff members.

He estimated that the cost of wages and benefits for the full time position would be about $75,000 a year. He said he was confident they would be able to fund it without needing any change to the Fund 80 levy.

“I just think it is needed,” Sullivan said. Board members were not as certain about the need for the position and if there would be enough work to keep them busy and engaged.

Sullivan said he also saw the position as having flexible hours, noting it would be their job to be the staff member there to make sure swim events were set up and timing equipment was in working order.

Fleegel said he would like to see the pool facilities being used more than they are now. There is the potential for things like aquatic aerobics classes for the community during the day, but it requires someone to organize and run them.

Zuleger also noted the headaches for parents of trying to get their children signed up for summer swim lessons. He said if they could take some of the weight off the summer school people to do that throughout the year it would be a help.

He questioned if it would be better to have two half time people with one person for the pool and the other for the fitness center instead of all in one positions. Fleegel said he would leave it up to Sullivan to advertise the positions and see what he was able to get.

Werner noted that the district already is saying the school facilities are being heavily used and questioned why they would want to encourage other groups to use them too.

Everhard noted there is additional cost associated with having the pool open more. He wondered if the district could use the money better to hire another teacher in the district.

The intent for the position is to allow the district to have its facilities open to the public more, including during the school day. “I really like the idea of more community engagement,” Nernberger said. She was concerned about balancing community access especially during the school day with security concerns in the buildings. “How do we continue to maintain safety?” she asked.

Sullivan said that as a full time person, it would be the director’s job to make sure locker rooms are monitored and no one is accessing the schools. “It can be done,” he said.

The board’s action gives Sullivan the OK to begin the hiring process. The position would not begin until the start of the fiscal year in July.

As part of the motion to approve the position, the director will provide monthly reports to the board about what they accomplished and the programs involved. Fleegel noted that if they found the position was not needed, the board could cut it in the future.

In other business, board members:

  Received word that the district had been awarded a $500,000 mental health grant from the federal government. Medford was the only district in the state to receive the federal grant and it will provide $125,000 per year for the next four years to help pay for counseling and other mental health services.

  Received word that the district received a $15,000 grant to pay for additional locally produced fresh produce. The grant will help offset A’viands cost in purchasing fresh produce from area vendors.

  Received word that the district received a grant totaling nearly $300,000 to provide tutoring help at all grade levels including covering transportation costs home for students staying after school for the tutoring times. The district will also begin offering rides home through the grant funding for students attending dances at the high school and middle school fun nights. Sullivan said they would also look at doing it for some sporting events to allow more students to attend.

  Reviewed the district’s strategic plan regarding building infrastructure needs. They reviewed the projects taken on in recent years and work done and what needs to continue to be done. “It seems there is always something to do,” said Director of Buildings and Grounds Dave Makovsky. He said they try to take on a few of them each year. “I think we keep falling a little bit behind,” he said. “It seems like we take two steps forward and one step back.”

  Met in closed session for a personnel matter. When the board came out of closed they went into open and accepted a resignation from Dr. Richard Brunson, MAMS/MASH Choir. Brunson had been on leave prior to this.