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Athens school board signs Maple Grove charter contract

The Athens Board of Education on Monday approved a five-year charter school contract with K-5 Maple Grove School in Hamburg beginning in the 2020-21 school year..

School board members also met in closed session and then reconvened into open session to hire six staff members who are currently employed by the Merrill Area School District at Maple Grove School.

The Athens school board is retaining the following Maple Grove School full-time staff: Kindergarten teacher Danyelle Eberhardt, first grade teacher Treva Etten, second grade teacher Alyssa Narloch, third grade teacher Jessica Buhr and administrative assistant Tina DeRaimo. The Athens School District is also retaining part time K-5 aide Colleen Dvorak and part-time food service worker Tari Williams through Taher Inc. of Minnetonka, Minn., which caters lunch to Maple Grove School.

The school board still needs to hire a part-time principal or dean of students at Maple Grove School for the 2020-21 school year. Current Maple Grove principal Dawn Nonn is retiring at the end of this school year.

Jeff Mastin, Athens schools superintendent, read a thank you note to the school board and him from Maple Grove educator Buhr at the beginning of Monday’s meeting.

“I want to personally thank you for your interest, hard work and continued efforts that went into keeping Maple Grove School open for generations to come,” Buhr said. “As the third-grade teacher here, I absolutely love my job. This is truly a wonderful family and environment to remain a part of.”

Peter Fromm Wade, who worked for years to keep the 150-year-old Maple Grove School open, said Tom Nieman of Mequon is still in the process of purchasing the property that includes Maple Grove School from the Merrill Area School District.

Nieman is a cousin of Fromm Wade who owns Fromm Family Pet Food in Mequon. Fromm Wade said Nieman will lease the Maple Grove School building to the Athens School District to use after he buys the land.

In other news:

_ School board members voted to increase Athens Elementary School pre-Kindergarten aide Nancy Ewan’s hours from part-time to full-time for the 2020-21 school year. Athens middle/ high school family and consumer education teacher Shelia Nevienski is also having her work hours increased from three quarters to full time employment for the 2020-21 school year.

The school district is hiring Crystal Witt-Whybrow, who is a middle school special education aide this school year, as a sixth through 12th grade at-risk counselor/district learning coordinator and middle school counselor for the 2020-21 school year.

_ The school board accepted the resignations of Aaron Ellenbecker as co-head varsity boys basketball coach and the retirement of Roger Bloomer as business education teacher.

_ School board members tabled a decision on youth baseball field improvements until the April school board meeting. School board member Tom Ellenbecker said there are a large number of youth baseball and softball players participating in the sports this spring, but there aren’t enough ball diamonds on the school property.

Ellenbecker wants to have the Wisconsin Department of Transportation move the 55 mile per hour limit on CTH M in the village of Athens further west for the safety of children chasing after foul balls on the diamond on the far northwest corner of the school district’s property. He also wants to erect a fence between the ball diamond and CTH M for children’s safety.

_ The school board voted to allow the school district to use $556,000 in ESSER II funds it received from the federal government to improve air quality in the Athens school buildings. Mastin said the Athens School District should receive $1.1 million in ESSER III funds.