Posted on

Principal resigns, positive referendum update

Principal resigns, positive referendum update
A rendering of the outside of the middle and high school after the project to connect the two buildings is completed.
Principal resigns, positive referendum update
A rendering of the outside of the middle and high school after the project to connect the two buildings is completed.

Kirsten Budimlija resigned from her position as principal of the Rib Lake middle and high schools following the 2023-2024 school year.

The Rib Lake Board of Education voted to accept her resignation on June 26. “We are appreciative for her years of service in our district and for the lasting impacts she made on our students and community,” said District Administrator Travis Grubbs following the meeting. Referendum The mill rate for the Rib Lake referendum will likely be significantly lower than estimated.

“[T]he new estimated mill rate impact is $1.26 per $1,000 of property value. The estimated mill rate impact that we used during the referendum was $1.46 per $1,000 of property value. It is all still estimated until the tax levy is ultimately set by the Board in October, but we have actual numbers now from the bond sale to estimate this much more accurately. The main factors for the change being the bond sale and the average interest rate on the bonds we sold. We estimated during the referendum that the average interest rate on our bonds would be 5.25%. The market has been a little turbulent the past few months, but with the first of June bringing more banks to the table with more funds to invest, we were able to enter the market at an ideal time and we ended up with a significantly lower average interest rate on the portion of the bond sale we completed in June. In that we sold 14.35 million in bonds at an average interest rate of 4.58%. That decrease in rate compared to the estimated rate during the referendum is what has led to the mill rate impact falling from $1.46 to $1.26 per $1,000 of property value,” Grubbs stated after the meeting.

Grubbs credited the underwriter, Baird, for attaining the improved interest rate. Grubbs stated that the underwriter saw an opportunity to get a lower interest rate and decided to act on it, assuming the risk of seeking the reduced rate and guaranteeing to the district that the bonds would still be sold.

“We went into that day with a 4.6% [interest rate] and got a 4.58%,” Grubbs said. “We definitely benefited from this.”

In other financial news, the board voted to give authorization to borrow up to $1,000,000 to meet the immediate expenses of operating and maintaining the school district for the 2024-2025 school year. Building design Rib Lake high school and middle school will have a new look soon.

The board voted to move forward with the design plans for the building addition that will connect the high school with the middle school. “The focal point is Rib Lake and the school colors. This is where you want to come,” Grubbs said of the design.

“I like it, especially at night. It looks great,” board member Peter Meyer added.

Brightening up the schools was an emphasis of the addition design plans. “As long as the windows get bigger I’m happy. One of the things that has always bothered me about the high school and middle school is they are like dungeons. If you have natural light, it gives you more energy. You want to be there,” boardmember Rollie Thums remarked. Test scores Rib Lake’s state Forward Test scores for grades 3-5 were above average. “We see [students] are growing year over year,” said Aimee Blomberg, elementary Title I director..

In both English and math, grades 3-5 had a higher percentage of students in the advanced and proficient categories than the state average.

Improving reading scores has been a focus in the district. “In 2020-2021, only 15% of 2nd grade students were projected to be proficient or advanced on the Forward in 3rd Grade. This year, 45% of 2nd Grade students are projected to be proficient or advanced,” Blomberg’s report states. She attributed some of the gain to the new curriculum Superkids that was implemented in the 20222023 school year.

Other positives from Blomberg’s report include, “In 2022-23, 0% of 4th Graders were below basic on Reading (Forward). In 2022-23, 0% of 4th Graders were below basic in Math (Forward). In 2023-24, 0% of 2nd Graders were below basic in Reading (MAP). In 2023-24, 0% of 1st Graders were below basic in Math (MAP).”

However, exam score progress was not uniform across all grades and tests. Kindergarteners in the district did not meet their Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) goals in either English or math. To meet an AGR goal, a student must either test at a high enough level on the NWEA MAP assessment or display significant score improvement from fall to spring. The district aims to have 80% of students on target to meet their AGR goals. In kindergarten, 58% of students met their goal in reading, and 62% of students reached their goal in math.

“What happened to our kindergarteners? They did not meet it in reading or math,” Thums asked.

Blomberg and Grubbs provided several rationales for the kindergarten scores. First, Blomberg told the board that 80% “is a very rigorous goal.” Another potential reason for the scores is that kindergarteners struggle taking tests on computers. Blomberg recounted a situation in which a kindergarten student did not ask for help getting the sound to work until question 30 on an exam that required audio for each question.

Alternatively, the kindergartenNWEAMAPresults may only reflect a difference between skills the district decides to develop in kindergarten and the content tested on the exam. Grubbs explained that the content on the test may be concepts that the students have yet to be exposed to because of the sequence of the Rib Lake reading curriculum. Early in reading education, the district seeks to deeply build foundational skills instead of touching on a higher number of concepts. “If you look at a child over the course of elementary school, it is our belief that by the time they are in 5th grade, they will be better off,” Grubbs stated.

While the NWEA MAP assessment content may not exactly align with the curriculum, the district uses it because it is one of the few tests that follows a student from early elementary school to high school, providing valuable insight into student growth over the course of their time in the district.

In other grades’ AGR results, 1st grade met their math goal (91%) but did not meet their reading goal (59%). 2nd grade met their reading goal (97%) but did not meet their math goal (75%). 3rd grade met their reading goal (98%) and math goal (93%).

Blomberg also provided Title I updates for the elementary school. Rib Lake Elementary School runs a school-wide Title I program. “Rather than a targeted program where only specific students benefit, we run a school-wide program that allows all students to benefit,” Blomberg explained. This includes intervention and classroom support for all students. Furthermore, students who need extra support are receiving pull-out instruction. 44 students were supported with more intensive instruction in reading as well as 41 in math. Library plan The board voted to approve the library plan presented by District Librarian Sara Robisch. In the plan, Robisch underscored two primary goals for the library in 20242027. Firstly, the library will work to consolidate the middle school and high school library. This task will entail weeding outdated materials and organizing the library in an age appropriate manner. Secondly, Robisch will work with the IT department to createwebsite page on the district site with all of the online subscriptions and materials. Reports Grubbs read a summer school update. Students in summer school have been engaged in cooking, physical fitness, reading, and STEM activities. During the summer school session, a lunch service is open to those age 18 and under. There has been an average of 45 students for breakfast and 85 for lunch.

School Nurse Maris Pernsteiner delivered the annual Nursing Services Report to the board. She reported there were 66 students with medication orders last school year. There are eight Department of Public Instruction (DPI) staff members trained and authorized to administer medication to students. Pernsteiner completes a weekly review to ensure accurate documentation of medication in the schools. She also routinely meets with parents regarding medications.

Continuing with Pernsteiner’s report, 34 staff and coaches are CPR certified. Pernsteiner is hoping to hold a CPR certification class this August. As a result of the school vision screening in collaboration with the Taylor County Health Department, 230 students had their vision checked, which resulted in 17 referrals. For the 2024-2025 school year, the meningitis vaccine is required for 7th and 12th graders. There were 17 cases of COVID in the Rib Lake District last year. The district will need to contract with a new medical provider as the current advisor, Dr. Valentijn, is leaving Aspirus clinic.

Pernsteiner also spoke about the Wisconsin Local Wellness Policy Triennial Assessment Report Card. The comprehensive score for the district policy was 64/100. While the score seems low, Pernsteiner said it will be improved with simple policy wording changes. She stated the district will complete the actions that would reflect a higher score, so improving the score is a matter of putting those actions into words in the policy.

During the district administrator report, Grubbs said the middle school water heater failed and was replaced. He reported that the school forest boardwalk project is nearly half completed. 214 hours of work have been dedicated to the project by area volunteers. After the first week of summer school, the school experienced a power outage, which caused the freezers to stop cooling. As a result, the frozen food for summer school spoiled and is being replaced.

Special Education Case Manager Jodi Radtke delivered The 2023-2024 Special Education Report. 100% of Rib Lake students with disabilities graduated last school year. The total prevalence of Rib Lake students with disabilities was 17.2% in the 2023-2024 year. Other business In other resignations and hires, Paul Yanko resigned from his position as a varsity football assistant coach. To replace Yanko, TomNoennig and Kevin Grundy were hired to split assistant coaching duties. Garrett Richardson, a recent Rib Lake graduate, was hired as a middle school football coach.

Outside of football staff, Jennifer Stibs was hired to be the head cook at Rib Lake. “She does have experience with the managerial side and paperwork side. I think she will do a very good job with that,” Grubbs commented.

The district will work with CESA to find a temporary speech language pathologist to fill in while the current speech language pathologist is on maternity leave.

The next board meeting was rescheduled to 6:30 p.m. on July 31 at Rib Lake Elementary.