|3/27/2020 1:04:00 PM|
Bohnsack new DHS principal, board discusses
issues they will be facing at next meeting
The Dodgeville School Board met virtually for a special session Tuesday, hired a new principal and discussed some agenda items they expect have be handled at their April 13 meeting.
How those items will be discussed is another story.
Before they worked on the what and how, they unanimously approved a contract for Ryan Bohnsack for the recently vacated principal position. Bohnsack has been a teacher and coach in the district and most recently has served as assistant principal at the high school.
"This allows him to wear the label instead of just doing all the work," said District Administrator Dr. Jeff Jacobson as he congratulated Bohnsack on the new position.
Laura Nyberg, who had been issued a letter of non-renewal had that non-renewal rescinded as part of a separation agreement she now has with the district.
In another personnel matter the board accepted the resignation of special education teacher Anna Haag. Haag was hired on probationary status and had to complete her licensure to have the position permanently but she was unable to do so.
In other items requiring action the board suspended a portion of policy 181 which requires a school board member to be present to vote which cannot happen if the board has to meet virtually to stay within the state issued guidelines during the pandemic. They can now vote electronically during the public health crisis.
They also suspended a portion of policy 151 that allows them to adopt policy unanimously at any meeting instead of just a regular meeting.
The third policy was a new one, numbered 188 which allows board members to participate in meetings via technology.
The public health crisis brought about by COVID-19 has altered how education is delivered throughout the state, and the Dodgeville district is no exception. Dr. Jacobson updated the board, with information also provided by Bohnsack and elementary principal Scott Marty, about how various components are being delivered. Dr. Jacobson said he feels the taxpayers are owed a working staff to educate children at this time and he feels the staff is doing its best. Classwork is delivered online or via work sent to the homes. Teachers are doing a good job keeping in touch with their students and providing them any help they need, according to Jacobson.
"We are doing the best we can and also being accountable to the taxpayers," Jacobson said.
Student representative McKenna Bucci, a senior at Dodgeville, said she has been doing virtual classwork and feels it is going fine.
"I had four days of classes last week and have been keeping busy,"she said,
Board member Jessica Wieczorek said she is impressed with what is being done at the elementary school level and related what her children have been doing which has been positive for them.
Dr. Jacobson said one of the problems encountered has been some students having access due to poor internet availability. He said he had ordered 100 hot spots but was promised 50 and hopes they are up and running next week.
"That will allow students to access services with their phones," he said.
The administrative team has been discussing activities students may be missing if school does not start until late in the school year or not at all the rest of the school year. Graduation was one of the items discussed and both Dr. Jacobson and Bohnsack said that every effort will be made to hold some sort of ceremony. They agreed the date for the event could be changed and an outside ceremony may be possible.
"We will do what we can to make it special but what we may be allowed to do is another thing," Dr. Jacobson said.
Bohnsack said staff has been working on making sure students will have all the necessary credits to be able to graduate. He said everyone is trying to be consistent and the staff will meet Monday to discuss the progress.
Board member Mike Knoedler asked about the hunt for the top grade point average and stressed whatever is decided has to be fair for everyone.
Board president Mike Humke asked how the breakfast and lunch programs are going.
Dr. Jacobson said between Dodgeville and Ridgeway there are 150 or so meals provided which he feels is good but also wonders if that number should be more like 350.
"There are no guidelines from the federal government at this time and we need to get the word out that these meals are free to everyone regardless of income," said Dr. Jacobson. "We need to let everyone know that."
He said the link to order lunches is still up and that they can also be ordered by calling.
Also discussed was the availability of free meals at Hi-Point in Ridgeway and through the various food pantry offerings.
Dr. Jacobson said he was asked if there was going to be an appeal to the DPI to waive the state mandate for hours.
"I don't see why we would have to with the way we are operating," he said. "We plan on doing the best we can for our students."
If school does not go back in session the rest of the school year, it would impact athletics, prom and other events enjoyed by students. Bucci said she has talked with juniors who already have their dresses and may not be able to wear them this year so it is suggested that next year the prom be a junior/senior event.
Delivery of board and committee meetings was discussed. With 10 people in a room at the same time the magic number and with three items coming up where extensive public comment is expected, the board discussed how to accommodate those wanting to speak. Options included having people speak in single fashion so as to not violate the number of participants allowed or having a sign up and being able to join the meeting virtually.
Issues expected to draw comment are potential decisions on four or five day ELP (early learning program), moving the fifth grade to the middle school and the future of a school in Ridgeway.
Families of potential ELP students are being surveyed as to their desires for five day, four day or status quo ELP with Marty the point person in gathering information.
Dr. Jacobson said funding for all day ELP would no doubt have to come from Fund 80 as he doubts the legislature will consider their funding until next session or the session after that.
Four day ELP would allow a planning day for staff while five day ELP would require planning to be done differently.
Knoedler said he feels five day would be better for child care.
Families of fifth graders are also being surveyed with DMS principal Sally Baxter the point person.
Both principals will share the results of the surveys at the appropriate committee meeting prior to April 13. The curricular/co-curricular committee will be using the data to make a recommendation.
The third issue, the possible closure of the RES facility has drawn considerable interest from Ridgeway residents and officials since a committee meeting held in Ridgeway last month and again from a delegation that spoke at the last regular school board meeting.
Plans were being made to hold meetings with Ridgeway officials but those fell through with the pandemic which has limited participation at meetings. Ridgeway village president John Stein has asked to become involved in discussion and meeting but any meeting would have to obey the numbers limit and would probably have to be held virtually.
Board member Tom McGraw said he would reach out to Stein to get his input and asked Dr. Jacobson to do the same.
Further committee meetings where the three items may be discussed are set for April 6 and April 9.
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