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May 28, 2020

4/24/2020 11:56:00 AM
New district administrator attends virtual board meeting

It was a night of new faces, some in the now and possibly some in the later
The now....
The Barneveld School Board, meeting held over ZOOM in a virtual setting, featured the acceptance of a signed contract from the person who will be guiding the ship starting July 1. The contract is for the superintendent position and it was from Joe Price, who is presently at Twin Lakes. After the board accepted the contract and at the end of the regular session, Price told the board he is "super excited."
"I met with my family and we are all looking forward to this," Price said. He added he is meeting Monday with outgoing administrator Brett Stousland to begin the transition.
"We will find a way to. make it work," Price said.
Price knows the road has some ruts and curves in it at the moment with the COVID-19 pandemic which has shuttered schools in Wisconsin for the rest of the year.
"This is a chilling time," Price said. "But we will get through it."
Price has been performing double duty since spring break when an English teacher in the district left, causing him to move in to a teaching role again.
"We are all experts at educating," Price said. "What you are doing at Barneveld speaks volumes."
The second new face is that of Nick Meyer who was elected to the board for the first time. He and the other top vote getter, Rhonda Mullin, took the oath of office.
Meyer replaces long time board member and current president Tami Bowser who finished third in balloting. She has served the district for 18 years.
Stousland thanked her for her service and dedication
"We have gone through the ups and downs of the district and you have always approached it with the best interests of the students and the community at heart," Stousland said about Bowser.
More on the new face theory is a possibility in next year's class make-up.
Stousland told the board since the Dodgeville School Board voted to close Ridgeway Elementary he has received several completed open enrollment applications and several requests for information.
Stousland said accepting those and other students should be no problem unless it forces another section.
Stousland also said if someone applies with siblings already in the district they get first chance and that a lottery system could be used depending on the numbers available.
"Districts do not receive full reimbursement for open enrollment students so we have to be somewhat careful," he said. "I tell the applicants we are a growing community and they are welcome to move here."
"That way we would have full reimbursement and tax money also," he added.
Principal Erin Eslinger was asked to update the board on the distance learning forced on districts when the Governor ordered school closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Barneveld is an unbelievable community," the principal said. "Parents are working hard with students and staff with distance learning."
Eslinger said a recent survey sent to parents came back with 97% saying things are going well.
But the distance learning is not without problems.
"We are having some problems with poor internet availability in some parts of the district," Eslinger said. "We plan to survey again over the next five weeks."
She added the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has guidelines in place for learning at each age group. She said the department recommends one hour for 4K-2nd, two to three hours for grades 3-5, three to four hours for middle schools and four hours for high school.
She said teachers have been working hard and doing a tremendous job working outside the building. She added there are still daily announcements done by students, a hello each day from a staff member, a spirit session by Heidi Bosch and the seniors are currently being honored on social media.
Eslinger discussed the pass/fail system that is underway for grading and stressed the focus is on learning rather than grades. Students having trouble are being granted extra time.
"What is difficult is being ahead of the game with pass/fail because of all the changes," said Eslinger.
Stousland, who has been in contact often with the DPI, said the message they are giving is "do what you have to do." He said there is always the question about are kids only doing the minimum but he feels those in AP courses want to do the work so they can do well on tests.
"We get emails every day from parents and from collogues from other schools," Stousland said. "The parents seem satisfied we are doing what we can and people from other schools are not seeing the luxury of what we have here in Barneveld."
"Every circus needs a ring leader," Stousland continued. "Erin has been that for us. She is holding everyone to high standards and has kept things going."
He also said the support staff has been making contacts and make things better every day.
"We have a lot of unsung heroes here," he said.
Stousland also discussed various scenarios with summer school.
"We have received $30,000 to $40,000 for summer school in the past," Stousland said. "If we decide to go virtual the reimbursements will not be the same."
In other business the board voted to pay staff another month and will also pay spring coaches. Board member Tadd Owens abstained on the coach pay motion as he is involved with the softball program.
The board learned the district will receive a waiver for face to face hours from the DPI.
They also received a request from Vortex to sponsor a sign under one of the basketball scoreboards. The company will provide the $10,000 sponsor fee as called for by board policy. Stousland said the money can be used at the board's desire but suggested it be considered for future building projects.

Ed. Note:
Last week's issue had incomplete voting totals for the Barneveld School Board. The correct totals with the top two elected are Nick Meyer 364, Rhonda Mullin 333, Tami Bowser 315 and Mitch Danz 229.

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