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June 19, 2021

5/19/2021 9:33:00 AM
Barneveld School Board holds lengthy discussion on face coverings, Douglas and Zander take Oath of Office

By Kasi Greenwood
Although the discussion on facemasks for the Barneveld School District took place towards the end, it counted for almost an hour's worth of discussion.
The Barneveld School Board (including newly elected member Denise Douglas and re-elected member Brad Zander) discussed how the district should proceed, in terms of wearing them.
District Superintendent Joe Price said with the State Supreme Court overturning the mask mandate on March 31, they have continued their communication with the Iowa County Health Department. The district has maintained the stance of adhering to guidelines set by the Iowa County Health Department, and Price recommended that the district continue doing so and wearing masks as recommended by the health department.
"We're getting close to the end here, with vaccinations ramping up," Price said. "But until we have that go ahead, I strongly believe that we need to continue the practices that we've been doing."
Board member Nick Meyers asked if there was a short term end goal and what criteria needs to be met. He also stated his opinion that the guidelines are primarily for the school.
Price said it is more working "with" the school, instead of "for." He said that in meetings they go through the county numbers, county school guidelines for school guidance, and state COVID and vaccination activity to determine the best recommendations. He added that one thing that really set this county apart from Dane County is their decisions are for a much larger population.
Erin Eslinger informed board members that this was the Iowa County Health Department's recommendation, and it is not a mandate. She also clarified that the health department will be releasing phase three instructions very soon.
"They've been very forthcoming in communicating with us," Eslinger said.
Board member Amy Hugill informed other board members that how they're basing their decisions isn't really going to affect much. The motion made would not affect the verbiage for the remainder of the school year.
Meyer said that he would be fine with following the guidelines until the end of the school year, but wanted to know when this will end.
"Everyone wants to know when this will end," Hugill responded.
Board member Brad Zander said that this is the first time that the school board has had control in making decisions up until now.
Board member Tadd Owens said that the district has been following the Iowa County Health Departments throughout the school year, and also agreed that the pandemic can't go on forever.
"This is the first time we've had to make this decision, but again right or wrong we rode the Iowa County horse through this whole year," Owens said. "That's why I am not opposed to Iowa County even if they make some changes two weeks from now. I'm not opposed to that recommendation for the last three weeks of the school. My recommendation is we rode this horse for nine months. Don't jump off of it now, when we've been following it from day one."
The Barneveld School Board voted to continue using a mask in accordance with the Iowa County Health Department guidelines through the 2020-2021 school year.
In the public comments section, Heidi Bosch expressed concerns about the framework of the retirement benefit, and that attempts to discuss the matter have been dismissed.
"We have previously verbally requested to meet with the committee on this and since the March board meeting we have twice sent direct email requesting times for a meeting," Bosch said. "But we were not invited to meet and did not even receive a response to our second email. We did file an open records request and are concerned about some of the information that we received. We want to work with the board. To ensure that the qualifications are applied fairly to all teachers who are currently teaching and those who have retired in the past two years."
Eslinger also discussed Professional Development and the district has been working with CESA 6 in the math and literacy, in class coaching, small group instruction as well as support and growth for students,
"They've been giving us not only in class support, but also helping us with future planning and looking into data," Eslinger said. "So that's been welcome outside support for our staff." She also stated that alternative options include Options in Education from Mineral Point, and alternative education through Southwest Tech.
She also informed board members that staff is vaccinated and also said that some changes on virtual instruction percentages, from elementary to middle school to high school. Middle School and High School cohorts are still remaining in such but are moving throughout the building, it has been a fourth quarter adjustment the district has made and increased access to the playground equipment which wasn't done prior.
"It's nice to take those baby steps forward," Eslinger said.
Price informed board members that the district is looking to submit an application from the Rural Schools Collaborative from Compeer Financial. This grant is available to rural school communities that are located within Compeer's designated 144 county region throughout Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin Each district is awarded $10,000, one time. Price said that if this is received, it will be used towards social, educational, academic, and emotional learning.
The grant we submitted was to support social and emotional learning," Price said. "We've been looking at screening devices, basically tests that can be administered to students, ideally two times per year. This is so we can get an idea of how they're doing academically, socially, emotionally, if they feel connected with school, if they feel welcome to relationships with their peers, and their relationships with their teachers. It gives us a much better picture of the whole child."
Tech Ed teacher Will Hodgson informed board members that eight students competed in the regionals Team Engineering competition for SkillsUSA in March. Gold, Silver and Bronze all went to Barneveld Teams.
He also showed appreciation that the board approved trap shooting for the district.
"I would say that there are some really happy kids, excited kids who got to take advantage of another opportunity besides traditional sports we have here," Hodgson said. "We have 24 student athletes, 14 males and 10 females."
Price also went over the budget and told board members that the district is currently projecting to have remaining $133,000, which would go back to board funding.
In other business, board members approved a revision of the 2021-2022 district calendar (waiting to hear back from Price on what that update is TBA), and held the oath of office for newly elected board member Denise Douglas, and re-elected board member Brad Zander. Board members thanked Jeremy Oyen for his years of service to the Barneveld School District.

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