In advance of an April 7 operational referendum, the School District of Fort Atkinson Board of Education on Thursday unanimously voted to exceed the state-imposed revenue cap commencing with the 2020-21 school year.

During their regular monthly meeting, board members voted to have “the final school district budget beginning with the 2020-21 school year include amounts not to exceed $2.25 million each year (on a recurring basis) and $3 million each year (on a non-recurring basis for a period of three years) in excess of the revenue limits imposed by Wisconsin Statutes for the purpose of paying district operating costs in support of delivering the quality opportunities and services each student needs to achieve his or her academic and personal potential.”

This two-part question will be submitted to electors for approval or rejection at the election to be held April 7, 2020.

In a related move, the board unanimously approved providing for a referendum election on the question of the approval of a resolution to exceed the district’s revenue cap commencing with the 2020-21 school year.

District electors will vote in the referendum election at their regular polling places, and notices of the referendum, including a facsimile ballot and voting instructions, will appear in the Daily Jefferson County Union, the district’s official newspaper.

“As you are aware, the district has been moving on pace for an April operational referendum,” Interim District Administrator Dr. Rob Abbott said in prefacing the two resolutions. “Most recently, we’ve had a districtwide survey which then led to (communitywide) focus groups. From those focus groups, then, the board has entertained a great depth of information and then discussion two weeks ago on a Monday evening regarding what they would like the administration to seek (regarding) language to be constructed related to the operational referendum in April.”

The language the board approved Thursday night, he noted, was constructed by school district attorneys in congruence with what board members had requested.

Comprehensive Literacy Model

Also Thursday, board members heard Director of Instruction Amy Oakley share a brief spotlight on the district’s 10th year of participation in the Comprehensive Literacy Model.

“We were blessed to host today (Thursday) an event that really kicked off our 10-year anniversary celebration of being in the Comprehensive Literacy Model for 10 years,” Oakley commented. “Today, we kicked off not only the idea of celebrating all of our accomplishments but also recognizing that we’re still on a continued journey in that learning.”

“10 Years, 10 Features Strong” is the theme, she said, highlighting a decade of collective commitment and responsibility for improving student learning, teacher knowledge, culture and systemic processes to increase collective efficacy, and improve teaching and learning.

A total of 75 persons attended Thursday’s Network of Literacy Administrators meeting, including 13 School District of Fort Atkinson staff and 62 Wisconsin affiliate guests from Belleville, Kaukauna, Marshall, Nekoosa, Pembine, Waukesha, Waupun, West Bend, Whitefish Bay and Xavier-Appleton.

“They came to learn about establishing strong multi-level systems of support for students in the area of literacy,” Oakley said. “So, if a student is not succeeding or not progressing as much as we’d like, what ways can we support them.”

The Fort Atkinson school district, she said, was spotlighted in the afternoon where staff presented their work within the K-12 literacy intervention model. The theme for the day, football-based, was “winningwithCLM.”

“It was an exciting day to have that many principals, superintendents, curriculum directors, pupil services directors from all of those districts coming here to recognize work in this area,” Oakley remarked. “So a nice kickoff to the celebration.”

She explained how 10 years of Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy has impacted the School District of Fort Atkinson learning community.

“I think we have a very high commitment to literacy leadership from our administrative team,” Oakley said. “I would be negligent to not give high credit and appreciation to the teachers that have taken on some very intense learning in literacy, as well as our interventionists who’ve taken on learning in interventions to implement precise teaching that the model calls for.”

Other impacts, she said, have been the district’s literacy coaches who provide apprenticeship learning and professional development in house; aligned and layered services in core and intervention; two International Literacy Association Exemplary Reading Program Awards; and increased student learning as demonstrated on the district’s Wisconsin School Report Cards in the area of literacy.

“Ten years of the comprehensive literacy model would not have been possible without support from our board of education members,” Oakley stated. “Your commitment to providing us the positions we needed and the resources to make this program successful, and really live our mission when it comes to helping our students be strong readers, is appreciated.”

This celebration, she said, started Thursday and will run until the culmination July 7, when the School District of Fort Atkinson will host the Wisconsin Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy Summer Institute at Fort Atkinson High School.

“We are expecting anywhere from 150 to 200-plus people that will be teachers, administrators, interventionists coming to learn,” Oakley indicated. “The theme for the day is ‘Hindsight is 20/20’ all talking about lessons people have learned while implementing the model. So that is our culminating activity.”

Meanwhile, the board:

• Approved the 2020-21 school calendar, which incorporates the addition of five early-release days at 1:30 p.m.

• Approved not denying any new regular education open enrollment applications for the 2020-21 school year, based on available space, at any grade level. (The upcoming open enrollment application window is from Feb. 3-April 30).

• Approved designating that there are no available special education spaces for the 2020-21 school year for new open enrollment applicants.

• Heard Clerk Dick Schultz present an update regarding declared candidates for the spring school board election.

Three seats on the School District of Fort Atkinson Board of Education are up for election, he said, noting that the deadline for filing declaration of candidacy was 5 p.m. on Jan. 7.

“Three electors of the district filed necessary papers,” Schultz informed. “The declaration of candidacy and campaign registration statement forms for each candidate were reviewed and verified.”

On Jan. 8, a random drawing was conducted to determine the order of names on the ballot,” Schultz said. “No. 1 will be (incumbent) Rachel Snethen, No. 2 will be Kory Knickrehm and No. 3 will be Amy Reynolds.”

Since there only are three candidates for three seats on the school board, no primary election will be held, he said.

“The general election will be held on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, and everyone who is eligible to vote is encouraged to do so,” Schultz stated. “The elected board members will take office on Monday, April 27.”

The three candidates will be invited to speak at the board’s regular March meeting, he said.

• Heard board President Mark Chaney provide a quick update for the public on the health status of District Administrator Lynn Brown.

“Superintendent Dr. Lynn Brown has extended her medical leave of absence,” Chaney said. “Due to this extension, the board is working on the next steps for the district.”

• Appointed Jamie Leurquin, full-time special education teacher at Fort Atkinson Middle School.

• Approved employee handbook language changes involving: educator supervision and evaluation; reimbursable absences for administrative, certified and support staff; and employee health insurance benefits for support staff.

• Accepted gifts of more than 350 boxes of crayons from Debbie Hoffman in memory of her daughter, Elizabeth, to Purdy Elementary School students, and a vehicle valued at approximately $1,500 from Richard Baker to the Fort Atkinson High School Technical Education Department.

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