JEFFERSON — The top item on Monday’s Jefferson school board agenda actually is at the bottom of the list: a closed-session consideration of a new principal for Jefferson Middle School.
The board likely is to come out of closed session at the end of the evening to vote on the hire, said School District of Jefferson Superintendent Mark Rollefson.
Rollefson noted that the individual comes with his strong personal recommendation and the superintendent thinks he will be a good fit for the school.
The hiring of a new principal for Jefferson Middle School would close a chapter in which previous principal Laura Montez was hired, went on administrative leave and resigned within a school year. Serving as principal for the past couple of months has been Larry Gierach, a recent retiree with ample administrative experience who agreed to serve in that capacity for the balance of the school year.
Also on the agenda for the School District of Jefferson Board of Education’s meeting Monday evening are the review of student Chromebook bids and purchase, two staff resignations, consideration of a resolution regarding private school voucher transparency, and review of one revised policy and two revised policies on procurement guidelines and standards of conduct.
The board also will honor spring athletes in softball, baseball, golf and track and recipients of the Jerry Awards for musical theater.
Also on the agenda are two reports, the first an Information Technologies report by IT director Jason Poeppel and Curriculum and Instruction Director Barb Johnson, and the other an overview of the district’s progress on its strategic plan, particularly as it regards to open enrollment.
Rollefson said that this marks the first year that the district has had a net gain in new open enrollees as of the spring deadline.
For the past two years, the district has had a negative open enrollment as of the spring deadline, but when fall rolls around, has turned that equation around to gain more students than it loses through open enrollment.
Rollefson said that this shows continued progress, and he hopes that trend continues.
Looking more closely at the data, he noted that the three area districts which the Jefferson schools traditionally have lost students to have “flattened out” in terms of Jefferson students choosing to attend schools in these districts: Kettle Moraine, Oconomowoc and Fort Atkinson.
“It’s a bummer we have to compete with our neighbors in public education, but that’s the world we live in now, as open enrollment becomes an important part of the budgeting process,” Rollefson said.
Another area Rollefson chose to highlight in the strategic plan was the district’s success in establishing annual “Run, Hide, Fight” emergency preparedness training for all staff members.
Training on this topic has already been slated for January of 2020, on a date agreed on by representatives of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, the Jefferson Police Department, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater ROTC program and additional emergency personnel.
The plan is to have all new staff plus all existing secondary staff in the district go through this training one year, then have all new staff and all elementary school staff go through the training in the successive year so everyone is prepared about the best way to ensure the schools’ safety in the event of an active shooter.
Also, the board will receive budget updates from Laura Peachey, director of business services for the district, along with updates on the implementation of Phase I and Phase II of the safety grants the district is receiving.
Backing up to the Student Chromebook Bids item on the agenda, district officials are recommending the district go with the low bid for this purchase, which came in at $83,900.
The project involves purchasing 75 Chromebooks for Sullivan Elementary School to replace aging Chromebooks in keeping with their projected five-year “life-cycle.”
The district will be purchasing 139 Chromebooks for use by Jefferson High School freshmen. These computers, which high-schoolers are allowed to take home to work on throughout the school year, can then be purchased for $20 by the students after they complete their four years of high school.
In the meantime, the district plans to “self-insure” by purchasing 45 additional Chromebooks to replace those that become inoperational during this time. Compared to purchasing an extended warranty for the devices, this saves the district $7,593.75, Poeppel said.
The Jefferson district is applying for a grant to cover the cost of the Chromebooks.
The district received bids from Tierney Brothers ($91,800), Heartland Business Systems ($98,800), CDW-G ($86,192), and PDS ($83,900.) The low bid is recommended.
The cost to the district after applying the Wisconsin grant will be $69,322.37.
Resignations up for consideration include that of Shylow Prewitt, a school social worker for the past year, who will be moving to Beloit; and Joe Hauser, who had only just been hired as a math teacher at the high school, but who then resigned to take a position elsewhere.
In addition, the board will be considering a Start College Now waiver for a student who had initially intended to apply to a Middle College program and thus did not apply for the Start College Now program by the deadline.
Subsequently, the Middle College program was discontinued. Administration is recommending a waiver to allow this individual late entry into the Start College Now program to that student can enter their chosen training in a manufacturing program specifically targeted at economically disadvantaged high school seniors with an interest in the manufacturing field.
On the issue of voucher transparency, the board is looking at a potential resolution which is not word-for-word but which takes information from both the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and the Wausau School Board.
The resolution urges the state to provide transparency for taxpayers so they know what portion of their tax dollars currently marked for their local public school district actually goes to private voucher schools, rather than lumping it all together on property tax bills.
Finally, in closed session, the board will discuss action on two different items.
The first is administrative and non-unit (support staff) employee base wages for 2019-20. Administration is recommending the district go with a raise linked to the Consumer Price Index, of 2.44 percent.
The board could vote on this rate this evening, or it could delay the decision for further consideration, Rollefson said.
The second item on the closed session agenda is the Jefferson Middle School principal contract.