WHITEWATER — The Whitewater Unified School District School Board unanimously approved creating two new funds in its budget on Tuesday.
The board met on Tuesday instead of its normal Monday, due to the Memorial Day holiday.
District business services director Matthew Sylvester-Knudston first presented the idea of the new funds at a school board meeting on May 20, after several prior discussions at earlier board meetings. The creation of the funds is allowable under existing state statutes, but it requires an affirmative vote by the board.
Like most school districts, the Whitewater Unified School District operates with a series of funding sources, and each one is assigned a number. The two new funds will be Fund 46, a long-term capital improvement trust fund, and Fund 73, a post-employment benefits trust fund.
As Sylvester-Knudston explained, Fund 46 will be initiated through a transfer from the district’s general fund (known as Fund 10). Fund 46 requires the district to develop a 10-year capital improvement plan, often called a CIP, and the money in the fund cannot be used for any projects for at least five years, under the state statute regulations.
That plan, he said, “does not need to be all-encompassing,” adding that the plan should begin with the roofing repair-and-replacement schedule, which is on a 10-year rotation, recently created by district consultant Tekton Forensics, which analyzed all the district’s buildings’ roofs.
The CIP may be amended “from time to time,” as well, the business director said. He noted that “once I complete my overall CIP — including mechanical, hard surfaces, classrooms, equipment, etc.— the results will be folded into the roofing plan to create one comprehensive capital improvement plan.”
On a more technical note, Sylvester-Knudtson explained that, when the initial transfer is made from the general fund into Fund 46, it will be counted as a shared cost in its first year (the year of the transfer itself; in this case, 2019), but when those monies eventually are expended, they are not counted as a shared cost. In addition, there are options for using unspent funds at the end of each fiscal year.
The other new fund, Fund 73, will be a post-employment benefits trust fund. In other words, it will become the fund from which all district retirees will receive their benefits.
Sylvester-Knudston explained that the new fund will set aside monies for future retiree benefits payments, as opposed to the district’s current procedure of paying for the benefits on a yearly “pay-as-you-go” plan from that originates in the district’s yearly operating budget. Like Fund 46, Fund 73 will have an option for using unspent funds at the end of each fiscal year.
While Sylvester-Knudston noted that the accounting process for Fund 73 will be more complicated that than the yearly operational budget funding, the advantages of the new fund include, generally, consistent annual contributions, and those contribution count toward state aid and Title I federal grants.
Without Fund 73, those annual contributions fluctuate more often and they are not eligible for the state and federal aid, he explained.
The school board, in separate actions, voted 6-0 to create each of the funds. Board member Tom Gasner was unable to attended Tuesday’s meeting.
In addition to the creation of Fund 46, the board unanimously approved Sylvester-Knudston’s recommendation of transferring $10,000 from the general fund to initialize Fund 46. That $10,000 will not be accessible until at least May of 2024.
Sylvester-Knudston updated the board on the district’s 2019-20 budget development process, and on the status of the state biennial budget process, and how that process may affect the district’s process.
In other matters, the board:
• Heard a special presentation from Whitewater High School associate principal Nate O’Shaughnessy on a new summer-school based WHS/UW-Whitewater Science Outreach Partnership.
O’Shaughnessy said the the program, which counts as an elective one-quarter credit class and is a pilot program this year, will allow qualifying high school students to be matched with a research group at the UW-Whitewater. They will conduct authentic research at the university level. The selected high school students will work as volunteers during the summer under the mentorship of a university professor, post-doctoral candidate or research team.
While there are multiple benefits for the students, O’Shaughnessy highlighted aspects such as the students exploring the college experience, increase their interests in science and scientific research, and letting them participate in a challenging program that maximizes their talents.
• Made five special recognitions, four of which mainly were for students’ achievements.
The board recognized the students and advisers who were named Jerry Award recipients for the WHS Players production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
Those students were Cally Julson, stage management; Josie Hintz, stage management; Emma Van Daele, stage management; Lauren Harkness, outstanding leading performance; Weston Lema, outstanding leading performance; Nicole Sedmak, spirit award; Liz Elliott, music direction; Lynn Lema, choreography; Becky Hoesly, costume design; Tony Hansen, sound design; along with Karen McCulloch for costume design and Jim McCulloch for direction, lighting design and scenic design.
As District Administrator Dr. Mark Elworthy noted, this marks the first time Whitewater has won in the Outstanding Musical category. The cast will be performing a part of the show at the Jerry Awards Ceremony at the Overture Center on June 9.
McCulloch also announced that that the cast’s performance at the Overture Center will be taped and broadcast on PBS at a later date.
The board recognized high school seniors who will be entering the armed services after graduation on June 2.
They are Jeremy Beltre Oquendo, Navy; Zander Jaeger, Air Force; Yamile Antunez and James Palmer, both Marines; Amy Earle, Army; Fabian Gonzalez, Army Reserve.
The board recognized the Whitewater Middle School Math Teams for earning first place in the state’s Mathematics Council Class B Math Meet.
Seventh-graders honored were Silas Baker, Emerson Ellenwood, Emilia Houwers and Jared Apgar. Apgar made Class B First Team All-State.
Eighth-graders honored were Afton Clapper, Emma Clarksen, Cole Schlicher and Jazmin Cederberg. Claksen, Schlicher and Cederberg made Class B Second Team All-State.
The board recognized National History Day 2019 winners: Broderick Frye, Bailee Korf and Emily Scherer for “The Triumph and Tragedy of the Janesville GM Plant,” which was named State Qualifier fourth place in state competition in the senior group documentary; Nikita Hartzheim and Savannah Hill, for “The Rosenbergs,” which was named State Qualifier fourth place in state competition in the senior group performance category; Gio Anello, for “Alvin York: Conscientious Objector to Decorated Veteran,” named a State Qualifier in senior individual performance; and Madison Strickler, for “Dr. John Galt,” also a State Qualifier in senior individual performance.
The board heard from David Brokopp, principal at Lakeview Elementary School, who reported that he and Paul Majors, the Whitewater High School FFA adviser and agri-science teacher, entered their respective schools in the Milwaukee Bucks and American Transmission Company (ATC) “Trees for Threes” program.
In 2017, the Bucks and ATC launched a partnership to create more green spaces in Wisconsin for future generations to enjoy, as stated on the Bucks’ website. Through the program, the Bucks and ATC sponsor a planting of a new tree in Wisconsin for every 3-point shot the Bucks scored, on their home court, this season. According to the website, the program will be responsible for 573 upcoming tree plantings. There will be three trees at Lakeview and two at the high school.
• Accepted several resignations, all effective at the end of the school year. Resigning were Allison Boyd, kindergarten teacher at Lincoln Elementary School; Carolyn Krapfl, special education teacher at the Whitewater Middle School; and social studies teacher Chris Wiegman. English teacher Jessica Dugan and math teacher Mike Tamblyn, all at Whitewater High School.
The board approved the transfer of Cori Wojtkunski from Whitewater Middle School to Lincoln Elementary School and Eric Kendall, who split time between the middle and high schools, to be full time at the high school.
The board then hired Kristen de la Torriente and Dena Schminning to be first-grade and kindergarten teachers at Lincoln, respectively, and Kathryn Weston to be the new social studies teacher at the high school.
The board also approved a “voluntary reduction in hours” from five to four hours, for Lakeview Elementary School special education paraprofessional Yvonne Harris and all summer school appointments.
The board approved hiring a full-time support staff position to address student behavioral concerns at the middle school. That position has not been filled yet.
• Heard year-end reports on building/program goals for 2018-19 from the district leadership team.
Speaking were Mike Lovenberg, principal at Whitewater High School; Tanya Wojciechowicz, principal at Whitewater Middle School; David Brokopp, principal at Lakeview Elementary School; and Kelly Seichter, director of district curriculum and instruction.
• Accepted a $4,679 donation from the Whitewater Kiwanis Breakfast Club to provide for summer school bus funding for ELL students.
• Accepted a $1,000 donation from Generac for the Ferradermis team; Kelly Davis abstained because she is employed at Generac.
• Heard a special year-in-review presentation on Ferradermis, the Whitewater High School robotics team.The team, which brought its robot to the meeting, also thanked all of the community and district support it has received.
• Heard Elworthy say a combined total of $585 also was donated to Ferradermis from five other individuals or organizations.