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SCHOOL DISTRICT OF RIVER FALLS: 4/20/09 Regular BOE Meeting Minutes

Thursday, June 11, 2009 - 1:57am

Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes

April 20, 2009

The regularly scheduled meeting of the River Falls Board of Education was called to order on Monday, April 20, 2009, at 7:02 p.m. by President Behnke in the River Falls High School Media Center, 818 Cemetery Road. It was ascertained that notice of the meeting had been properly published in The River Falls Journal and an announcement sent to WEVR Radio Station.


President Dennis Behnke, Vice President Steve Rivard, Clerk Barbara Kolpin, Treasurer Manville Kenney, and members Alan Tuchtenhagen, Stacy Johnson Myers, and Rellen Hardtke were present. Superintendent Tom Westerhaus, Finance Director Chad Smurawa, Director of Academic Services Rick Osterhaus, and Personnel Director Donna Hill were also in attendance.


It is National Volunteer Week, and the district thanked all of the volunteers and co-ordinators for their time and effort. Greenwood and Meyer Middle School Volunteer Coordinator Michelle Swenson recognized Heather Bechtold, Jackie Cobian and Pauline Williams from Greenwood and Cindy Haskins from the Middle School. Montessori Volunteer Coordinator Heather Spiczak recognized Laurel Langford. Westside Volunteer Coordina-tor Julie Larson recognized Barb and Paul Kliszcz. Rocky Branch Volunteer Coordinator Monique Squire recognized Tami Jensrud and Laura Lenneman. All of the Coordinators thanked all of their volunteers for their time and efforts; their service is appreciated immensely.

Megan Smith and Laurie Moyer presented a brochure and information about the Community Response Program (CRP). The Program works to ensure that children are safe by strengthening families. They reach out to families with children of all ages in Pierce County that reside within the River Falls School District. For information about this program, the phone number is 715-273-6766.

Retiring school Board member Steve Rivard was recognized for his service on the Board and to the district with a plaque and certificates and with the thanks from the Board.


Rivard moved, seconded by Tuchtenhagen, that the Board approve the Consent Agenda after removing Item #4 from the Personnel Agenda list. Motion carried. The Consent Agenda included the following items:

The minutes from the regular Board meeting of March 16, 2009, were approved.

Checks numbered 136063 through 136481 had been prepared in the amount of $973,338.85, and there were automatic transfers of $501,729.07 and $616,228.76 for a total of $2,091,296.68. Check number 136357 was voided.

Pursuant to Board Policy which references Wisconsin Statutes Sections 111, 118, and 121, approval of the following employment recommendations: 1) the resignation of Diane Brady as a full-time Eighth Grade Social Studies/Literature Teacher at Meyer Middle School effective at the end of the 2008-09 school year; 2) the resignation of Lynn Dietrich as full-time Physical Education Teacher at Meyer Middle School effective at the end of the 2008-09 school year; 3) the resignation of Todd Schultz as full-time School Psychologist at River Falls High School effective at the end of the 2008-09 school year; 4) a request by Lois Martin, full-time Emotional Behavioral Disabilities Teacher at Rocky Branch Elementary School, for a full-time family/ medical leave of absence effective March 30, 2009, through April 13, 2009; and, 5) approval of the placement of the following certified teachers on the substitute teacher list:

Chad Bowman (Broad Field Science, EA-A; Biology/Life Science, EA-A; Chemistry, EA-A

Regina Collinson (Choral Music, grades 6-12; Instru-mental & General Music, pre-K-grade 12; Principal)

Christine Engel (English As A Second Language, Pre-K - Grade 12; Spanish, grades 6-12

Tyrell Galetka (Regular Education, MC-EA; Science, MC-EA)

Melanie McDonough-Robelia (Regular Education, EC-MC)

Scott Perau (General Mus-ic, EC-A; Choral Music, EC-A)

Stephanie Phillips (Regular Education, EC-MC)

Lynsey Studer (Regular Education, EC)

License codes:

EC: Early Childhood, birth-age 8

EC-MC: Early Childhood-Middle Childhood, birth-age 11

MC-EA: Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence, age 6-approx 12-13

EA-A Early Adolescence-Adolescence, age 10-21

EC-A Early Childhood-Adolescence, birth-age 21

Accepted the report and recommendations from the Educational Program Committee from Monday, April 6, 2009, as follows: approved the Elementary Handbook as presented with the corrections made to the Retention paragraph and to Early Kinder-garten Entrance language, and review of the Middle School 2009/10 school year modified block schedule. The other items are in the Action Agenda.

Accepted the report from the Business Affairs Committee from Monday, April 13, 2009. The items can be found in the Action Agenda.

Accepted the report and recommendations from the Personnel Committee from Monday, March 9, 2009, as follows: review of the Point Committee recommendations, and report of the Executive Session held where no action was taken.


Tuchtenhagen moved, seconded by Myers, that the Board approve the proposed Meyer Middle School Jazz Band trip to Triton Schools in Dodge Center, Minnesota, on May 8, 2009, as presented. Motion carried.

Mike Moody, Assistant Chief/Inspections with the River Falls Fire Department provided information regarding a letter and fire safety review recently completed at The Academy by the State of Wisconsin Safety & Buildings Division. Comments and recommendations were made in the letter. Moody provided a summary of the items listed and answered questions. The building is functionally safe, but how much money is the District going to put into the building - especially if something major occurs and items are then required to be brought up to Code. Moody stated that there are many similar buildings around the state, and there is nothing special about this age building. Kolpin asked whether anything specific had been identified in the way of mold or anything that would shut the building down. Moody stated that it had not. Westerhaus stated that the main thing is to be ready for a large investment of money if large items need replacement/repair. The elevator is currently being fixed, but that can be repaired and not brought up to current Code because the car is not being replaced, just the mechanical working portion. This item was informational only.

High School Principal Elaine Baumann provided a review of the evaluation done by NCA in late January this year that included commendations and recommendations for improvement. She provided an overview of the process leading up to the audit, and that this is the first audit since seven new standards have been implemented by NCA. Each of the standards is judged as Emergent, Opera-tional, or Highly Functional. Baumann stated that this audit was a "call to action," and that the district will be working on the recommendations for improvement. Baumann stated that the highest danger to a well run organization is complacency. This audit forces a look at ourselves from the view of an outside team. There currently isn't a complete curriculum for all programs, and they will continue to work on the recommendations. A report will be submitted to the Board regarding the progress. Kenney asked if there was anything specific mentioned about the current block delivery system. Baumann stated they had been commended for the delivery methods, and they are getting better every year regarding the scheduling of skinnies and singletons. Myers commented on how the audit recommendations match extremely well with the strategic planning process recommendations. Tuchtenhagen expressed appreciation for all their time and efforts. This item was informational only.

Tuchtenhagen moved, seconded by Myers, that the Board approve the high school field trip to the Amazon on August 3 - 11, 2009, as presented. Behnke gave a brief overview of the trip information. Motion carried.

Myers moved, seconded by Rivard, that the Board approve as a First Reading Policy #421-Rule, Kindergarten Early Entrance, as presented. Hardtke commented that the Rule appears to make early admission more restrictive with the requirement to apply by March and asked what problem is trying to be addressed? Chuck Eaton, Rocky Branch Principal, stated that they are not trying to restrict but to allow extenuating circumstances. It is good to identify students early for further screening. The Rule provides for more objective measurements. Eaton stated that every parent feels their child is special, but once they are in school, social growth and other issues may cause problems. Hardtke was complimentary of the objectives. Myers thanked Eaton for the specificity and thought it would serve children well. Kenney also expressed concern for the specific date included in the Rule. Rivard commented that the Rule has great criteria and is uniform. Behnke reminded everyone how the school district operates on rules and procedures that back up the policies. Motion carried, 5-yes, 2-no (Hardtke and Kenney).

Smurawa explained that the Administration would like to start an RFP (Request for Proposal) process for an on-call architect. The on-call architect would provide consultation on small remodel and repair projects and could potentially conduct an educational adequacy review of district facilities. He gave various examples when an on-call architect would be beneficial and how this situation would be handled. With new State laws and building codes coming into play and the various situations with buildings in the district, it would be helpful to have someone they could call on for specific and factual information. This item was informational only.

Rivard moved, seconded by Kenney, that the Board approve the bid from STN AlertNow for an emergency calling system in the amount of $6,000.00. This system would be used only in emergency purposes to alert parents (snow day, early release, etc.). It is compatible with STI and will use the information from that program. Motion carried.

Kenney moved, seconded by Kolpin, that the Board approve a one-year agreement with Chartwells for food service, as presented, with the option for 4 one-year renewals. Smurawa explained that the federal government required all schools to put their food service out for bids this year, and he explained the RFP and bid award process. The district has a long history with Chartwells and feedback is good from everyone involved. Motion carried.

Rivard moved, seconded by Hardtke, that the Board approve the purchase of an International Harvester plow truck from the City of River Falls for $8,500.00, as presented. Motion carried.

Smurawa provided an overview of the history of the elevator at The Academy and the difficulties with keeping it running. It is necessary to have an elevator in order to keep using the building. Rivard moved, seconded by Hardtke, that the Board approve the contract with Otis Elevator Company for $44,983.00, as presented. They would order the parts right away, begin work in early June, and be done the end of June. It would have a one-year warranty. Tuchtenhagen stated that this building worries him and others, too. At what point do we decide to stop putting money into it? This is not a long-term solution. Behnke stated that hopefully, the Strategic Plan will provide direction. Kolpin stated that a new school would cost a whole lot more. Hardtke stated that in an emergency, other options could become available; i.e. renting space. Motion carried.

Smurawa answered questions that the Business Affairs Committee had previously asked regarding the bid and process for the fire alarm system at Westside Elementary. About two years ago, the system started to have more frequent problems, and they were luckily able to find a panel to replace the old one. The previous administration had recommended that the system be replaced within the current budget year, especially since there will be other work going on and that will help with the process. Smurawa also explained that three companies had done walkthroughs, but only one chose to bid. He called the other two who had reasonable reasons why they chose not to bid. Kenney moved, seconded by Myers, that the Board approve the bid from MTG/ Siemens for $69,896.00 to upgrade the fire alarm system at Westside, as presented. Rivard expressed his reservation regarding upgrading this system since it still works. There are other older sytems /equipment in the district that the money could be spent on. Kenney stated that this would be difficult to fix during the school year since there would be fire alarm system available and students would have to be removed or have a fire marshal continually patrolling the school. Also, the $250,000 allocated for capital projects is where the funds will be coming from. Behnke stated that awarding the bid with only one bidder is a concern. Westerhaus stated that the ongoing difficulty with the alarm panel is a concern, and this would be a good time to do the project. Motion carried, 5-yes, 2-no (Rivard and Hardtke).

Rivard moved, seconded by Kolpin, that the Board approve the bid from Allied Floor Covering for projects at the high school and Rocky Branch for $14,984.65, as presented. Smurawa explained the project. Motion carried.

Kenney moved, seconded by Rivard, that the Board approve the bid from Steiner Electric for $19,232.64 for installation of lighting at the middle school and at Westside, and approve the bid from D.S. Electric Supply for $22,250.40 for the lighting fixtures, as presented. This is a continuation of previous lighting replacement projects and is helping the district be more energy efficient. Motion carried.

Rivard moved, seconded by Myers, that the Board approve the bid from Walters Buildings for $14,603.00 for a 24x40 steel building. The Kids Club will purchase the building, and high school students will build it for a project. Motion carried.

A report of the results from the 2009 Spring School Board Elections was given including the elected members (Mike Miller, Tuchtenhagen, and Kolpin) and vote counts.

Westerhaus provided handouts and information regarding the Strategic Planning process that has been on-going along with the membership list of the 44 persons involved in the early April three-day planning session. Six strategies were identified, and Action Teams will be formed to determine how these strategies will become realities. The teams will start meeting in the fall. Anyone interested in serving on a team may send an e-mail to Next January, the Action Teams will present their results to the original 44 members of the planning group for validation, and then the information will be brought to the Board in February for action and implementation over a five-year period. Hardtke thanked everyone who participated. Discussion was held regarding how to get the community involved in this next part of the process: district newsletter, podcast, THE JOURNAL, etc.

Myers moved, seconded by Hardtke, that the Board approve the 2008-09 Agreement between the School District of River Falls and the WCEA-Skilled Craft Person unit, as presented. Behnke stated that it is a 4 percent total package. Motion carried.

Hardtke moved, seconded by Kenney, that the Board approve the request for a .5 FTE general leave request from Sara Liesener, School Psychologist, for the 2009/ 2010 school year, as presented. Interviews are being held next week for replacement of the school psychologist open FTEs. Motion carried.

Baumann reported on the Honor's Convocation event planned for Sunday, April 26, 2009. There are 71 students who are being honored with a 3.7 GPA and above. This is the largest group to date. Discussion was held regarding setup, the program, and clean up.


A Board Reorganization meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 27, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. in the Central Administrative Office Building, 852 East Division.

An Educational Program Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 4, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. in the Central Administrative Office Building, 852 East Division.

A Board In-service meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 11, 2009, at 7:30 p.m. in the Central Administrative Office Building, 852 East Division.

A Personnel Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. in the in the Central Administrative Office Building, 852 East Division.

A Regular Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 18, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. in the River Falls High School Media Center, 818 Cemetery Road.


Westerhaus reported on the following items: The district Crisis Response Team and the Grief and Recovery Planning and Responding process/procedures recently created; the Medical Advisor for the district Nursing services is Dr. Patrick Sura from the River Falls Medical Clinic; the Board in-service and presenter; and being newly implemented this year on Wednesday, May 20, 2009, is an open house from 3 - 5 p.m. in the commons area of the high school as a thank you to retirees.

Hill reported that this year's Kindergarten roundup numbers are the highest the district has had in the past 10 years. If the numbers hold, it could mean a request for staffing needs in the future.


President Behnke declared the meeting adjourned at 9:49 p.m.

Barb Kolpin, Clerk