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SCHOOL DISTRICT OF RIVER FALLS: 5/18/09 Regular Meeting Minutes

Thursday, July 2, 2009 - 1:42am

Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes

May 18, 2009

The regularly scheduled meeting of the River Falls Board of Education was called to order on Monday, May 18, 2009, at 7:07 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 posted in the appropriate locations, published in The River Falls Journal and an announcement sent to WEVR Radio Station.


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


Special Services Teacher CeCe Gillis and French Teacher Lisa Showers presented information regarding the World Language Art Exhibit at River Falls High School. They explained the collaboration between the higher level French students and the Special Needs students that creates an art project every spring.

Westerhaus recognized and congratulated two recipients and one nominee of the Robert C. Byrd Scholars award: Edward Tashjian and Rachel Zimmerman, recipients; Jayne Esch, nominee.

Athletic Director Rollie Hall recognized Senior Rachel Paulson and Freshman Amanda Guise for their state champion gymnastics awards; Senior Eric Emerson for his state champion swimming award; the Girls' Hockey State Championship team and the WIAA Sportsmanship Award they received. The Board congratulated everyone for their effort and accomplishments.


Behnke reviewed the items on the Consent Agenda. Myers moved, seconded by Kolpin, that the Board approve the Consent Agenda as presented. Motion carried. The Consent Agenda included the following items:

The minutes from the regular Board meeting of April 20, 2009; the Special Board Re-organization meeting of April 27, 2009; and the Special Board In-service meeting of May 11, 2009 were approved.

Checks numbered 136482 through 137083 had been prepared in the amount of $1,319,872.52, and there were automatic transfers of $528,212.38, $488,854.51 and $3149.96 for a total of $2,340,089.37. Check numbers 136887 and 137014 were voided.

Pursuant to Board Policy which references Wisconsin Statutes Sections 111, 118, and 121, approval of the following employment recommendations:

1) the resignation of Tony Mudra as a full-time Vocal Music (half-time at Meyer Middle School, half-time at River Falls High School) effective at the end of the 2008-09 school year; 2) the employment of Lance Hovland as part-time (4%) Tech Ed Teacher at Meyer Middle School effective April 6, 2009, through June 11, 2009; 3) the increased employment of Gina Pedriana-Basche, part-time (43%) Art Teacher at Meyer Middle School, for an additional 4% effective January 26, 2009, through April 3, 2009; 4) the reassignment of Cory Klinge, full-time Social Studies Teacher at Meyer Middle School, from Grade 7 to Grade 8 effective with the start of the 2009-10 school year; and 5) approval of the placement of the following certified teacher on the substitute teacher list: Karen Qualls (Elementary, grades 1-6)

Accepted the report and recommendations from the Educational Program Committee from Monday, May 4, 2009, as follows: reviewed the 8th grade trip to Washington D.C., recommended approval of the changes to the Renaissance Student Handbook; recommended approval of the edited changes to the High School Student Handbook; recommended approval of the changes to the Middle School Student Handbook; recommended approval of the edited 2010-2011 School Calendar and the June 5, 2011, Graduation Date; and recommended approval of the preliminary field trip request to Guatemala in June 2010. The review of the 2008 WKCE test results appears in the Action Agenda in these minutes.

Accepted the report and recommendations from the Personnel Committee from Tuesday, May 12, 2009, as follows: recommended approval of the revised Renaissance Staff Ratio Guidelines; recommended approval of an additional .5 FTE school psychologist position effective the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year; revision to Procedure 534-R, Substitute Teachers; and affirmed any action taken in executive session. Two items can be found later in these minutes in the Action Agenda.

Accepted the report from the Personnel Negotiation Committee that met with WCEA-River Falls on Monday, May 11, 2009.


Osterhaus presented a report on the 2008 WKCE test results for grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 as well as levels of proficiency in grades 4, 8 and 10 in Reading and Math. The district continues to be solid in the scores, but it is important to stretch to work on innovative type thinking and higher order thinking skills. He spoke about some programs and innovative delivery methods staff are using. Some of these slides and test results will be posted on the website when the site gets upgraded.

Myers moved, seconded by Tuchtenhagen, that the Board approve Mark Chapin as Meyer Middle School Principal effective July 1, 2009. Westerhaus provided an overview of the process used for hiring Chapin, and Meyer Middle School Principal Mike Johnson gave additional details about narrowing down the field from the many applications received. Hill noted that Chapin will be replacing Pat McCardle who stepped in to take the position after the death of the previous assistant principal, Greg Danke. Chapin gave a brief overview of his history and family members. Everyone indicated they were very pleased to welcome Chapin to the district. Motion carried.

Kenney moved, seconded by Kolpin, that the Board approve the revised Director of Finance and Facilities Management Job Description. Hill noted that the changes suggested at the Personnel Committee meeting have been made to the description. Westerhaus provided an overview of the reasoning behind the shift of some of the maintenance/facilities responsibilities into the description of the position that Smurawa holds. Kenney and Myers stated that this shift follows the direction of the Board in order to allow the superintendent to spend more time as an educational leader and reflects their confidence in Smurawa. Motion carried.

Kolpin moved, seconded by Myers, that the Board approve as a second reading 421-Rule, Early Admission to Kindergarten procedures. Motion carried.


A Business Affairs Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 1, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. in the Central Administrative Office Building, 852 East Division.

A Negotiations Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 1, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. in the Central Administrative Office Building, 852 East Division.

A Personnel Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 1, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. in the in the Central Administrative Office Building, 852 East Division.

An Educational Program Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 1, 2009, at 8:00 p.m. in the Central Administrative Office Building, 852 East Division.

A Board Governance Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 15, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. in the River Falls High School Conference Room, 818 Cemetery Road.

A Regular Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 15, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. in the River Falls High School Media Center, 818 Cemetery Road.


Westerhaus reported on the following items: The Action Team leaders have been trained and are starting to prepare for their groups: 18 people all together (6 community members, 6 teachers, and 6 administrators). Wednesday, May 20, 2009, is a district open house from 3 - 5 p.m. in the commons area of the high school as a thank you to staff and to retirees. There will be 360-degree evaluations unfolding over the next few months. Kolpin and Westerhaus will meet to plan the Governance Meeting to be held June 15, 2009. Discussion will be held regarding the school forest with an environmental attorney (at no cost to the district), but no decisions will be made. Tuchtenhagen commented that it would be great to have as many Board members as possible attend the Governance Meeting on June 15, and any future meetings of this Committee if at all possible.

Osterhaus provided a handout and draft information regarding the ARRA Stimulus Funding for Title 1. River Falls School District is tentatively scheduled to receive an allocated $113,191, but this is only for two years. The district will be starting 2009-10 with a $26,598 shortfall, so this would be covered with part of the allocation. Some of it would be set aside for the 2nd year, and about $70,000 would be used to fund continued staffing and implement some strategic plans and staff development. Results need to be measured and shown in the two years.

Director of Special Education Jackie Steinhoff talked about next year's tentative funding amount for Special Education and the need for the district to be creative with funding.

Smurawa talked about the current state budget discussion and the possibility that school districts might see a decrease in state aid for next year. Behnke stated that he hoped the administration would try hard not to put more burden on local property taxpayers. Kenney agreed. Myers and Tuchtenhagen stated that it is important that the district continues to do what it does well.


President Behnke declared the meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

Barb Kolpin, Clerk