GL School Board talks reading and math help, tentative budget, insurance and meeting time
Ripon Commonwealth Press (WI)
Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings couldn't stop the Green Lake School Board last week. It approved a program to help students struggling with reading and math, a tentative budget for the 2022-23 school year and an employee insurance plan, as well as opted against moving the meeting time. Here's the top-four takeaways from last week Wednesday's meeting: 1. Reading and math intervention The School Board unanimously approved the addition of a read 180/math 180 position for an intervention program that aims to help students who are struggling in those areas. The read 180/math 180 position would be responsible for teaching a reading class and a math class for students who need additional help. "
This specific class addresses this specific need," School Board President Andy Gryske said. "We have kids that can't pass math and reading. And we have to fix that." Green Lake School currently does not have an alternative track for students in need of support before being able to meet the requirements of class offerings, according to Superintendent Gina Baxter. She noted the read 180 and math 180 position was an active position about nine years ago, but was dissolved due to a lack of need. Baxter added that it is needed to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing school districts to stop in-person education in spring 2020. "We thought it was going to be a permanent position nine years ago; we worked ourselves out of that position, which is a good thing," she said, noting about 20% of the school's students need remedial help with math and reading. 3. Tentative budget The School Board approved a tentative budget for the 2022-23 school year and purchase orders, which enables the district to begin buying supplies for next year. The budget will change as more information becomes available from the state as the anticipated budget is changing by the day, according to Green Lake School Operations Director Tom Archambo. Gryske noted the tentative budget enables the district to continue to cover operating expenses until the School Board can approve the formal 2022-23 budget at its annual meeting, when the district has more concrete numbers. "
The whole purpose of this is just to let us release the POs (purchase orders) so we can spend money in the summer," he said. Archambo said the budget is based upon any known data available to the district, such as specific wages and insurance costs. For information that isn't available, the district uses historical data, as well as information from the news related to potential operating costs, he added. "It's a work in progress," he said. ".. It'll change two to three times a week." 3. Insurance The School Board passed an insurance plan for the 2022-23 school year and approved providing an insurance benefit option to full-time support staff. Baxter noted the district contracts insurance through Employee Benefits Corp. (EBC) and that the impact to the district is roughly a 6.4% increase in its contribution to employee deductibles. Gryske said seeing an increase that low is "unheard of" right now and that the district got "very good numbers" on its insurance plan.
School Board Vice President Matt Bond added that the insurance plan was "very favorable" to the district with minimal additional contribution. In addition, the district will offer health insurance benefits to support staff who are considered full-time during the school year to make Green Lake more competitive in recruiting and retaining staff, according to a document provided by the school. 4. Meeting time After discussing potentially changing the time of the School Board's regular meetings, the board opted to keep its usual 5 p.m. start time on the third Wednesday of each month. School Board member Mary Cyrier proposed moving the meetings to either 6:30 p.m. or 7, believing it better accommodate parent schedules. "I'm just throwing it out there as an idea; just throwing something out there to think about and talk about," she said. Those against moving the meeting time said community turnout at School Board meetings is generally only higher if the board is discussing a hot-button topic.
"They don't want to sit and listen to us talk about insurance," Gryske said. "That's just the sad part of us being on the board." A majority of School Board members ultimately were not in favor of the change. Baxter asked the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) for its feedback on the meeting time. "I was told that it doesn't matter because 'If something's going on, we're just going to be in your office before you get there,'" she said of the PTO's feedback.