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SCC board nears approval of virtual charter school

At Monday night’s meeting, the St. Croix Central School Board tabled final approval of a proposed virtual charter school until their March 3 board learning session, allowing board members to review recommendations made by Wisconsin Association of School Boards attorney Barry Forbes.

He recommended the district contact their insurance carrier to clarify liability issues for the new school. The St. Croix Valley Academy of Virtual Education would be established with an initial five-year contract between the district board and a governance board responsible for the day-to-day oversight of the virtual school.

“Consider it a fourth school in the school district,” Superintendent Tim Widiker said.

The board has been exploring the idea of a virtual charter school primarily as a way to keep virtual students within the district from leaving the district to pursue classes the district cannot offer without charter school status. It could become an option for some home-schooled students and it might also provide a way for some expelled students to continue their education within the district.

If virtual students reside within the district boundaries, they could also participate in sports and extracurricular activities. Clerk Jeff Redmon expressed concerns that the new school not “cost more than we make.”

District Business Manager Jennifer Kleschold said the district would receive the same open enrollment state aid for a virtual student as a regular student provided they physically reside within the district.  

Widiker explained that the district would be responsible for funding the new school’s budget and the district board would have final oversight of the budget. The district currently has 17 students enrolled in virtual classes.

Other business:

  •  The board designated Melissa Schmidt-Landin as the recipient of the district’s 2014 State Academic Scholarship. She is considering Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UW-Madison, Cornell or Stanford among her choices to begin her college education. Schmidt-Landin is also this year’s valedictorian. SCC High School Principal Glenn Webb also announced Austin Hanson is this year’s salutatorian.
  •  Widiker presented the board with a schedule outlining the timetable and selection process for hiring a new elementary school principal.

“I have always advocated that the school board ought not be involved in that process and I see that we are not involved until we approve the final hire, which is a change. I just wanted to make sure the board was OK with that,” Redmon said.

“I’m fine with this,” President Howard Kruschke said.

Director Kay Zwald agreed. Widiker explained that the process would be conducted by three committees consisting of members of the administration and a cross section of elementary school staff.

“Will the citizens have any say in the process?” Kruschke asked.

Widiker said the process begins with posting the position online, followed by meetings between the superintendent and elementary staff the week of Feb. 24 to develop a list of desired characteristics and traits for the new principal. Over the next two months, the district intends to solicit input from elementary staff and parents using an online survey prior to candidate selections and interviews. The board hopes to announce the new principal April 22.  

  •  Kleschold presented the board with a projected 2014-15 budget. She expects the budget to be balanced and to be able to accommodate costs to repair the track and additional IT costs.
  •  FFA Advisor Bill Emery announced the formation of a new co-ed trap shooting team. He estimates there are roughly 20 students interested in the team. He also told the board he is in the early stages of exploring a field trip for students to the Grand Canyon to potentially take place over the Thanksgiving holiday next year.