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St. Croix Central board accepts six staff retirements

The St. Croix Central school board accepted the retirements of six staff members Monday night with a combined 165 years of experience to the district.

“After 25,000 lectures, I don’t have much more to say,” said Jim Ehlers, high school social studies, after 35 years, as he was the first member to offer his thanks. “I’ve been real grateful for everything. … This is the right time for me.”

Next was Jeanne Larson, elementary music, who said, “Thank you all for your support. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here. The elementary has had an excellent music facility with great teaching materials.”

Larson served 25 years total, originally first retiring in June 2011

Sandy Hermundson, high school English teacher of 30 years, thanked the board for its advances at the middle school level, as the sixth, seventh and eighth grades now have literacy and English teachers.

“It’s been really beneficial,” she said. “Thank you for everything.”

Sue Frank, high school family and consumer education, went a different route in showing her thanks. Much to the delight of the board and administration in attendance, she brought along candy to illustrate what she was feeling. To show the joy she had for teaching at Central for 37 years, she brought Almond Joy bars. To express her feelings of happiness and gratefulness, she had Starburst.

“Thank you all very much,” she said. “I’m going to miss everyone.”

Susan Malmer-Goodro, the school’s occupational therapist, said, “I’ve been proud to serve in this District for 18 years. I love school, and value high-quality education. I love my job and it’s been a wonderful career. Thank you.”

Pam Pribnow, elementary paraprofessional for 20 years, wrapped up the retirees by saying “This wasn’t an easy decision for me. … My children went to school here and my grandson is going to graduate in 2017. The memories I made here could write a book. Thank you all.”

Board President Howard Kruschke speaking on behalf of the board members in attendance thanked all six members for their time and service to St. Croix Central. Superintendent Tim Widiker then announced there will be a retirement and recognition banquet for the retirees 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, at Pheasant Hills Golf Course.

Building updates

Widiker gave the board updates about building projects throughout the district. He will go in front of the Hammond Planning Commission Monday, March 23, to present the plans for the new bus barn. He gave a start date of Monday, April 13, for construction to begin on the middle school additions. As for the auditorium, he said “we are very pleased with the progress being made. It’s going to be the gem of our district.”

Legislative update

The Board approved sending a letter to State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), State Rep. John Murtha (R-Baldwin) and State Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) showing their displeasure with the proposed budget offered by Gov. Scott Walker. Walker is proposing a cut of state aid by $150 per student for the 2015-16 year, which means the district would have to make up $230,000 if it passes as proposed. The letter asks for the funding to be restored. It was commented other area school boards have sent off letters to their legislators and it was the hope of all the school districts in the state to do the same. Widiker said he plans on attending a Joint Committee on Finance public hearing Monday, March 23, in Rice Lake, in which he hopes to be able to testify to show the effects the budget will have on St. Croix Central.

Highlight on youth

The Board heard from seniors Nick Hammond and Dana Queen, junior Mackenzie Johnson, freshman Sandra Queen and teacher Tera Hinzman who talked about the school’s Science Olympiad program. In its second year, the program has expanded into two teams.

“Kids enjoy it because there’s no fear of failure,” Hinzman said.

At its regional meet, Central earned the top new school award, as it placed seventh overall among 15 schools. The state meet is scheduled for April 10-11 in Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, students Lexi Roth and Chase Hernandez-Hollembeak and teacher Garret Wenzel talked about St. Croix Central’s robotics program, which is in its first year. Central competes in the Midwest robotics league, in which there are six competitions each year.

“The students learn perseverance, teamwork, problem solving and application of knowledge,” Wenzel said.

That’s not the only thing, as both students praised Wenzel for allowing them to do the hands-on work as well. The team’s next event is Regionals Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26, at the Mall of America.

Other business

• Widiker presented an enrollment update for the district. They are at 1,517 students for March, an increase of one from February and a decrease of four from the beginning of the year. The second grade is far and away the district’s biggest class at 136 students, with the next closest being fifth grade at 123.

• Youth Options were approved for students to take classes at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and WITC in New Richmond this fall.

• The district approved renewing its shared services contract from CESA for 2015-16.

• The next board meeting was set for 7 p.m., Monday, April 27, at the middle school library.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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