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Board welcomes Schachtner and Dressel

Fresh from his April reelection, Somerset Board of Education President Brian Moulton took time to recognize the dedication of outgoing board members Kelly Ott and Tom Walters during the board’s regular meeting Monday night.

“They both put in a lot of time and hard work and have become very good board members and that makes it hard to see them go. We are grateful for their service. We are going to miss them both,” said Moulton.

Moulton made a special point of thanking Walters for serving as the district’s CESA representative.

Speaking on behalf of both himself and board member Ott who was unable to attend the meeting, Walters expressed a newfound appreciation for all the hours and work that board members provide to the district.

“We’ve learned a lot about all of the hard work and the joy too that goes into being a board member. We are grateful to have had the opportunity. Kelly and I would both like to thank the community, staff and administration for standing behind us,” said Walters.

He then offered a bit of advice to new incoming members Patty Schachtner and Nancy Dressel. “Remember the students and their needs must always come first,” he said.

District Administrator Randy Rosburg recapped the highlights from the district’s ongoing discussion with vendor RMM Solutions regarding several matters including the transition plan to replace RMM representative Amy Arnold, the benefits and challenges of backing up data locally and externally while maintaining collaborative access, and evaluating a potential hybrid solution that addresses both Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the One-to-One Initiative.  Rosburg reported that information being gathered from staff and administrators regarding their concerns and requirements for VMWare will be incorporated into plans and solutions with assistance from RMM. RMM will also be available to assist with the transfer of email and addresses to Google for Education. Rosburg thought that a comprehensive  IT plan could potentially be available for board review by mid May.

Board members heard from a group of kindergarten teachers employing the Writer’s Workshop Model to help their students become better writers. The teachers have seen a corresponding improvement in student’s reading skills and self esteem related to the new writing program. Teaching their students to write “how-tos,” personal narratives and opinions has motivated students to write more both at school and at home and increased their sense of pride in what they have accomplished.

“Allowing each student to choose what he or she wants to write about makes a big difference,” reported  one teacher.

A group of first-grade teachers confirmed the achievements of their counterparts and have continued to build on that foundation using a Guided Reading program. The program assesses each individual student’s reading level and then provides an adaptable reading plan for each.

Both teaching models promote the concept that higher level thinking leads to higher level learning.

Rosburg thanked the teachers for the work they do every single day in their classrooms and for taking time to share their success stories with the board. He said their stories exemplify the district’s mission and help bring to life the results of policy for board members.

Other business

-- The board elected to keep the district’s seat on the CESA 11 Advisory Board.

-- The board approved sending board member Mike Connor as its representative to the CESA 11 annual convention scheduled for June 1 in Turtle Lake.

-- Student Council representative John Siggens reported the Somerset High School Annual Community Day Clean-Up is scheduled for Friday, May 22. People with projects appropriate for supervised students to complete are asked to contact Jen Sutton by May 15. Jen can be reached at 715-247-3355 or by email at jsutton@somerset.k12.wi.us.

-- The elementary school is preparing to implement a behavior initiative known as Positive Behavior in Schools (PBIS) beginning in the 2016-17 school year. A leadership team has been established and training will begin in May.

-- Following a closed session, District Administrator Randy Rosburg announced the board had approved another early retirement incentive package for a high school teacher effective the end of the current school year.

“It’s part of the bigger strategy to help us manage our budget deficit. If we needed to balance the budget tomorrow we could do it but there would be some difficult decisions because there are too many variables out there yet. We’re just waiting on the conversation in Madison with the legislators talking about giving back some of the money the governor had pulled from public schools, but we won’t know that until May,” said Rosburg.

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