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SCC School Board approves alternative compensation component

St. Croix Central School Board

Among the topics the St. Croix Central School Board discussed during its Jan. 23 regular meeting was the school's participation in the DPI pilot program for license renewal, changes to the school calendar for the 2017-2018 school year and how the district wanted to handle the summer swimming lesson program.

The board's discussion about the the school's participation in the DPI's Employee Evaluation Pilot and whether or not the district would allow staff to use the program as an alternative compensation component wasn't a long one, but it did encompass the many facets of the new program and how the district can best use the new program to its advantage.

"Right now, we allow teachers, once they complete their PVP, to get a bump in their salary, but we are suggesting that if they do the pilot program instead they would get that same bump," said director of teaching and learning Glenn Webb said. "The restrictions put on the program is that it would be one time every five years when they renew their license and the only different thing is that people working on credits can do the same thing now by doing their EE instead of getting credits, but some of them might be taking credits as well."

The board turned to member John Hueg, who is on the board's wage and benefits committee, for the committee's recommendation for the new program.

"We talked about this at the last wage and benefits committee meeting and we are recommending this for approval," Hueg said. "Our rationale is: one, we have separation so our teachers are protected. An important part of the program is that we are evaluating the process not the teacher....We will still have evaluations done by the principals, which is about the teacher's performance, and we will have Glenn doing the Educator Effectiveness renewal process, which is stating that the teacher has followed the steps of the process and that they are eligible for recertification. That way, no one is living in jeopardy of their licensure."

The second part of the committee's discussion was the five year renewal cycle that would only allow teachers to use the new program to get a pay bump once every five years. The committee was happy to see that the program already had a way to ensure staff couldn't abuse the program to get pay increases every year.

"And then the discussion about the credits focused on our desire to continue to encourage our staff to learn and grow. This will actually help us, we think, in directing some of that learning and growing to areas we see as most beneficial to us as a district rather than some of the other piece that are out there now."

After hearing Hueg's recommendation from the committee, the board also approved the acceptance of the DPI Employee Evaluation Pilot Program as a qualified alternative compensation component. However, the alternative compensation component would only take effect after the DPI moved the program from a pilot to a full fledged, state-wide program, which was thought to happen next school year, in one way or another.

Swimming lessons

One of the other discussions the board had during Monday's meeting was about what it wanted to do with the school's current swimming lesson program.

The current program has the district paying $12,363.22 ($8,200 to the Centre for the use of its pool, $1,765.18 to transport students to and from the Centre, and $2,317.05 for supervision) to fund the program every summer while receiving $5,185.77 in revenue from the state. With the current option, the parents of the students taking part pay nothing for the lessons.

The second option the district discussed was making the parents pay for their children's lessons, as a cost of $40 per student. That would make the district's contribution to the program $4,100 rather than the $7177.45 the district currently pays after getting aid back from the state.

After crunching the numbers for the cost of the district supplying students of the district with swimming lessons as well as transporting those students to the New Richmond Area Centre for the lessons, the board couldn't bring itself to charge the parents for their children's lessons when they all felt swimming lessons were an essential part of a child's learning.

"I'm inclined to let it go and keep it as it is," said board member Kay Zwald. "It is a very important thing for us to provide since we don't have a pool. It really should be the next thing on our list to build for our district. But for today, we don't have a pool and I think it is very important for children to know how to swim. It is one of the most important things parents can do for our kids. It is not worth the difference that the savings would bring to the district."

The board decided to leave the current program in place as it is.

School calendar

The only change to the school calendar for the 2017-2018 school year was the cut off date for the first semester from being moved from Jan. 19 to Jan. 12.

"We had a lengthy discussion about the change today and we felt that it works better to have the end of the semester prior to the professional development date," said superintendent Tim Widiker. "We felt strongly to keep the date on on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so if the board approves moving it to Jan. 12....it would move quarter two to 40 days in the quarter rather than 44 and quarter three to 47. That make the schedule unbalanced, but we are okay with that because there really aren't 89 instructional days in the second semester with all the spring testing that goes on. The balance of things we felt was not that critical."

The board approved that change to the calendar and then moved on to discuss the 2017 summer school calendar. The board approved the summer school calendar with the change of the end time of the afternoon sessions from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The added paid minutes would be very close to offsetting the cost with the extra aid the district could get due to changes in the minutes allowed per work week in the summer.

Other business

• A representative from Clifton Larson Allen, LLP presented the school's audit report to the board during the meeting.

• Food service director Tammy Simonson and Chartwell's representative Katy Bazzett gave a presentation on the state of the food service department.

• The board members and school staff gave a recap of the open house the district held on Monday, Jan. 16.

• The board approved the consent agenda, which included the resignation of elementary school principal Pete Nusbaum, who was then approved/hired as the new middle school principal as part of a later section of the consent agenda.

• The also took time to talk about their experiences at the WASB State Convention in Milwaukee.

• The board approved the Fund 60 Student Activity Accounts for 2017.

• The board approved the number of available spaces for special education for open enrollment as well as the number of spaces available for regular education students for open enrollment. The board approved a varied number of spots for special education depending on the certain programs, while they approved no limit on the number of students for regular education in order to make it easier for students to enroll in the charter/virtual school.

• The board's final core agenda item for the meeting saw the board approve an additional elementary play director for 2016-2017 due to increased participation from the students. A total of 128 students want to be part of the play.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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