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School board approves purchase of new policy reference

The St. Croix Central School District needs to review and update some of its policies, but it can't do so without a current reference or policy service.

Prior to the Feb. 21 school board meeting, the board had looked into the Wisconsin Association of School Board Policy Reference Guide and Neola Policy Services.

While the WASB is more cost effective at $5,800, it requires time, as someone within the school district would have to do all the work to make changes to current policies.

Neola Services, with a significantly larger price tag, would eliminate the need for school personnel to work on updating the policies, as the service inevitably does all of the work for the district.

An early-bird special from WASB would save the district $1,700 off the regular reference price, so it was important the board make a decision on policy references at the Monday meeting.

Putting the topic of cost aside, the district was overdue on reviewing its policies.

Superintendent David Bradley said it is important to start updating school policies now, as the price of not having policies lined up with the current requirements could be significantly higher than purchasing some type of policy reference or service.

"My concern is that we have something that comes up and bites us because the policies aren't up to speed."

Board member Scott De Gross said that the board also needs to consider the cost of district personnel going through each policy.

While the board members agreed that the policies needed to be reviewed, the question of how high a priority the updates would be for the district arose.

De Gross said even if the board purchased the WASB reference, "you might own it and not be able to implement it."

The board discussed that if the district purchased the reference it would need to ensure it had personnel resources to do the reference justice, by devoting time to updating selected policies of importance.

Board member Jeff Redmon said he would work to develop a plan to update the most relevant policies for the district.

"We can't start at the beginning of the (reference) book. We can't go through 400 (policies) in six months," Redmon said.

Redmon said he would work to form a committee to discuss a plan for updating policies with the new resource, especially the most significant risk policies.

At the Feb. 21 meeting, the school board voted 4-2 to purchase the WASB Policy Reference Guide, for $5,800, for the purpose of district policy revisions. Board members John Hueg and Scott De Gross voted against purchasing the reference. Board member Kirk Lyksett was not present at the Monday night meeting.

In other news:

• Shirley Arneson, director of teaching and learning, updated the board on the fourth-graders' performance of "Little Red and the Fairy Tale Blues."

She said while all the fourth grade students participated in the play, 59 students had speaking parts.

"Obviously interest is still high in fourth grade for getting up on stage and learning a lot lines and a lot of songs," she said.

With only 13 hours of practice, Arneson said she was very proud of all the performers.

• A representative from Baird presented the board with future school levy options for prepayment of general obligation funds.

• The board announced that Kyle Cress is the St. Croix Central Class of 2011 valedictorian and Katelyn Bonte is the salutatorian

• There are 28 honor graduates in the Class of 2011.

• High School Principal Glenn Webb said there is a group of around 50 students being monitored and given additional guidance and support to increase their academic achievement.

• The number of free and reduced lunches continues to increase in the district.

• The high school has three wrestlers heading to state -- Lauden Wood, Cody Nyhagen and Marcus Malecek.

• Steve Sanders, elementary school principal, said the school is starting to see an increase in enrollment in the early childhood program.

• Kindergarten Roundup is March 25. Sanders said the numbers seem low right now, but he is hoping they are only low because roundup is three weeks later this year.

• Sanders said reading scores have gone up at the elementary school since the school started using the Fountas Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention System.

• The board approved the contract with Trinity Lutheran Church of Hammond to lease space for a 4-Year-Old Kindergarten program; contingent on state funding.

• The next regular school board meeting is March 21 at 7 p.m.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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