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SCC School Board discusses adding more options for students

The St. Croix Central Board of Education discussed many subjects during its Dec. 5 regular school board meeting, but the topic that will have the biggest impact on the students in the district came from a presentation by Superintendent Tim Widiker about visions and ideas for future programs and options for students.

Widiker's presentation included programs such as Panther Manufacturing, which would be a school based business; Panther Construction, which would include adding more construction classes, such as building a house; Panther Production, which would be an audio/visual program that would include video production classes and working with the new video boards in the gym, as well as the new technology in the auditorium; and Panther Farm, which would be farm-to-school type classes and clubs.

"We are an educational institution that does a great job, but we can do even more," Widiker said. "As a society, we have probably gone a little too far in our thinking that all we do has to prepare a kid for college, but the trades are really hurting for folks and not every kid wants to go to college. If we can provide opportunities for kids to go into that, it is just another great thing we can do."

Widiker told the board that he hopes to implement at least two of the many ideas he and his staff have generated this school year, even if it is just laying the groundwork to build on in the future.

"A phrase I've used a lot this fall is: 'We can do this. We put a man on the moon in 1969, which is 47 years ago, so we can certainly do this," Widiker said. "We will start small and go big, so my challenge to the group it to start at least two of these in 2016-17 and I know we are going to get there just from the initial start we have had since we first sat down as a group to talk about these ideas."

The board felt strongly that giving students more options is the right thing to do and are looking forward to what can come of these ideas. The group shared their opinions and feelings on the right way to go forward during the 20 minute conversation.

"I would love for each of those groups to come back and say, 'this is what the program can do,' and I don't care if it takes six phases or 20 phases to get there," said school board member John Hueg. "If this is ultimately where we want to get to, and we can add two classes now to get start, then let's get those two classes going because that is going to help build the program."

Construction update

Widiker also updated the board on the facilities projects going on around the district during Monday's meeting. He said that the school board should be able to meet in their new quarters at the district office at the Jan. 23 meeting.

The high school, according to Widiker, is almost complete with furniture and such being moved in next week. The only items left at the high school are the punch list as well as the high school office remodel, which is scheduled for next summer, and the high school entrance remodel.

The school's energy project is also underway, with LED lights having been installed in the last week or so in the high school parking lot. The middle school duct wrapping part of the project is still in the works.

The new video scoreboards for the high school gym will be delivered on Dec. 19, Widiker said, while the stadium scoreboard project will start in the spring. The gym scoreboards, according to Widiker, should be installed and operational some time over Christmas break.

Widiker said the energy project is currently on or even under budget.

Highlight on youth

The board heard a Central Kids CARE Program presentation from Program Coordinator Heidi Usgaard and Jennifer Jacobsen during the Highlight On Youth portion of the meeting. The pair told the board that the program currently has 130 children signed up, with more signing up every week. According to Usgaard and Jacobsen, the program has 40-50 kids a day during the school year.

Other business

-- The school board heard a performance from the high school Chamber Choir Vocal Ensemble who sang a series of short Christmas carols.

-- A tentative date has been set for a school projects tour—including the bus garage, the elementary, middle and high schools—for the residents of the district on Monday, Jan. 16, from 4-8 p.m., which is a staff only day and has no event scheduled for that night.

-- Activities director Jeremy Kerg gave the board a rundown of the fall sports accomplishments, as well as the team's GPAs.

-- Director of Teaching and Learning Glenn Webb gave a short presentation about a DPI EEP pilot program that the school has been allowed to take part in. The program would allow for teachers to renew their license through the work they already do with the Educator Effectiveness Plan rather than having to take classes or go through the Professional Development Plan.

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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