Wednesday, May 28, 2014 | NEWS
Frederic school goes social
Grants aid district programs
Gregg Westigard | Staff writer
FREDERIC – The Frederic School District has gone social. Information on the new district website and its links to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was a highlight of the school board meeting Wednesday, May 21. There was also a review of almost $69,000 in grants received during the year and word that the district should end the year on budget. The regular monthly meeting was attended by a number of teachers but no members of the public.
The social outreach theme was an ongoing part of the meeting. The district is trying to tell the public the story of what is happening within the school walls, Administrator Josh Robinson said. The district has redesigned its website, with the help of Andrea North and Marketing on the Move, and has added links to three popular social media sites. The public can now go to frederic.k12.wi.us and have access to student news, videos, district news, school menus, sports results and more, including pictures of the weekend graduation program. Robinson said it is like having a Frederic TV station.
The website and outreach are partly the result of the district’s technology upgrade effort. Some of that effort was funded by grants, and Robinson presented an overview of $68,900 in grant awards received by the Frederic district during the current school year. Those 10 grants have been used for everything from equipment purchases to staff training to personal books for young readers.
For example, food service director Judy Shafer won $500 in a baking contest and used the money to buy new serving tables. A special education mobility grant of $16,200 was invested in new devices and staff training on how to use the new equipment. A $24,000 Bremer Foundation grant went to the library for new equipment including a 3-D printer. There were grants for the trips to the Science Museum and the Polk County Recycling Center for Earth Day. A Book Trust grant lets elementary students “buy” books that they can take home. Elementary Principal Kelly Steen said some students did not own any books at home before this program which helps them keep involved in reading over the summer. Steen said the students have started book discussions on their own and call the program “awesome.”
A Science, Technology, Engineering, Math grant of $8,300 a year for three years is being used in part to rewrite curriculum to meet next-generation science standards, science teacher Jeff Larcom told the board. That will include a weeklong training for four teachers this July. He said the students will be learning why things happen and how things happen in programs that involve teachers who are up to date on the newest knowledge and Internet links to science and engineering programs from programs across the country.
There was news at the beginning end of the school program as well. Erin Hansford, 4K teacher, told how the youngest students are learning the alphabet using phonics, the sound of letters and a sign language idea. She said the results have been very good and showed a video of the students involved in sound games and showing their new skills.
Robinson told the board that the district budget numbers are on track for the current year that ends Monday, June 30. Full numbers will be available after the audit is completed. A proposed 2014-15 budget will be presented in June. Robinson said that health insurance costs are rising but the increase is being modified by a lowering in the district’s claim experience which was over 105 percent of premium a few years ago but now has dropped to a current 60-percent ratio. Robinson said that number may rise to a possible 85 percent but a combination of staff prevention and wellness programs together with more medical awareness of costs has lowered the district’s health insurance costs.
The retirement of two longtime teachers was accepted. Gary Olby has been an elementary teacher for 42 years. Karen Manwiller has been a 6-12 special education teacher at Frederic for 18 years. Present special education teacher Cory Schmidt will be going to full time next year. Carrie Kjellberg is the newly hired Spanish teacher for Frederic and Siren, and Katie Jacobson is the new business teacher.
The initial incoming open-enrollment-student numbers are on the increase, Robinson said. There are 13 new enrollment applications, triple the number from three years ago. That would bring the total number of incoming open-enrollment students to 31 if all come to Frederic next September. The district has had an open-enrollment deficit, but the gap between in and out has been decreasing.
The June school board meeting date has been changed to Wednesday, June 11, a week earlier than normal. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.