EL-G district gets extra first-time state aid

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – The latest state budget was a mixed bag for public school districts, but there was a pleasant surprise in the bag for the Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah School District.

District Superintendent Ann Buechel- Haack informed the School Board Tuesday that, for the first time, the district will receive sparsity aid from the state this school year - $154,800.

The aid program was created by the state eight years ago to aid small school districts. But, Buechel-Haack told the board, Elkhart Lake had not qualified because the formula for determining the aid had included average income for the district in the eligibility requirements.

“The budget bill took out the income criteria and we were able to be fully funded at $300 per student,” Buechel-Haack explained. “It’s the first time ever Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah has been eligible. As a district, it was wonderful, because it was money we did not figure on. It was very good news.”

The district is one of six across the state that qualified for the aid for the first time under the new formulation, according to the Department of Public Instruction. Eligibility is based on 2014-15 enrollment of no more than 725 and fewer than 10 students per square mile.

Buechel-Haack told the board that the recently-adopted biennial budget will have a number of impacts on the district which the board will be dealing with over the next several months.

The board started with the first reading of some policy revisions needed to meet mandates included in the state budget.

“We will be seeing many policy changes this year, but some need to be done right away, are required by law,” Buechel-Haack said.

HVAC project update

Board members walked to the meeting room filled with construction material from the HVAC project at the high school, but Director of Building and Grounds Brian Feldmann assured them that the project would be completed in time for the opening of school on Sept. 1.

He noted that work was farther along in the elementary school building, but the entire project is still on schedule to wrap up before school starts.

“In the elementary school, the third floor ceilings are done, the rooms are pretty clean and the teachers are moving in today,” Feldmann reported.

“At the high school, the ceiling is pretty much in and the grid work on the lower levels is almost complete,” he continued. “We did the last two lifts for the gym and put the last two units in.”

“The custodial crew and the cleaning crew have been great,” Buechel-Haack told the board. “Everybody’s just rolled with the punches and are working to get ready for school.” Students present award-winning project

High school students Alyssa Bartlett and Brittany Schneider presented their Family First project that won a gold medal in the FCCLA national competition in Washington, D.C., earlier this year.

The two students organized and staged a “Walk With a Purpose” fundraiser walk in the high school gym for three student body members who had family members battling cancer.

“We were able to give each recipient more than $500,” Schneider told the board. Bartlett said the goal had been to have 50 participants in the walk and they exceeded that with 52 participants.

“They both stepped outside their comfort zone for this,” Family and Consumer Science Beth Roehl told the board members. “They learned a lot of leadership skills.”

She added that the school had seven students advance to the state level in the FCCLA STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) competition, with six of the seven reaching the nationals.

“It’s the first time we’ve had all our competitors come home with gold,” from the national competition, said Roehl.

Other students who took part in the competition will be presenting to the board at future meetings.

Other business

Buechel-Haack reported that the audit of the district’s finances “went very well.”

She noted that the fund balance finished about $92,000 above budget.

The board followed her recommendation to designate about $42,000 of that amount to technology needs and $50,000 to HVAC “so we can start building that up for future needs,” and hopefully avoid having to borrow for another major project as the district is currently doing, the superintendent explained.

She also said the greenhouse project is paid for and an open house is planned in November.

The board approved three personnel appointments: Amy Narges as a half-time third-grade teacher, Leslie Corbin as the Global Education Achievement Certificate coordinator and Adam LaBorde as a fulltime high school aide and JV 2 girls volleyball coach.

High School Principal James Brown reported on two cooperative learning programs the school will be undertaking with districts outside the state.

One, for history classes, will be with students from the Ferguson, Mo., schools. Brown noted that school officials in the St. Louis suburb with a population of more than 20,000 said their students are looking forward to learning about life in a high school “with only 175 students.”

The other program will be in cooperation with an art teacher in DeSoto, Tex.

Brown said that came about as a result of a meeting he had with the art teacher in DeSoto, who happened to spend time this summer in Elkhart Lake.

The high school principal added that the teacher in question expressed great interest in relocating to Elkhart Lake should the district ever have an opening.

“With the chrome books (personal computers) and teleconferencing, we are able to go outside our walls,” for instruction and interaction, Brown noted.

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