Officials, board tout district’s report card

by Dave Cary
Review Correspondent

PLYMOUTH — The school district’s strategic plan is to maintain as high a standard of education as possible for all who attend.

To help schools see where they stood, the state developed a ‘report card’ based largely on test and other data. After this, the district decided to develop a ‘report card’ on its own, in what might be termed self-analysis.

Over the years, several School Board members have said they wished the public knew more about just how much is going on within the district — and said they had been surprised at its extent after becoming board members.

Tuesday, Assistant Superintendent Dan Mella told the board that with this in mind, the district’s self-developed ‘report card’ needed to be “marketed” more strongly than simply being available on the district website.

Mella used the website presentation as a guide via a large-screen projection of a computer screen connected to the site at

To get to the ‘report card’ he said, look under “Why Plymouth” near the top left of the opening page. Open it and there several major headings — academic excellence, excellent staff, innovative opportunities, postgraduate success, extracurriculars, arts, wellness and community engagement.

Click any of these and you get statements that serve as further links, most to facts, some to stated district aims.

Under “academic excellence,” for example, one sees that:

• College-bound PHS seniors averaged a high ACT test score of 24.4.

• A higher than normal number of PHS grads are considered prepared for college.

• Members of the 2016 class graduated with an average of 10.7 college credits (up to 66 would be possible at PHS).

• The 2017 class earned $2.1 million in scholarships.

• Some 73 percent of PHS students have taken at least one Cum Laude level class.

• Many students have earned workforce certifications participated in the Youth Apprenticeship program through school/industry programs.

• Overall, 85 percent of PHS graduates go on to further education.

Under “Expert staff” one finds:

• 108 of 175 district teachers have earned Masters Degrees, many through a program developed by the district and UWGB jointly.

• The staff develops district curriculum itself rather that purchasing off-the-shelf varieties.

• Many staff members — and the staff as a whole — have been given awards from outside organizations.

• In the preceding year, 16 staff members also taught at the college level.

There is a lot more in the ‘report card’ than this, Mella said. “But it is a good place to start.”

• • •

The board accepted the following gifts and donations:

• $8,000 from Ruth de Young Kohler for educational programming at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

• $2,172.14 from the Fairview PTO for student transportation.

• $527.43 from the Plymouth High School German Class for student transportation.

• $498.63 from the Parkview PTK for student transportation.

• $3,710 from the Plymouth Rotary Club for elementary garden sheds.

• • •

In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation request of Lisa Miller, Riverview Middle School cross categorical teacher, effective at the end of the last school year. Miller served the district for eight years.

Two teaching contracts were approved:

• A 50 percent contract for Jennifer Weinhold to be a 4K teacher at Horizon Elementary School. She earned her Bachelors Degree from Lakeland University and has 13 years teaching in the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District.

• A 70 percent contract for Corey Holloway to teach music at Horizon Elementary. He earned his Bachelors Degree from UW-LaCrosse. This will be his first year of teaching.

In support staff matters:

• Connor Schultz, administrative assistant for Community Education, has resigned after serving the district for five years.

• Tammy Vermuelen, special ed aide at Riverview has resigned after serving the district for one year.

• Theresa Martell, special ed aide at Riverview, resigned after serving the district for five years.

The board approved an adjustments to its pay schedule for substitute teachers. School administration had surveyed 25 districts in CESA 7 and found schools averaged just under $103 per day with $10 upward increments at either the 10- or 20-day marks for longer-term substitutions.

Based on this, and with a stated purpose of keeping the district attractive to teachers, the board approved a daily rate of $105 per day, with an increase to $115 at the ten-day mark; in addition a premium rate of $125 per day will go to substitutes who have retired from the district and to others deemed premium by the administration.

• • •

District Business Manager Jon Miller presented the proposed 2017-18 budget for presentation to district voters at the district annual meeting Sept. 19. In contrast to school board meetings, at this meeting all district residents will have a vote in matters brought up, chiefly the budget.

Prior approval of a preliminary budget, such as the one presented at this board meeting, is required by state law. Typically, a budget is developed over the summer in stages as numbers affecting it change in relation to how many students are enrolled in particular grades and many other factors. This process goes on until final approval, possibly in October.

Miller said this budget had more holes than normal at this stage largely because the state has still not adopted its budget, the final version of which is likely to contain an increase in state aid with several options concerning its size under discussion.

Miller said this preliminary budget was largely built around estimates and assumptions. It calls for total expenditures of $29,499,201, an increase of about $1.6 million over last year’s $27,945,912.

The levy, however would actually decrease by some 2.28 percent from $11,213.860 to $10,958,029.

The board approved forwarding this budget to the annual meeting.

• • •

The board gave final approval to a package of policy updates as suggested by NEOLA, an organization that helps schools develop policies for setting its direction and addressing policy implications and mandates brought about by laws and regulations from all levels of government. The organization has over 1,300 clients in seven states.

This was the package’s second reading. Board president Tim St. Clair said the board members had an extensive discussion of the updates at a Committee of the Whole meeting and that board members had prepared for it by reading. “It’s not a great read but we DO read it”, St. Clair commented.

The board also approved a set of revisions to the 2017-18 Elementary School Student and Parent Handbook.

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