A WORD FROM MR. WEBER

HERE WE GO!
Superintendent Wayne Weber

As I write this article, our school staff is in full preparation mode for the start of the new school year. In no time at all, our classrooms will be full of students and staff ready to get back to the routine that school schedules provide. Final touches are being made to prep buildings, and administrators are working on making the last few hires to complete our staff.

Additionally, our board has spent time this summer reviewing data from the latest facility community survey. At a workshop on July 6, School Perceptions President Bill Foster shared a summary of the survey results with the board. The survey participation rate was 27%, well above the average participation rate of 18% for similar surveys distributed during the same time period. There were a number of takeaways from the survey that Bill highlighted in his presentation.

  • A majority of all key subgroups support revising a plan to update the schools in pursuing another referendum
  • A majority of all subgroups would support a plan that closes one or more schools
  • The two schools the district should explore closing as part of the facility master plan should be Rosendale Primary and Brandon Elementary
  • Respondents felt the top five programs / services were:
    • Developing student employability skills
    • Helping students develop a plan for life after high school
    • Providing access to the current technology
    • Programming for struggling students
    • Programming for students with disabilities
  • Respondents felt the top five facility projects were:
    • Improving school safety / security
    • Creating more hands-on learning spaces / experiences
    • Operating energy efficient buildings
    • Updating technical education (shop) / agriculture areas
    • Improving classroom environments (temperature control, lighting, etc.)
  • The district enjoys a high-level of overall satisfaction as compared to similar school districts

(The complete survey summary can be found on our webpage, along with pdf documents of the survey sections with responses and unedited comments from the survey.

Based on the information gathered from this survey, the board decided to move forward with plans to pursue a referendum in April 2023. Over the next few months, the board will continue to develop options to pursue and gather additional community feedback. Please take time to review the survey results and comments. Stay tuned for more referendum information coming through a variety of media platforms.

Another gearing up process led to a big change this summer! Our football / track bleachers have been removed and the site has been prepped for bleacher replacements at a later date. The district contracts with a vendor to complete annual inspections of inside and outside bleachers at all campuses. The football / track bleachers have been flagged in the past for repairs or upgrades to meet code requirements. This spring, our bleachers were flagged with approximately $50,000 in needed repairs and upgrades just to meet the minimum code requirements as the existing bleachers could no longer be grandfathered under old safety codes. This amount was far greater than anticipated so we sought a second opinion. The second inspection from an independent bleacher repair company provided worse news. This inspection deemed our bleachers unsafe for use, period. The report stated the understructure of the bleachers, which I believe was original to when the track was built in the mid 1970s, was unsafe and could not bear the weight of the code upgrades. Additionally, the report indicated that there was serious concern that the bleachers were safe to support spectators even without adding the additional weight of the upgrades. At that point, with spectator safety in danger, the board made the decision to have the existing bleachers dismantled, the material recycled, and the area prepped for new bleachers that will be purchased at a later date.

The site prep work has been completed. This includes a new level gravel walkway from the school to the bleachers. The district is renting bleachers ($7,500) for this football season with the intent of engaging in a capital campaign to raise money to purchase permanent bleachers in the future. The old bleachers had a 950 person capacity with a good portion of that space regularly going unused. The permanent bleachers we are planning on purchasing at a later date would have a capacity of approximately 620. The bleachers we are renting this year have a capacity of 480. Additionally, unlike in the past, there will be level ground for those interested in bringing chairs or standing. While it is not ideal, we believe it is a workable solution for the time being. More information regarding our fundraising efforts for our new bleachers will be coming out shortly. 

Bring on the new year!