KUSD school board meeting report
The Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) school board met this evening for their regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Recognition awards were presented. The Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Third Grade Essay Contest Grand Champions were presented to two Southport Elementary School students. Also, four Kenosha schools were presented with the Wisconsin Schools of Recognition awards. The four schools were: Grewenow Elementary, Vernon Elementary, Lincoln Middle, and McKinley Middle Schools. Eric Barta received the highest award for the 3D Visualization and Animation category in the State Skills USA Competition, and the 22nd award nationally.
Public comments were made by Gib Ostman, Scott Farnsworth, and Ray Misner. Ostman was amazed at how the indifferent the board was at the September 12th annual meeting when a citizen asked how to get a resolution on the agenda. He also urged the board to start bargaining fairly, honestly, and openly now that the judge has set aside the Act 10 legislation.
Farnsworth wanted to peruse a detailed record of all expenses to see how much the district was spending on the legal opinions of circuit court judges. Misner invited the superintendent to participate in a pre-taping of his radio show to discuss some of the changes that have been put in place over the summer months.
During the superintendent’s report, Michele Hancock allowed time to six KUSD school teachers who traveled to Beijing, China, as guest educators in the summer exchange program. Each spoke about their perceived benefits, and they presented gifts to the board, including a banner and a 25-DVD set of China sights, which was filmed during the time of the Olympics.
Hancock also said that, each month, starting with this month, two schools will present a report to the board on goings-on at their schools. Tonight, the report was from Frank and Wilson Schools. The presenters were Yolanda Jackson and Heather Connolly. They said that they are in the second year of their extended year calendar. Expeditionary learning is also a part of their learning process. Every month, they have a community circle, where they recognize students’ character traits. The short presentation outlined field work, technology, multi-age families, looping, and the additional 24 days to their school calendar. Connolly said that last year, a few families opted out of the calendar, but this year, there were no families who did so.
The board approved the entire consent agenda unanimously after two items were pulled for further discussion. The first consent agenda item had to do with recommendations concerning appointments, leaves of absence, retirements, and resignations. School board member Jo Ann Taube wanted to know how many recalls and resignations there were, and Rebecca Stevens wanted to know how much was being spent on unemployment and benefits for the district’s layoffs.
The second consent item pulled had to do with policies and rules regarding the preparation of the budget. Stevens also wanted to clarify how the original $7 million shortfall in the budget now became only $1 million. She wanted to ensure her complete understanding before being asked to vote on the budget. Bob Nuzzo said that he is a member of the Finance Committee, and he understands it completely. He said, “This administration saved $7 million. An additional $4 million will be added back into the reserve, which will take the total to $16 million by the end of the school year. Fifteen percent of operating expenses are what should be in reserve, which should be approximately $40 million, so we still have quite a ways to go. But, I understood it all. There is nothing hidden. You have done a first class job,” he said to Tina Schmitz, chief financial officer.
Stevens then asked for a detailed report of how the $7 million was saved. Hancock said that this report would be re-sent to the board.
Taube read the donations to the district, which included labor and materials for the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) strategies signage at Indian Trail High School and Academy from David Fricke of Creative Advertising, 500 t-shirts donated by Jockey International, Inc., to Somers Elementary School, and the 25 Travel Around China DVD’s for use in the district’s classrooms, donated by the Haidian Experimental Middle/High School in Beijing, China (already mentioned above).