The gym, lunch room, and even a few of the hallways of Grewenow Elementary School were jam-packed this past Saturday, for their second annual art and craft fair. Over forty vendors were on hand, with such a variety of items that last-minute holiday shoppers were bound to find something for almost anyone on their list. Candles, home décor, jewelry and ladies’ accessories were plentiful, but there were some more unique items to be found too. At Larry Kruescher’s table, the Packers/Bears fan rivalry played out as he had steel football helmet signs for both teams for sale. Wild ‘N Welded had some whimsical metal sculptures available, and Michelle Gogoel was selling empty bottles that she’d turned into working lamps.
Vendors also contributed items to a raffle, with the tables for this stretching down almost the length of one of the halls. Across the way, the jolly old elf himself, Santa, and Mrs. Claus were greeting children and posing for pictures with them. Students from the first through fifth grades entertained visitors to the fair, singing carols in both English and German.
Another special addition was a table set up so that people could stop and write a letter or a card to a soldier serving overseas this holiday season. They will be distributed using information from the website any soldier.com.
After visitors shopped and enjoyed all of the activities, there were plenty of snacks and other treats to top off the afternoon. Joe Catuara was there from Trolley Dogs, offering service with a smile and plenty of humor. The Grewenow PTA had dessert covered, with baked goods and beverages available too. Judging by the crowds and festive atmosphere, Grewenow’s 2012 art and craft fair should go down in the books as a success.
At 2:42 p.m., Pleasant Prairie Rescue is responding to Prairie Lane School, 10717 47th Ave.
UPDATE 2:43 p.m. — Injury is a female who fell while on the playground.
With 85 of 87 polls reporting partial results, here are results in the Kenosha Unified School Board election: incumbent Carl J. Bryan 8909 , incumbent Mary K. Snyder 7721, Tamarra A. Coleman 6644, Todd L. Jacobs 6310, Steven Davis 6301, Shanon Molina 5399.
The top three candidates will win the available seats.
- James Mason is the Wisconsin National Geographic Bee Semi-Finalist. He will be going to the finals competition on Friday in Madison.
- The National Scholastic Art Awards Regional Winners.
- Andrew McNair is the American Choral Director’s Association Winner. He was present with his teacher, Polly Amborn, from Tremper High School.
- National Honors for Tremper German Students. Twenty-five students won honors, and three were in the 90th percentile or higher. Several students wore “RIP German Program” t-shirts.
- The Tremper Battle of the Books Team.
- The Academic Showcase Logo Design Winner, and
- The Scholastic Writing Awards Regional Winners.
This evening, the Kenosha County Democratic Party hosted a forum for the six Kenosha Unified School Board (KUSD) candidates. There are three open board seats. The candidates are: incumbent president Mary Snyder and incumbent Carl Bryan, Tamarra Coleman, Todd Jacobs, Shannon Molina, and Steven Davis. Below is a summary of the statements made by each candidate and their answers to randomly selected audience questions.
Each candidate was given four minutes to introduce themselves and give the reasons why they want to be on the board:
At tonight’s Transit Commission meeting, Ron Iwen, transportation director, gave the commission a brief update of the Saturday bus ridership. The graph that he distributed started with Saturday, January 7th, which showed a total of 428 passengers on the four Saturday bus routes. The following three Saturdays were in the 200 range (223 to 282); a possible reason given was the colder weather. On Saturday, February 4th, the ridership took an upturn, to 395, possibly due to the nicer weather. And the next two Saturdays showed a total in the 300 range (317, and 328, respectively). Click here to view this chart: Saturday Service. Iwen stated that this was more than he expected. At the next meeting, he promised to bring more details about the ridership.
Last year, with eleven buses on the road, there was a total of 1,100 to 1,200 riders on a typical Saturday. “These numbers could include half going to a destination, receiving a transfer, and then a return trip home,” he said.
Tonight, the KUSD Board met to discuss the a new personalized learning model, which requires that the way we educate our children in the district will change. This was a special joint meeting of the school board and the Curriculum/Program Standing Committee. The proposed student schedule at the high school level will be transformed to create a flexible eight-block schedule.
Michele Hancock, superintendent opened the meeting. The room was filled to capacity with audience members. Public comments were not allowed during this meeting. Hancock then turned it over to Dan Tenuta, assistant superintendent of secondary school leadership, who stated the goals of the project: to meet the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Literacy in All Content Areas; and to provide a personalized learning approach, taking into consideration technological changes. The common core state standards have been adopted by over 40 states.
As was reported last Friday, the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) is contemplating the closure of one of its middle schools, McKinley Middle School, located at 5710 – 32nd Avenue. (Click here to read that story: “McKinley Middle School May Close, Reports Say.”) Tonight, an informational meeting was held at the school for parents. About 150 people filled the auditorium.
In attendance were officials from the school: KUSD’s school superintendent Michele Hancock, assistant superintendent of secondary schools Dan Tenuta, and facilities director Patrick Finnemore. Three aldermen were also in attendance. The alderperson of the district, Anthony Nudo, was joined by G. John Ruffolo and David Bogdala. Kenosha County supervisor David Arendt was also in the audience. Mary Snyder, KUSD school board president, was present and spoke at the end of the meeting.
Word from sources is that an announcement was made today at McKinley Middle School that the building may be closed at the end of this school year.
At Tuesday night’s KUSD Board meeting, it was voted to ratify the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the district and Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.), Local No. 168, effective January 24, 2012. On Monday, January 16, 2012, the S.E.I.U. local voted and agreed to modify the current collective bargaining agreement between the union and the KUSD. The terms of the MOU are as follows:
Benefits: a 5.8% employee contribution to Wisconsin Retirement System; and a 12 % employee contribution to healthcare premium costs. Deductions will start on January 25, 2011. The board stated that it appreciated the contribution.
Tonight, the KUSD Board met to discuss the resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of $9.275 million taxable general obligation refunding bonds, series 2012. At the September 27, 2011, Board meeting, the Board voted to approve the recommendation of refinancing Fund 38 debt consisting of taxable G. O. refunding bonds, Series 2002B. The original plan was to go out to the market in October, 2011, but this was later postponed. Moody’s Investor Service requested an investor’s call shortly after that Board meeting. Administration and their financial consultants, PMA Securities, postponed the offering until such time that the district’s updated rating was known. “The Moody’s rating, as of January 18th, 2012, is A1, negative outlook. The reasons for this rating are the CDO litigation and the material decline in the fund balance. The district has taken a proactive approach in turning things around.” These were the PMA Securities’ representative’s comments at tonight’s meeting. (To read about the September meeting, click here: Dr. Michele Hancock Announces a Bit of Good News.)
Audit/Budget/Finance Committee Meeting
- The 2010-2011 financial audit report was reviewed. Dave Maccoux, CPA, of Schenck, S.C., answered committee members’ questions. Bob Nuzzo wanted a synopsis of Maccoux’s trend analysis. Other post-employment benefits (OPEB) cost the district $18 million annually. Only $3.5 million is funded.
The Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) School Board met last night. Six teachers were recognized for attaining their National Board certification, as well as football coach Jed Kennedy from Bradford High School for coaching the State championship team.
There were two citizens’ comments: One parent wanted to know the difference between policy and practices. He also made the board aware that kids don’t have enough time to eat their lunch when they are taken outside for 15 minutes of their 30-minute lunch period. Another citizen spoke on the significant events of the past year: the dissolution of the mediation agreement with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Hispanic administrators leaving the district, and minors being questioned by police regarding gang activity without their parents or a lawyer being present.
Joint Personnel/Policy & Curriculum/Program Committees
These two committees’ members were invited to attend a training session for an on-line learning collaborative environment computer system wherein educators and students can share resources and participate in on-line discussions. It’s called My Big Campus, and it’s available at http://www.mybigcampus.com. Members were given sign-on information and passwords and were given a demonstration of the basic features of this system. It was developed to be very similar to FaceBook because that system is comfortable for many users. The committee members who will be part of the four-day school week exploration committee are being asked to read a book together and use this system to participate in on-line discussions.
This system is being used right now by KUSD administrators, teachers and students; there are currently 13,000 users in it. Schools currently involved are Washington and Lincoln Middle Schools, Tremper and Bradford High Schools, and Indian Trail Academy. It is planned for a full district roll out, even down to first graders. Teachers can use this system to give assignments, and students can submit their assignments on-line. Teachers from all over the world can collaborate with each other on ways to use technology, etc.
At this evening’s KUSD standing committee meetings, the topic of the relocation of Brompton School, Harborside Academy and Paideia Academy was discussed. All three schools have leases that expire in July, 2012. The lease payments at both Harborside and Paideia are well above the market value for the buildings that they are currently in. There is also an interest in expanding Brompton to a K-8 school to help its financial stability. Additionally, with the pressing need to further reduce the KUSD budget, relocation of these three charter schools presented a cost savings opportunity.
Tremper High School in Kenosha was evacuated today.
Various media reports say it was for a bomb threat. Fire and police responded a little before 8 a.m.
While the incident was being investigated, 85th Street by the school, and 30th Avenue from 85th to 87th Streets, was blocked off.
Students were eventually let back in the building to continue their school day. There was considerable fire and police presence at the school.
At tonight’s KUSD board meeting, Mary Snyder, board president, informed the roughly 125-member audience that the KUSD is at the maximum tax levy according to the State formula. Therefore, a decrease of 1.04 % from last year’s tax levy was unanimously voted upon. Snyder made it clear that “it was not the board’s choice to lower the tax levy; they are bound by State law. We have difficult decisions coming up,” she said.
Superintendent Michele Hancock gave a presentation to the board and the audience entitled, “The Truth of Reality.” She presented the facts as to how the district finds itself in the ‘financial crisis’ it’s in today. “In an unprecedented move, eight hundred million dollars ($800 million) was taken out of public education in one fell swoop,” Hancock stated. “This is a major decline in support. Plus, a 4.7% decrease in property values is something that the KUSD cannot control. Some people say that we can’t afford to provide a quality school system. But, I say that we can’t afford not to provide a quality school system.”
At tonight’s Board of Park Commissioners meeting, one topic of discussion related to the Park Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for 2012 was the Anderson and Washington Pools. Apparently, the Health Department inspected both pools and found issues to be addressed at each one. The issues which need to be addressed at Anderson Pool, however, will close the pool for the entire summer next year.
Jeff Warnock, park superintendent, explained the mechanical fixes needed. The valve and filter house controls needs to be brought up from an underground pit. Currently, maintenance persons need to climb down a ladder, which is a dangerous proposition. It’s possible to bring the pipes up by extending them. The current pipes and wheels are rotting from the inside out. The pressure gauge has crumbled around the pipe itself. The fixes will make it more accessible and safer to work on. Continue reading
On Tuesday, Oct. 11, four KUSD standing committee meetings were held. (Please note that what is approved at these committee meetings is then sent on to the full Board of Education for their review. That meeting will be held on October 25th.) Below is a report of the highlights of each standing committee meeting:
Planning, Facilities, and Equipment Committee Meeting
- The offer to purchase Columbus Elementary School, located at 6410 – 25th Avenue, was approved. The market analysis was approximately $185,000, and the one valid offer received through the request for proposal process was from Amy 1, LLC, for $110,000. The planned use for the building is for a childcare center.
At tonight’s KUSD Board meeting, Dr. Michele Hancock, Superintendent, addressed the Board and approximately 125 people in the audience. First of all, she reported about the news that just hit tonight. The Security Exchange Commission took action against the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), who has agreed to pay $30.4 million to settle federal civil charges of misleading five Wisconsin school districts that lost $200 million invested in risky securities. The KUSD was one of those school districts. Click here for the entire story, as reported by CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/09/27/ap/business/main20112537.shtml.
At 10:58 a.m., Kenosha Fire and Rescue units are responding to a call at Bullen Middle School, 2804 – 39th Ave., Kenosha.
Dispatch says the call is for a 30-year-old male teacher who is unconscious, but breathing.
- There was an emergency project for Bradford High School’s water main replacement in the amount of $15,213, the week prior to the start of school, which was funded by the available variance in the major maintenance budget. Continue reading
At tonight’s KUSD board meeting, an update was given on the Transformation Plan. Mr. Gary Vaillancourt, the district’s spokesman and co-chairman of the committee studying collaborative partnerships, was responsible for arranging the printing of the booklets which explained the transformation plan in detail. The plan will also be available on KUSD’s website for downloading in approximately one week.
Last week we had a post that included info about the Harborside Community Urban Garden Project’s request for a $71,000 grant to continue its activities next year.
At the end of last school year, KenoWi went along on a tour of the project’s sites. Above are photos from that day. Below is a Q&A interview with Mary S. Bohning of Harborside Academy who leads the program.
Mary S. Bohning: The Five Acres and No Mule Farm began with the introduction of the students to the site at XTEN Industries in the fall and culminated in the spring with the establishment of the garden beds. We began with four beds in the beginning which were funded by Mr. John Zenner, a businessman from Elkhorn (faculty member Mrs. Wambold’s father). Donations continued, and we were able to build a total of 13 beds. I had successfully partnered with the Kenosha County Health Department in a “Get the Word Out” campaign for the H1N1 flu season. Students from Harborside Academy were responsible for the development of door hangers, posters, table tents, and a public service announcement that played at Tinseltown during flu season (2008-09) academic year. Diana Andrekus (DHS representative) asked if I would sit on a Healthy Youth Kenosha County Coalition, and I accepted. Then, in June of last year, she contacted me to ask if I was interested in applying for a grant that was running from the DHS – Nutrition Physical Activity and Obesity grant. Diana was aware of the garden and was supportive, and knowing Harborside, she felt we would be successful.
KenoWi.com: Can you tell me a little about its current activities and how it fits into Harborside or other schools’ curriculums?
Mary S. Bohning: Currently, we have the 13 beds at XTEN, access to Hansen’s Gardens Greenhouse (generously offered for our use), the eight beds at EBSOLA, and the four beds at KTEC. The gardens fit into KUSD – Harborside’s 11th grade ecology/environmental science curriculum, health curriculum(nutrition and physical activity), Physical Education curriculum (nutrition and physical activity), and the Foss kit elementary education science curriculum.
KenoWi.com: Can you tell me a little about its future goals?
Mary S. Bohning: Future goals are to expand during the 2011-2012 school year to Frank, Wilson and Dimensions of Learning Schools in KUSD. It is our goal to have a garden at every school within the next five years.
At about 2:50 p.m., Pleasant Prairie Rescue is responding to Prairie Lane School, 10717 47th Ave., Pleasant Prairie.
Dispatch reports that patient was a man who was a guest speaker at the school who passed out.
A motion was made to reject the administration’s recommendation, but it failed for lack of a second. Another motion was made by board member Jo Ann Taube to accept the administration’s recommendation, and it was approved by a vote of 6 to 1, with board member Carl Bryan the sole dissenting vote.
Before the vote, board members raised questions and discussed other options.
Board member David Gallo said: “This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make. We have a responsibility to students and teachers, and also to the taxpayers. We need to save $5.9 million. What can we do? My wife is a teacher. I’ve got two kids in charter schools. What is the best scenario? The best is what’s on the table today. We will keep on improving.”
Nuzzo said, “I learned a lesson in life, and that is that life is not fair.”
Currently students must earn 26 high school credits to graduate and complete four credits in the academic areas of English, math, science and social studies. The new standard is 23 credits including four English, three Math, three Social Studies and three Science credits. Students earning a diploma with honors distinction would be required to complete 4 credits of advanced placement courses during their sophomore, junior and senior year. Maximum credit attainment will be 28.
The budget passed unanimously. However, it could change. “We don’t have to make decisions until the levy is passed in September/October,” School Board President Mary Snyder said. At this point, the district is working with $557 less per student, and with 23,000+ students in the district, resulting in an unprecedented cut in funding. Snyder urged the public to do their research and come to meetings.
People certainly did come to Tuesday’s meeting.
An administration proposal to reduce the number of credits needed for high school graduation in the Kenosha Unified School District was discussed in a marathon set of meetings Tuesday night.
And yet there will be more discussion of the proposal, which is being raised as a way to address the funding shortfalls the district is anticipating due to changes in the state budget. On Wednesday, April 20, a special School Board budget meeting will be held. After that meeting, committee members will be presented with information on the financial impact of the changes. They will then be able to discuss and ask questions and make their recommendation to the full board to go forward or go back to the drawing board. The regular Board Meeting will then take place on Tuesday, April 26.
Currently students must earn 26 high school credits to graduate and complete four credits in the academic areas of English, math, science and social studies, according to a statement by superintendent Michelle Hancock included with the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. The new recommendation is 23 credits including four English, three Math, three Social Studies and three Science credits. Students earning a diploma with honors distinction would be required to complete 4 credits of advanced placement courses during their sophomore, junior and senior year.
At a little before 9 p.m., with 9 of 83 polls reporting, Kenosha Unified School Board results are Jo Ann Taube 1334, Robert Nuzzo 1241, Tamara Coleman 952, Todd Jacobs 931.
The top two vote getters will get seats on the board.
UPDATE 9:36 p.m. — Possibly still incomplete results show the same finishing order as above.