RIVER VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Regular Meeting
Middle School Gymnasium
7:30 p.m.

Board Members present: Anderson, Nelson, Pitts, Peach (left at 11:25 p.m.), Pronold, Taylor, Caraway, Limmex, Roske
Board Members absent:  N/A
Administrators present:  Benson (left at 11:35 p.m.), Mahoney, Hoffman, Kaukl, Palm-Leis, Briehl, Richardson
Others: Jason Hollenberger, Leah Hargraves, Todd Miller, Terry Severson, Ron Fruit, Joan Killian Ikeler, Andy Ringelstetter, Eric Johnson, Bev Pretsch, Lisa Bowen, Tootie Pulvermacher, Erica Walter, Cheryl Crook, Bev
Smigielski, Jamie Haas, Jean Alt, Pat Ederer, Nick Ehlinger, Gary Baxter, James Thering, Shari Graffunder, Karen Steindorf, Barb Baxter, Sue Tatar, Sheila Pulvermacher, Kim Ewers, David Wade, Jamie Licht, Tammy Shaffer, Rose Ellen Schneider, Sue Quale, Jennifer Kraemer, Bill Kraemer, Peter de Waard, Rich Schoenberg, Thomas Wermuth, Don Greenwood, Joseph Jennings, Andrea Jennings, Mary Lurvey, James Radtke, Rob Kleinschmidt, Sue Gereau, Bridget Roberts, Susan Kilmer, Laura Waldsmith, Sue Sadler, Paul Cummings, Herman Kaldenberg, Michael Whaley, Jeanne Tremelling, Derek Miller, Ann Bullock, Everett Bullock, Sue Heiser, Jan Anderson, Brenda Bindl, Mary D’Alton, Ron Troxel, Al Ikeler, Warren Hoyer, Don Tankel, Cora Dillin, Paula Wedige (Administrative Assistant), David Giffey (Home News)

Anderson opened the meeting.  He noted that there was an amended agenda and the meeting had been properly noticed and notice had been provided to the appropriate media and each School Board Member.  Pitts moved to proceed with the legal meeting.  Roske seconded.  Motion carried.

Board Training Opportunities
Nelson reported that there will likely be upcoming training sessions offered by WASB for new Board members, if any, when they take office at the end of April. 

Student Council Report
No discussion.

Information Update Related to Private Donations and School Fees
Mahohey stated that there have been several questions regarding donations to the district as a result of budget cut discussions.  He described Fund 21, which was set up by the DPI beginning with the 2003-04 school year, which allows for private organizations and individuals to make donations to districts to be used strictly for operating expenses.  Fund 21 allows money to be carried over into the following school year without an impact on state aid.  Donations must be presented to the School Board for action at a School Board meeting.  An IRS ruling clarified that private donations to a tax exempt organization can be filed as a tax write-off.

Budget Committee Update
Mahoney noted that the Committee met for the second time to address next year’s budget.  The first draft of the 2004-05 budget showed a deficit of $626,000 instead of the earlier projection of $627,000.

Board Discussion of 2004-05 and 2005-06 Budget Cuts
Anderson stated that tonight’s discussion would focus on the document which shows the Board’s consolidated response to the administration’s March 1 recommendation for 2004-05 budget cuts.  Benson noted that the administration has provided the Board with a March 11 revision to that earlier recommendation.  He explained that revisions were made largely due to community input (Board meeting discussion, e-mails, phone calls, conversations) and that these revisions were made without  knowing the results of the Board’s consolidated response to the March 1 recommendation.  Benson noted that in comparing the two documents, there are many items which show Board and administrative agreement.

Items #1-3 – Administration:
March 1 Administrative Recommendation:  No cuts were recommended.

Board’s Consolidated Response:  No cuts were recommended.

Items #5-8 – Extra Curricular:
March 1 Administrative Recommendation:
  Cut co-curricular (non-athletic) programs, middle school and 9th grade athletics, and the late bus service for after-school programs. 

Board’s Consolidated Response:  8-1 to maintain co-curricular programs, 5-4 to maintain middle school and 9th grade athletics, and 8-1 to cut the late bus service.  The Board recommends charging fees to fund co-curricular programs and middle school and 9th grade athletics.

March 11 Administrative Revised Recommendation:  Maintain co-curricular (non-athletic) programs and middle school and 9th grade athletics.  The administration recommends charging fees to fund co-curricular programs and middle school and 9th grade athletics.

It was noted that the average cost to fund athletics without any district support would be $400 per participant.  At the middle school level alone, it would be $180 per participant.  The average cost to a participant for co-curricular programs is $45, excluding the musical since costs are covered through audience admission fees.  Taylor feels there are opportunities in the athletic program to create additional revenues through user fees for tournaments or to save money by reducing that budget, such as reducing the number of tournaments.  Mahoney noted that the Budget Committee could discuss these ideas.  The idea was proposed that the Booster Club could possibly help pay fees for students that couldn’t afford to pay or that a family maximum payment could be established.

The concern was raised of whether families would use open enrollment to attend another district if fees were set too high.  Michael Whaley noted his preference to not charge fees for “co-curricular” programs, which he feels are related to the primary business of school, unlike “extra-curricular” programs.

Mahoney noted that we have recently reduced 8 late bus routes down to 6 with a sign-up feature each day.  It was noted that the late bus service is a rare commodity in other districts.  Mahoney noted that the average rider cost in 2002-03 to cover late bus service expenses would have been $5.00 per night.

Items #10-16 - Support Staff:
March 1 Administrative Recommendation:  Cut a portion of the technology budget, a middle school teacher assistant (50%), a high school study hall supervisor, a middle school part time assistant (20%), and a day custodian.

Board’s Consolidated Response:  7-2 to cut a portion of the technology budget, 4 in favor of cutting a secretary (100%) although not recommended by administration, 6-3 to cut a middle school teacher assistant (50%), 8-1 to cut a high school study hall supervisor, 6-3 to cut a middle school part time assistant (20%), 1 in favor of cutting an EEN teacher assistant although not recommended by administration, and 8-1 to cut a day custodian.

March 11 Administrative Revised Recommendation:  Cut a secretary (100%).

Taylor asked why the administration did not recommend cutting the EEN teacher assistant.  Benson noted that with the number of elementary LD students, the administration recommended a cut to an elementary EEN teacher, leaving two elementary EEN teachers (one at Spring Green Elementary and one to travel between Lone Rock, Arena, and Plain) and to maintain one EEN teacher assistant at each elementary.  However, the potential to cut an EEN teacher assistant is still an option for the future and is not subject to the April 20 layoff notice deadline.

Items #18-35 – Teaching/Instruction:
March 1 Administrative Recommendation:  Cut an elementary EEN teacher, a middle school foreign language teacher (50%), a French teacher (40%), a high school English teacher (50%), a 3rd grade teacher, an elementary librarian, and an agriculture teacher (20%). 

Board’s Consolidated Response:  5-4 to cut an elementary EEN teacher, 5-4 (after a correction) to maintain middle school foreign language teacher (50%), 6-3 to maintain a French teacher (40%), 6-3 to cut a high school English teacher (50%), 5-4 to cut a 3rd grade teacher, 1 in favor of cutting a phy. ed. teacher (50%) although not recommended by administration, 5-4 to cut an elementary librarian, and 6-3 to maintain an agriculture teacher (20%).

March 11 Administrative Revised Recommendation:  Maintain French teacher (40%) and maintain 3rd grade teacher.

Benson stated that while there is the recommendation to cut an elementary EEN teacher, there is a high school EEN teacher who is resigning, which presents the option to fill this vacancy through a transfer and there would not be a layoff within the special ed. department.

It was clarified that the reduction of the middle school foreign language teacher was for 6th grade only (Flex) where the curriculum focuses more on cultures and not as much on teaching a foreign language.  It was suggested that the teaching of cultural-based curriculum may be able to take place in another curricular area. 

Taylor noted her concern with cutting the elementary librarian position.  Richardson noted that there is currently a librarian aide at all four elementaries and that library skills are duplicated now in classroom curriculums.  Also, the current elementary computer skills teacher will provide library skills services.

Kaukl noted that the recommendation by administration for the agriculture teacher is to merge and create one curriculum for the horticulture and greenhouse courses, which would amount to 5 classes and 1 prep hour for the agriculture teacher.

Items #37-41 – Auxiliary:
March 1 Administrative Recommendation:
  Cut the A-Star after school tutor program, one p.m. bus route, the school fair, and a portion of the building budgets.

Board’s Consolidated Response:  5-4 to maintain the A-Star after school tutor program, 2 in favor of cutting Board payment although not recommended by administration, 8-1 to cut one p.m. bus route, 6-3 to maintain the school fair, and 8-1 to cut a portion of the building budgets.

March 11 Administrative Revised Recommendation:  Maintain A-Star after school tutor program and cut an additional bus route (an a.m. route).

Pronold asked if the p.m. bus route affects St. Luke’s.  Mahoney stated that is does and that he recommended to St. Luke’s that their students ride the bus that leaves the Plain Elementary building at approximately 3:05.  He stated that the Department of Public Instruction requires the district to provide transportation for private schools but that we don’t need to coordinate additional bus routes.  Todd Miller suggested that all parents in the district provide transportation for their own children and then the district could make budget cuts in this area.  It was noted that cutting transportation services would mean longer bus routes for students.

Nelson stated that the decision to cut or maintain the school fair needs to be made soon since students are purchasing animals now to be able to participate in the school fair.   Administration clarified that they recommend cutting the funding for the school fair but not cutting the program.  They believe funding would occur through other means. 

Items #43-45 – Revenue:
March 1 Administrative Recommendation:  Implement parking fees at $35 per vehicle, increase athletic fees to $50, and implement co-curricular fees at $50.

Board’s Consolidated Response:  7-2 to implement parking fees at $35, 2 in favor of implementing supplies fees although not recommended by administration, and 8-1 to increase athletic fees to $50 and implement co-curricular fees at $50.

March 11 Administrative Revised Recommendation:  Increase parking fees to $50 per vehicle and charge $50 per sport for athletic fees and $50 annually for any/all co-curricular activities.

There were concerns and questions regarding parking fees, including enforcement, parking on the street in front of homes near the high school, and liability.

There was discussion about the possibility of selling all or a portion of the school forest.  There has been a preliminary review of legal documents for deed restrictions.  It was stated that the sale of property must occur at an annual meeting.  There was discussion about the possibility of using more money out of fund balance than is already earmarked for 2004-05. 

There were questions about why there are so many applications for students to attend other school districts under open enrollment for 2004-05.  Benson stated that while we have not surveyed all families, he has talked to some who have concerns about academics and extra-curricular programs being cut.  When asked if the Booster Club could provide additional funding to support programs, Booster Club representative Eric Johnson noted that the club’s main focus is to support athletics, FFA, and VICA and that they will do everything they can to help fund these high school activities.

Miller asked if anyone on the Board or administration has filed open enrollment for their children.  Benson noted that he finds the question to be personal and inappropriate in this Board meeting setting but responded that he has filed open enrollment to protect his children in the event budget cuts are harmful to them.  Benson added that he has no intention of sending his children anywhere else and that he uses a father/parent eye when developing budget cut proposals for the Board.  Kaukl stated that he filed open enrollment applications for his family since the February deadline occurred prior to knowing the future status of the district.

Dave Roeder asked about the possibility of renegotiating the benefit package for district employees.  Benson noted that all staff have moved from the indemnity plan with WEA Insurance to a “Point of Service” plan.  Staff now pay higher prescription drug co-payments and are limited to certain doctors, unless the staff member pays a higher co-payment and deductible amount.  The district saved $50,000 on retiree costs by making this change in insurance.  However, because of the QEO law which requires a minimum 3.8% salary and benefit package for teachers, the money saved by this insurance change was paid out to teachers in salary.  Any future savings in less costly health insurance may result in no district savings under the QEO law.

There was a short recess from 11:04 p.m. to 11:13 p.m. 

Consent Agenda:  Checks, Invoices, Receipts – February 2004; Open Session Meeting Minutes – February 19, 2004, and March 1, 2004
Roske moved to approve the consent agenda items without the open session meeting minutes, which were not available.  Taylor seconded.  Motion carried.

Consideration & Action on CESA #3 Services Contract
No action was taken pending further information from CESA #3.

Consideration & Action on Resolution Accepting Gifts
Pitts moved to adopt the Resolution Accepting Gifts of a $500 check from Todd Miller to Fund 21 to cover operating expenses.  Peach seconded.  Pronold asked how this donation was different from an earlier donation from Herman Kaldenberg that was not accepted by the Board.  Anderson noted that the Kaldenberg donation was offered with the idea of an alternative funding mechanism to the referendum.  Polled vote was 9-0 in the affirmative.  Motion carried.

Consideration & Action on 2004-05 Budget Cuts
No action was taken.

Consideration & Action on Special Meeting Date - March 29, 2004
Taylor moved to set a special meeting for 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 29, in the Middle School Library.  Peach seconded.  The April 8 regular meeting date was changed to April 15.  It was noted that the Budget Committee would also meet on April 15 at 6:30 p.m.  Motion carried.

Consideration & Action to Adjourn to Closed Session Pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes 19.85(1)(c) for 2003-05 RVEST Collective Bargaining Update and Discussion of Administrator Evaluations and Contracts
Pronold moved to adjourn to closed session at 11:25 p.m. pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes 19.85(1)(c) for

2003-05 RVEST collective bargaining update and discussion of administrator evaluations and contracts.  Taylor seconded.  Polled vote was 9-0 in the affirmative.  Motion carried.

Peach left the meeting at 11:25 p.m.  The Board reconvened in open session at 11:47 p.m.

Consideration & Action on Ratification of 2003-05 RVEST Negotiated Agreement
Caraway moved to ratify the 2003-05 RVEST Negotiated Agreement.  Roske seconded.  Motion carried.

Taylor moved to adjourn at 11:48 p.m.  Roske seconded.  Motion carried.

Submitted by Paula Wedige For Deborah Nelson, School District Clerk

03/10/08 pw