School board makes changes to school fair, flip flops on high school yearbook

Taylor Scott, Managing Editor

River Valley School District Office

The River Valley School Board met May 13, welcoming a new member, took up changes to the school fair, the high school year book and elected officers.

The board welcomed Elisabeth Minich, who is representing Area 5, the Town of Bear Creek, Town of Buena Vista and Town of Ithaca.

District Administrator Loren Glasbrenner gave an operations update. “We’re nearing the end of a really historic year and it’s been exciting to provide new things to our community that we didn’t expect that we would have to provide,” said Glasbrenner. “That’s the nicest way I can say, chaos ensued on some days but we did our very best.”

The board nominated and unanimously approved the follow officers:
President – Kathy Jennings
Vice President – John Bettinger
Clerk – Deb Nelson
Treasurer – Fred Iausly

Jennings noted that no one had approached her about filling the Area 4 vacancy, Village of Lone Rock. Board policy now allows the president to appoint an eligible candidate to fill the seat until April 25, 2022. At the 2022 Spring election, a candidate will be elected to fill the remaining one year of the term, which expires in 2023. Those interested should reach out to Jennings.

The board considered changing the last week of school for the 2020-21 school year. Currently, students are set to attend school Tuesday and Thursday after Memorial Day, with a virtual day Wednesday, and the last day being June 3.

Various members and administrators expressed concern about a potential spike of COVID-19 cases following a holiday, affecting the end of the school year or summer school.

Member Kiley Cates motioned to end the school year on May 31, with Jennings seconding. The vote was 4-4 and the motion failed. School will end June 3.

District Business Manager Brian Krey provided an update on previously discussed Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II and III Funds. The district is looking at receiving $1,851,056 total. The district is considering running next year’s budget as is and applying the ESSER funds to the next two years after to reduce referendum.

The board took up making the 2021-22 School Fair a non-school day and moving the parade back an hour to 3pm.

Glasbrenner said the impetus for the non-school day recommendation was due to liability issues, based on district attorney recommendation.

Not everyone agreed it was the best way to move forward.

“I remember the looks on especially elementary students or even some of the older kids that would come through with their teachers and those are the kids that I looked at that wouldn’t come here with their parents that day. Parents maybe have to work or can’t come. I really remember the looks on those kids faces when they got to pet a calf or they got to touch a chicken or hold a rabbit and I feel bad for those kids,” said Nelson. “I’m not in favor of it is because I feel that there are kids that could really benefit from seeing the things and the activities we do and they are the kids who will not be here because their parents either work or don’t care to come that day.”

Ultimately the recommendation on turning the School Fair day into a non-school day passed, with only Nelson in opposition. A consensus of the board agreed 3 p.m. should be the parade time, asking Glasbrenner to decide.

Due to low enrollment in the senior-only high school yearbook class, the board took up a proposal that yearbook become a co-curricular.

“I think there’s a lot more involved in the yearbook than just doing it as an after school program and I think there’s a lot learned as part of this and credit for it encourages people to be engaged in it, so I see a problem with this,” shared Iausly.

Glasbrenner stated that only one student had expressed interest in being in the class for next year, while High School Principal Darby Blakley shared that due to lack of interest in previous years that the high school didn’t put the class in the scheduler and would have to find a spot for it if the action didn’t go through.

Cates motioned to change yearbook over to a co-curricular, with the hope that it would be revisited next year. The motion failed on a tied 4-4 vote.

The board then quickly discussed moving on or taking it up next meeting after a committee looked into different options.

Glasbrenner stated he’d call the private corporation Jostens to arrange for them to do the yearbook due to lack of enrollment in the class. Glasbrenner’s statement prompted reaction from the board, and Cates, disregarding parliamentary procedure that would usually preclude such a motion, made the same motion a second time, with the motion this time passing 6-2. Yearbook will not be offered as a class for the next school year and will be offered as a co-curricular.

The River Valley School District Endowment Fund completed its annual grant cycle and notified the award winners: a Laser Engraver, $1,720, RVMS, Tim Wunnicke; Development of Frisbee Golf Course, $1,850, RVHS, Lisa Roelke/Jackson Thier (student); Multicultural/Diversity Materials, $3,768, ELC (4K), Rhonda Licht (writer), Elaine Frank, Lisa Miller, Melinda Mohr.

Iausly discussed a future change to the name of the Technology Committee, suggesting “Curriculum and Instruction Committee” would be a more apt name to cover the holistic business the committee takes up.

The board also discussed and approved readings on policy regarding service and other animals on school premises, foreign exchange students, and confidentiality and volunteer forms.

The board took up other action including:

  • Unanimously passed 2021-22 preliminary budget. Final budget will be taken up at annual meeting in October.
  • Unanimously passed 2020-21 Southwest Wisconsin Technical College Transcripted Credit Contract.
  • Unanimously passed 2021-22 SWEEP 1 and SWEEP 2 Cooperative Agreements for Use of Aeration and Top Dresser Equipment.
  • Unanimously passed 2021-24 Contract With Upland Hills for Physical Therapy Services.

The board set the following 2021-22 event dates:

  • Homecoming/School Fair – Friday, September 24, 2021
  • Prom – Saturday, April 23, 2022
  • Scholarship Awards Night – Wednesday, May 18, 2022
  • Baccalaureate – Sunday, May 22, 2022 (tentative-based on request by parents)
  • Seniors Last Day – Thursday, May 26, 2022
  • Graduation – Saturday, May 28, 2022