May Richland School Board Meeting

The Richland School Board meeting Monday night began with a moment of silence and reflection for the two high school students who lost their lives and a third who was hospitalized over the weekend in a tragic traffic crash.

District Administrator Jarred Burke said that Monday was a “hard day,” but students and staff made it through. He added that the community and surrounding districts – namely River Valley and Ithaca – were tremendous in offering resources the last few days. Burke thanked everyone who provided support and encouragement in light of a very difficult circumstance.

Among the agenda items facing the school board Monday night was how to move forward with the proposed change to the Summer School Strength & Conditioning class. It was the last piece of the summer school puzzle left undone from the previous board meeting. As presented, the class would be offered for 90 minutes for 38 days in the summer compared to 2 hours per day for 30 days as it’s been in the past. Completion of the course would still earn students .25 PE credits. In addition, a .25 science credit offered in previous years would be eliminated. High School principal Jon Bosworth said the summer school PE has been advantageous for students looking to free up their school year schedule for classes that will be beneficial for their academic goals. He added that the science portion of the class has shown to be a deterrent to students signing up for the course. Board president Paul Corcoran stated his opposition with the course becoming solely a “weightlifting class.” He also raised a concern about offering the course to 7th and 8th grade students – which was also proposed. In the end – with two members absent – the board voted 3-to-2 to accept the changes presented, with Corcoran and Bennie Green voting against.

The Richland School Board had a lengthy discussion on the selection of a financial advisor for the district’s referendum borrowing. Three vendors were solicited for bids but only two submitted proposals: Ehlers and Wisconsin Public Finance Professionals, who the district used in its referendum development. It was explained that both can assist the district with its borrowing process. Despite the recommendation from the administration to go with Carol Wirth with Wisconsin Public Finance Professionals, the board voted 3-to-2 to contract with Ehlers.

District Business Official Kathy Stoltz presented good news regarding the 2016-17 budget outlook. Compared to the budget shortfall of $336,000 in the last projections, Stoltz said the new figures show a $90,000 revenue surplus. That’s largely due to an anticipated payment of $350,000 from the closure of a TIF District in the City of Richland Center. Still, Stoltz advised that the budget process is still early and figures are likely to change. A preliminary budget for district voters to consider at the annual meeting this summer will be brought to the board next month.

In other action from the Richland School Board meeting Monday night, the board entered into lease agreements for Apple iPads for the Richland Middle School and Google Chromebooks for the High School. It was explained that the district would stay with iPads at the Middle School because the students and staff have become familiar with the devices and applications. And despite their higher up-front costs, the iPads held their value longer than the Chromebooks at the end of their life span.

Finally, it was announced that nearly $9,000 has been raised for the RCHS National SeaPerch competition at LSU later this week. The district will look at ways to make up the difference for the estimated $12,000 trip. The board approved a continuation of the Cross Country co-op with Ithaca for next school year. And the board approved a $500 expenditure to join the Wisconsin Rural School Alliance. The organization is headed by Kim Kaukl – a former River Valley High School principal and Richland Center alumnus.