Richland School Board May 15th Meeting

The Richland School Board met Monday evening, May 15th, in the Richland Center High School IMC. District Administrator Jarred Burke reported that there is currently lots of construction going on at Doudna, Jefferson, and the high school.

He alerted anyone arriving at these locations to please adhere to the temporary signage advising people on where to enter. Director of Special Education, Shaun Tjossem reported that the number of students in special education has almost doubled this year and represents 20 percent of the student population in the district.

The Richland School Board continued to weigh staffing ideas in the face of a significant budget shortfall next school year. District Administrator Jarred Burke made the following recommendation on behalf of the administrative team to make the following staffing cuts through attrition, program elimination, and restructuring: the elimination of French programming at the high school and reduction in .5 FTE from Foreign Language programming. In addition, the following staffing cuts: A reorganization of the middle school IMC/IT staff at a savings of $75,000; not filling the middle school sixth grade English teacher position which faces a student count decrease at a savings of $75,000. The current sixth grade teacher would go to eighth grade. Another recommendation would be to decrease the CNA position and have office staff trained to handle more of the medical services, which he says they already handle. This would save $15,000. A fourth recommendation would be to replace the one ESL position which will be opening to half-time at a savings of $35,000. It has also been recommended to make an adjustment in the AGR 1-Teacher at a savings of $75,000. Burke said the district is currently facing a $395,036 budget deficit. By acting on these recommendations the district would save $275,000. He also advised that there may be some additional revenue from city TID district funding in the amount of $50,000 which would bring the deficit down to $70,036.

The first reading of a new policy providing exempt employees and supervisors a retirement benefit which failed on a 3-to-3 tie vote at the last meeting was revisited. The policy would give certain non-teaching positions a retirement benefit if they had served the Richland School District for a continuous period of 25 years or more and were at least 55 years old. The district could limit the number of applicants granted to one per year, and the benefit sum would not exceed $7,000 for five years after retirement. Paul Corcoran, who cast one of the dissenting votes at the last meeting asked that it be brought back to the board for reconsideration. Corcoran motioned and Shari Johnson seconded to reconsider the question. The motion passed on a five to two vote. The motion was then made by Toni McCarville and seconded by Shari Johnson to approve a second reading of the proposed policy at the next school board meeting. That motion passed on a four to three vote.

The board also approved unanimously the replacement of the Jefferson gym ceiling with Extrutech Plastics flat ceiling panels and LED lighting at a cost of $22,197. The cost for this project will come from the maintenance budget. The Buildings, Property and Transportation Committee also recommended an updated fee schedule for the Richland School District Facility Use Form and Recreational Agreement. This raise will bring the district more in-line with other districts. The average raise sought was from $3 to $5 an hour and with some event fees also seeing a rise in cost. The board approved the recommendation unanimously and will take effect July 1st. However, board members also noted that this should be for any new requests.

A request was also made on behalf of the Rockbridge meal site to have the facility fee waived. Currently the revenue from the rental fee goes into Fund 10. The Buildings, Property and Transportation Committee recommended to the board that the Richland School District Facility Use Form and Recreation Agreement be followed. It was moved that the Rockbridge meal site be charged the facility fee which is currently $6 an hour, but would also see the increase as of July 1st. The motion passed 6-1 with Paul Corcoran being the lone nay vote. The board also approved, by the same vote, the upgrade to a new digital sign to replace the current sign on Highway 14 and Hive Drive at a cost of $23,281.37.

The board also approved a three percent increase in health insurance premiums from Wisconsin Counties Association Group Health Trust with five members voting in favor and two abstaining. The approval of a seven percent increase in dental insurance from Delta Dental was passed in a similar fashion with four in favor, one nay, and two abstaining.

In other news from the Richland School Board meeting Monday night, the board approved the donation of socks and snacks from Grand View Family Worship to Jefferson Elementary in the amount of $200. Also approved was a cash donation of $13,500 from the Richland Center High School Athletic Booster Club for the high school Strength and Speed Coordinator, Jeff Mester, Elite Training from June 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018.