Baraboo school officials say they want to fully staff the district’s family and consumer science program following a teacher’s retirement, but they expect it will be difficult to find a replacement.
The concern led to discussion about whether the district should even seek applicants to replace Dawn Leaver when she retires this spring after 34 years in Baraboo schools.
Former Baraboo family and consumer science teacher Jeanne Marking, who spent 40 years in the district, encouraged the board to fully staff the program.
“It is a passion of mine that we continue that program,” she said. Marking reminded the board its mission statement includes meeting the needs of all students.
“Our program in family and consumer education does that,” she said.
Family and consumer science teacher Sue Strutz said the program’s staff believed it was important to fill the position. “Our numbers for next year indicate that we have enough enrollment for three teachers,” she said.
Baraboo High School Principal Glen Bildsten said interest in the program remains high.
“Roughly 700 students have consistently taken the classes over the past few years,” Bildsten said. “If we don’t fill position, there would be a certain number of classes that would not be able to run next year.”
However, board member Doug Mering cautioned the district has had trouble hiring for a family and consumer science position in the past.
“We went through this process and it is very difficult to find them,” he said. “We can say we want them, but if they’re not there, they’re not there.”
Mering said he was concerned about making accommodations in the building and with staff to have a person possibly leave within a year.
Strutz acknowledged it can be difficult to find qualified teachers in the field. She said only the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and UW-Stout offer such certifications.
“Madison discontinued their program years ago and the number of people going into the field is limited,” she said.
Baraboo School District Administrator Lori Mueller said she opened a conversation with Madison College about tapping into its instructors if a certified teacher could not be found.
She said CESA 5 also contacted the district to ask if Baraboo schools might participate in a consortium to share instructors.
“What CESA will do is hire person and parcel out times,” she said. “For family and consumer science, we would need a significant chunk.”