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The Spirit of Community Service

Jordyn Schara, right, recieved a silver medallion for winning the Prudential Spirit of Community Award from Bob Applegate of Prudential Insurance at the school board meeting on Monday night.

 

Facing staff reductions brought about by budget cuts, the Reedsburg School District began sending out layoff announcements this week.

Four teachers at the elementary and high-school levels received layoff notices during the School Board meeting on Monday night.

Four-year-old kindergarten teacher Zach Buros, South Elementary School third-grade teacher Thomas Tardiff, Pineview Elementary School math interventionist Kelly Kroon and Reedsburg Area High School family and consumer education teacher Jennifer Traeder received notices that, as things stand now, they will not return to the district next year.

The district was able to save one teaching position at the elementary school libraries through a new health insurance credit that reduces health insurance premiums by about $66,000. However, a teaching position at Webb Middle School is also scheduled to be cut.

The layoffs come as the district attempts to find $1.1 million in budget reductions for the 2012-13 school year to meet state revenue limits.

The district’s transportation director and a secretary at Ironton-LaValle Elementary School will retire at the end of the year and those positions will not be filled. One RAHS teacher also has plans to take a yearlong leave of absence.

The School Board also unanimously approved the proposed list of cuts for the 2012-13 school year, which includes higher health insurance premiums for administrators, custodial staff and non-union support staff; a reduction of $100,000 in the curriculum budget; and a reduction in the number of 4K community classrooms at partner locations.

District Administrator Tom Benson said at the meeting that the cuts have not been made lightly, and that laid-off teachers could be reinstated if enrollment numbers change over the summer. Laid-off teachers were issued an employment contracts before receiving the notices.

“We have a couple grade levels that are within eyeshot of maxing out,” Benson said. “It’s a revolving door here in the summer with people moving in and out, so if we have more move in than out, then we might have to reinstate a teacher.”

School Board President Steve Balda also emphasized that the layoffs and cuts are some of the toughest choices the board has faced throughout the years.

“The Board does recognize that they are quality educators. They didn’t do anything wrong,” Balda said. “This has to do with the budget and we’d love to have them all back if we could.”

Test scores hit goals

Results from the 2011 Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) show that, for the most part, district students have met or exceeded the math and reading scores of their peers statewide.

The WKCE is given to students in grades 3 through 8 and in grade 10 each fall, as part of the federal requirement under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Third-graders across all schools scored 85 percent competence in reading and 84 percent in math, compared to 80 percent and 77 percent, respectively, statewide. Ironton-LaValle Elementary third-graders beat all other schools with 100 percent in reading; Loganville Elementary third graders scored 100 percent in math this year.

Eighth-graders scored high above their peers in reading at 92 percent, as compared to the state mark of 84 percent. Tenth-grade readers also beat the state average by 11 points, achieving 88 percent.

Director of Instruction Linda Bruun said the reading scores often did not beat the Annual Yearly Progress cutoff of 87 percent — but, then again, neither did the state.

Wisconsin is applying for a waiver of No Child Left Behind regulations because the state averages are behind the AYP cutoffs for many grade levels, Bruun said. The changes will mean that schools will be measured on four accountability standards, including dropout rates and test participation, instead of simply test scores.

Awards recognized

Three teachers and one student were recognized for state and national awards at the School Board meeting.

Representatives from Prudential Insurance presented Jordyn Schara with a silver medallion for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.

Schara was one of 100 students selected from across the country to receive the award.

RAHS teacher Katie Marien was recognized for winning the National D.R. Desai K-12 Teaching Award, and Webb Middle School teacher Sandy Lavely was acknowledged for winning the Veterans of Foreign Wars Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Award.

RAHS teacher Christa Moroder won an Emerging Leader Award for her new video production class and for running the RAHS student TV station. She is one of six teachers from across the country to win the award from the International Society for Technology in Education.

Moroder teaches students about all aspects of video broadcasting, from filming to editing to writing for news.

She will be honored at a conference in San Diego on June 24.

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