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School Board 1

Members of the school board listen to principals from each school in the district discuss the district wide report cards.

The School District of Wisconsin Dells will provide no new open enrollment seats for the 2019-2020 school year at the high school level.

The decision to place a moratorium on open enrollment seats at the Nov. 26 school board meeting comes after the district pushed for the passage of a new high school referendum based in part on the overcrowding of the current high school. The high school is projected to be over capacity for the 9-12 grade levels without any additional students enrolling through open enrollment.

“The building only holds 460 (students)” said Jesse Weaver, school board member. “We can’t come back two months later (after the referendum) and offer open enrollment seats.”

District Administrator Terry Slack said the district is expecting open enrollment requests to increase with the new school. He believes students who have enrolled in neighboring districts will return to the district with the referendum passing.

The district has not announced plans for open enrollment for the lower grades for the 2018-2019 school year. Open enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year, the year the new high school is scheduled to open, will be discussed during the 2018-2019 school year.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Attendance at parent/teacher conferences for 8th grade students was above average after the district implemented a program piloted by the 6th and 7th grade students. The program uses a student led model for parent/teacher conferences, rather than staff led.

Hugh Gaston, Wisconsin Dells High School Principal, said the pilot program, which was attempted during the previous school year at Spring Hill, can be credited with “incredibly positive” results in attendance at the 8th grade level.

“(Previously) the percentage of attendees typically hovered in the 15-20 percent range overall,” Gaston said.

Scheduled conferences this year were attended at about a 94 percent rate, with 89 out of 95 scheduled conferences held. Overall, about 62 percent of students had a parent/teacher conference, with 89 out of 144 conferences held.

Gaston said he is considering implementing the student led model at the high school level.

District Wide DPI Report Cards

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released their report cards for the School District of Wisconsin Dells, and the district is meeting expectations according to the DPI. Four of the five schools are meeting, exceeding, or significantly exceeding expectations, while one school meets few expectations.

Spring Hill Elementary is categorized as meeting few expectations, with a score of 62.2 out of 100. The range for meeting few expectations is a score of 53-62.9.

Despite scoring below the state average in each of the categories graded by the DPI, the school experienced a more than 10 point positive change in the report card compared to the previous year, and as such is listed as an outlier by the DPI.

“The school doubled its growth rate in math, and came close to that in ELA (English Language Arts),” said Spring Hill Elementary School Principal Julie Ennis.

Spring Hill Elementary School moved from a rating of fails to meet expectations in the 2016-2017 school year to the current rating of meets few expectations while increasing its score from 47.8 to 62.2. The school was .8 points from reaching the meets expectations category.

Neenah Creek Elementary School was also an outlier according to the DPI report, jumping from a grade of meets few expectations with a score of 58.1 during the 2016-2017 school year to a current grade of exceeding expectations with a score of 76.7.

Each of the other schools in the district maintained their current ratings. Wisconsin Dells High School increased its score from 63.8 to 65.4 at the meets expectations level, Spring Hill Middle School fell from a 77.7 score to a 74.8 score at the exceeds expectations level, and Lake Delton Elementary School fell one point from 86.2 to 85.2 at the significantly exceeds expectations level.

The district as a whole maintained its rating of meets expectations, raising its score from 66.6 to 70.1.

According to Slack, the districts ELA scores dropped by 15.5 points but overall math scores increased by 57.5 points under the DPI system. The district also experienced “a huge increase” in the District Growth and Closing Gaps subcategory.

“There are several areas to celebrate… (and) I’m proud of the district,” Slack said. “Most of the glass is full… but we have to look at both sides of the equation, and there are definitely things we can do better.”

Other Business

  • In other business before the school board, the board approved:
  • A contract for Zachariah Alwin as 8th grade Spring Hill Middle School Girls Head Basketball Coach
  • A contract for Chelsea Gleiss as 7th grade Spring Hill Middle School Girls Head Basketball Coach
  • A contract for Kit Conrad as volunteer High School Wrestling Coach
  • A contract for Ashleigh Ziehmke and Alexandra Fults as Wisconsin Dells High School Co-Head Dance Coaches with 50/50 split contracts
  • Gifts totaling $2,031 dollars in cash and merchandise, including $500 from the Wilderness Resort to the high school student council for homecoming shirts, and $500 each to both the boys and girls high school golf activities account from the Wild Rock Golf Club

Reach Christopher Jardine on Twitter @ChrisJJardine or contact him at 608-432-6591.


Wisconsin Dells Events reporter