May 25, 2018: May School Board

Hello, Black River Falls Community!  This is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools.  This week I’m going to give you a brief summary of the decisions and discussions that took place at the monthly school board meeting held on Monday, May 21.


The board extended a commendation to Vanessa Mortenson, who works at the Jackson County Courthouse and is instrumental in coordinating Student Government Day. Our high school social studies classes always learn a great deal about the inner workings of county government and get to meet the local officials that make it all happen!


The board accepted $20,078 worth of grant projects from the Educational Enrichment Fund.  If you are not familiar with this group, it is an outstanding group of community members that work to raise funds so that they can provide easy grant opportunities to the staff throughout the district.  This group works under the umbrella of the Black River Falls Area Foundation and has received generous donations from alumni around the country. It is yet another example of the generosity of our local community!


Mr. Roou shared the outcomes of the MS Continuous Improvement Plan as well as previewed what goals and action plans were in place for the coming year!


Vicki Michalski is the district social worker.  She shared some positive news in her year-end report.  First, we had fewer students homeless in the past year, we had fewer students in the deferred expulsion program for drug and alcohol-related offenses, and those in the program are successfully completing it at a higher rate.  We’ve also been able to be more aggressive with our truancy efforts. At a bare minimum, we need the kids to attend school if we are to help them grow!

Mary Byrns, our HS Tech Integration Coach and Virtual School Coordinator, also shared the increased success of the students in our virtual classes.  A total of 84 virtual courses were taken throughout the year with 84% of those courses successfully completed with an A or a B grade. This is a fantastic vehicle to broaden the opportunities of possible courses for our students. There’s no way we could hire enough staff to teach in all of these areas of interest, so providing this opportunity has been a great affordable option to allow kids to follow their areas of interest!


The Board approved the Upper 90 Energy Efficiency Project.  The largest portion of the project is updating the lighting throughout all of the buildings to LED lighting.  Red Creek Elementary is the only building currently with 100% LED lights. The project will be funded through fund balance, thus eliminating any interest costs from borrowing.  The lighting portion qualifies for several rebate programs and has a total payback time of 3.5 years when we also consider the energy savings! This feels like a responsible way to manage our utility costs over the long run, and a 3.5-year payback makes it an easy decision! The work will be done primarily this summer with some overflow of non-school buildings into the fall.


Finally, we are extremely proud that the School District of Black River Falls has been asked to host the Wisconsin American Indian Studies Summer Institute this summer.  It will be held in late July/early August and school staff from around the state will be in attendance, along with many of our own staff members who will be both attending and presenting.  We are looked at as a leader in the state when it comes to our integration of culturally responsive teaching practices as well as trauma-informed practices and integration of Native American culture into many areas of the curriculum.  We look forward to learning from others and sharing the great work we do locally!


One sports-related note...next week Tuesday our Tiger Boys Golf Team will be competing at sectionals as a full team!  They will be golfing at the Inshalla Country Club in Tomahawk. Good luck to our boys on the links!


As always, thank you for your support of the School District of Black River Falls.  If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me!  Let’s show our Tiger Pride in all that we do!


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