Full Slate for New Board Members

Full Slate for New Board Members
Posted on 04/14/2016

On Tuesday, April 5, school district voters elected John Sobota and Penny Burstad to the Board of Education in the School District of the Menomonie Area.  Sobota and Burstad will be joining incumbents Jay Fahl and David Styer, who were re-elected this year, as well as other returning school board members Tammy Schneider, Jeff Jaeger, Urs Haltinner, Jim Swanson and Amy Riddle-Swanson.  Outgoing school board members Jessica Bryan and Christopher Smith did not seek re-election and are thanked for their service on the school board.

It is no easy task serving on a board, especially a board that oversees the kindergarten through high school education of nearly 3,300 children, but having board members govern and help determine the shared vision for the school district is a critical component to the success of our schools.  This past week, John Sobota and Penny Burstad met with school district leaders to become orientated with the many important duties of a school board member and to get up-to-speed with several of the immediate and longer-term issues facing the school district. 

Over the next several weeks, our school board members will be making decisions related to:

  • The reorganization of the board.  Board officers, including this new board’s chairperson will be selected on Monday, April 25.

  • Staffing for 2016-2017.  Returning teacher contracts will be issued and more teachers will be hired to fill vacancies as staffing plans are finalized for next year.

  • Employee Compensation.  Before contracts are issued, the board will most likely take action on employee compensation for next year.  It is expected that all employee groups in the school district will receive a 1.58% wage increase for 2016-2017.

  • Employee Handbook.  The district’s review of employment policies is ongoing.  Board members will likely consider updates and changes before the new school district fiscal year starts on July 1.

  • Preliminary Budget.  The board reviewed a preliminary budget estimate earlier this year, but the preliminary budget for 2016-2017 will be reviewed in more detail this summer and prepared for consideration at the annual meeting.

  • Sports Complex.  Board members will need to decide which bids to accept for the Menomonie High School Sports Complex.  Nearly $1 million has been raised by the school district and community, so work is expected to begin this spring.

Some of the longer-range items that school board members will be considering include:

  • 1:1 technology.  In alignment with the strategic plan that was developed by school district and community stakeholders, it is expected that in 2017-2018, every 6-12 grade student in our school district will receive a school-issued computing device.  This will require much planning in the areas of budgeting, policy adoption, professional development and staffing.

  • Budget.  In addition to participating in the annual meeting in August, and setting the tax levy in October, school board members will need to consider how potential changes with the next state biennial budget in 2017 will impact school funding and our operations moving forward.

  • Enrollment.  Community demographic trends, open enrollment, youth options, and online learning opportunities all impact school district enrollment.  Not only does enrollment have a major impact on the school district budget, but programming, transportation, and elementary school attendance boundaries are just a few of the other issues that changing enrollment can impact.

As you can see, our new and returning school board members have many important decisions facing them in the near future.  While school board members can serve as a sounding board for community input and concerns, their primary role has more to due with governance through establishing a vision, setting policy and hiring staff.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and discuss school issues with the school board members representing our school district, but please realize that most issues or concerns should be directed to school district administration and staff who are employed to operate the school district.  By working together, we can accomplish our mission to prepare ALL students to be lifelong learners, caring individuals and responsible citizens.

Should school stakeholders have any questions about school board business or anything else regarding our school district, I invite you to visit the Administrative Service Center or contact me at 715-232-1642.  More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (www.sdmaonline.com) and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/sdmaonline).