Bergman approved as new school district administrator


The Owen-Withee School Board held their regular monthly meeting on Monday, March 18. FBLA officers Paris Ackerman and Jack Wendler gave a presentation on FBLA’s activities. They thanked the board for their support. They currently have 72 members. Some of their activities that were highlighted were a movie night during Homecoming Week, officer training, business partnerships, their fundraisers, public relations efforts, and community service. They also mentioned awards they have won, including placing fifth at the Region 2 Leadership Conference and being a Gold Seal Chapter. They said that everyone is recognized at least once per year. They came in first of 53 teams in the Junior Achievement Titan Challenge. They have 25 members going to state this year.
Randy Bergman was approved as the new Owen-Withee School District Administrator beginning July 1, 2024. He has taught at a couple of schools in Taylor County and is currently the District Administrator and Pre-K/4 Elementary Principal at Prentice.
The board approved the Pupil Nondiscrimination Report that was put together by District Administrator Scott Winch and Director of Pupil Services Kristi Ruggles. This is a self-evaluation report that looks at such things as board policy, enrollment trends, teaching methods, discipline, student participation in extracurricular activities, scholarships, and technology. In addition to looking at trends and findings, it makes recommendations for how the district can improve on what they are doing. The report is available to residents who wish to view it.
Elementary Principal Julie VanArk gave the AGR (Achievement Gap Reduction) report, which looks at the data for reading and math in the lower elementary. She said that they are heading in the right direction. For reading, 14 of 30 kindergarten students, 13 of 27 first grade students, 21 of 39 second grade students, and 10 of 23 third grade students have reached the goal for this year. For math, 22 of 30 kindergarten students, 18 of 27 first grade students, 29 of 37 second grade students, and 15 of 32 third grade students have reached the goal for this year. Board member Julie Wendler asked what happens if students don’t meet the goal, are they retained. VanArk said retention isn’t supported past kindergarten both because of social issues and some students won’t graduate because of turning 18 and dropping out. The scores are lower in the third grade due to a number of special education and English as a Second Language students. They continue to try additional interventions for students who are not going to make it to the goal. VanArk said that phonics is helping with reading scores.
District Administrator Winch provided some data to the board about the referendum and their loan defeasance. He made his estimates based on a 3 percent increase in valuation per year and a stable student enrollment. He said that the defeasance is on schedule to do both payments in June. This removes approximately three years of loan payments and has a projected impact on state aids of $98,513. This involves the setting aside of funds to pay off loans early.
An Open House is being planned so that residents can be trained in the use of the equipment in the Fitness Center. Coaches and students will be on hand to help with the training. Key fobs will be available at the event for a cost of $10. This will be the only charge for residents to use the facility. Administration is working on the agreement that will be signed by anyone wishing to use the Fitness Center. The board asked if there would be a minimum age required for use so that young kids wouldn’t be running around while parents were exercising; it was pointed out that this was not a daycare. It will be monitored with cameras. It might also be possible to have paid supervisors on site during certain periods. It was also asked if some type of background checks were going to be done. The agreement will be looked at when the board meets in April. The bathrooms are not finished yet, but they will try to get that done before the facility opens to the public. Board member Dean Schmelzer asked if the fob could be programmed so people could also get into the Forward Center. Winch said he thinks they should wait until someone asks to use it. It would be easy enough to give their fob access for the time they are signed up to use the Forward Center. Board member Todd Nelson also asked about this and would like to discuss it further at another meeting. The need for a schedule was mentioned so that people would know when the Forward Center was being used. It was felt that information could be added to the school activities calendar.
Under Administrator Reports, Elementary Principal Julie VanArk said that Child Development Day was well attended. They screened 26 kids that night and have done five more since then. The PLC (Professional Learning Community) team has started a book study that they are finding informative. Students will get an extra recess with members of the high school sports teams as an incentive this spring. Grandparents Day is coming up. Owen-Withee is on track or ahead in the process to meet Act 20 requirements for training in teaching reading in comparison to other CESA 10 schools.
Middle/High School Principal Nate Johnson congratulated both the boys and girls basketball teams. He said that spring sports have started. There will be no varsity baseball team this year, but those waiting to play baseball will join with Thorp to play JV games. On the day juniors took the ACT exam, freshman and sophomores went to CVTC and the seniors went on their class trip. Prom is April 13 at Munson Bridge Winery. The next incentive planned for the middle school is a trip to Valley Fair.
District Administrator Scott Winch said he has had some informal conversations about the mural that Larry Herington and Kris Karaba would like to put on the Forward Center. Buildings and Grounds will need to meet soon to discuss summers projects. There are no retirements so far this year. The years of service/staff recognition will be held the last day of school after students leave.
The board met in closed session for about 10 minutes to discuss a student discipline issue. Nothing was announced in open.