Unity school board trains for continual improvement

Unity School District Administrator Brandon Robinson.

Childcare center still under study

Mary Stirrat | Staff writer

BALSAM LAKE —Unity School Board of Education President Debbie Ince-Peterson said Tuesday evening after the regular monthly board meeting that learning is important at any stage.

Bob Butler of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards met with the Unity School Board for two hours prior to its Aug. 8 meeting. The training professional development in-service was the kick-off to the board’s study of “The Key Work of Wisconsin School Boards” guidebook.

Her words are being put into action by the school as members pursue professional development designed to help them be more effective in helping students achieve at a high level.

Earlier this May Peterson presented each board member with a copy of “The Key Work of School Boards” guidebook, a publication of the National Association of School Boards.  According to the NASB website, the book identifies “the core skills that effective boards need to ensure that all students achieve at high levels.”

Five key subject areas — vision, accountability, policy, community leadership and board/superintendent relationships — together “form a framework for effective school governance.”

As a kick-off to reading and discussing the book, the board met Tuesday afternoon for a two-hour professional development session with Bob Butler, associate executive director and staff counsel for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

“I think we all got some good information from him,” Peterson said.

Childcare center

 The district’s long range planning and buildings committee continues to research the possibility of a preschool childcare program for district residents.

Committee chairman Ryan Peterson said that the committee has met twice since the July board meeting.  At the second meeting, held Aug. 7, representatives from Kraus Anderson Construction were given some parameters regarding classroom size, potential locations and size limitations, and asked to develop some options.

“We’re still in the development stage,” said district administrator Brandon Robinson, adding that the committee is being “very diligent” and the process will take some time.

Academic career plan

Unity School Board members spent two hours learning the importance and the tools of being more effective in their role of helping students achieve their best. Bob Butler of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, standing, was the presenter for the training. — Photos by Mary Stirrat

As now required by state statute, the board voted to implement an academic career plan developed by high school principal Jason Cress.  According to the statutes, every student in grade 6 through 12 must have access to academic and career planning services beginning with the 2017-18 school year.

At Unitiy, said district administrator Brandon Robinson, several aspects of the plan have been put into place during the past two years, allowing the school to be ahead of the game.

Academic career planning, according to the presentation given by Cress, allows students to “create and cultivate their own information-based visions for post secondary success.”

In elementary school they will focus on career awareness, answering the question, “Who am I?”  Middle schoolers will look at career exploration and the question, “Where do I want to go?”

By high school students will be career planning and determining how to get to where they want to go, and as adults they will prepare to attain their career goal.

Students will be using Career Cruising, an on-line “self-exploration and planning program that helps people of all ages achieve their potential in school, career and life.”  The program includes career profiles, interviews, employment guides and college/financial aid information.

Starting in fifth grade, students will set goals and develop a portfolio.  The process continues with additional steps each year through middle school and all four years of high school.

Other business

 • Board member Jim Beistle noted with sympathy the death of Robert Roettger, former employee of the district.

• Unity’s homecoming, community picnic and the grand opening of the new construction will all be the weekend of Sept. 22.  Tours will be available throughout the weekend, when the district will also commemorate its 60th anniversary.  Sometime over the weekend the time capsule uncovered during the current construction project will be opened and a new one buried.

• Board member Jeromy Cox reported that the audit committee has been working with the St. Croix Valley Foundation to establish an endowed scholarship or educational foundation.  The rate of return would be higher, added district administrator Brandon Robinson, and SCVF will help manage the fund.

• The pool will be closed for maintenance until Tuesday, Sept. 5.  The 250,000-gallon pool will need to be drained, and the Milltown Fire Department will be using it for a training exercise to see how long it would take to drain the water for use in an emergency.