On the market for several years, the former Lucas Elementary School was finally sold last month for $125,000. The new owner plans to open a woodworking and cabinetry business on the site that was most recently home to the Lucas Charter High School.
District Administrator Chris Stratton explained that the sale depended on a number of zoning changes with the Town of Lucas, some of which had to be dealt with at the county level.
On Monday night, the Menomonie School Board learned that the district netted proceeds of $118,877. Since the money is one-time as opposed to ongoing revenue, Stratton recommended against using it to increase staffing. She shared some suggestions for how to spend the windfall.
While the money could be added to the fund balance, Stratton pointed out that the district’s rainy day account is in good shape at 16.4 percent.
“We’re in a unique situation,” she said. “If the board thought it appropriate, we would use that money not on staffing ... but on some additional professional development with our staff as well as some resources and capital equipment that are needed in some of those program areas.”
To replace funding that was lost due to federal sequestration, Stratton suggested that $24,000 to to Title I and $50,900 to special education funding. The remaining $44,000 would be used for professional development, specifically in the area of personalized education that uses one-to-one technology to allow students to move ahead at their own pace.
“In order to do that, we would also do some additional technology acquisitions ... and technology integration,” Stratton explained. “We would reopen the process for buildings and teachers to develop innovative proposals to be integrated into their classrooms.”
School Board Member Tammy Schneider said she wanted to make sure that all students would benefit, not just those in special area. “We need to be fair here with all kids,” she said.
Stratton responded that with the exception of the high school, all the district’s schools are Title I projects. “When you spend money in those buildings, you can actually use that money to address needs of all children, but with a laserlike focus on the needs of the children that fall in those areas that are showing the biggest gaps,” she said. “All of the teachers can receive the training, not just the teachers of certain children ... all will benefit.”
The revenue from the sale of the school building will be built into the 2013-14 budget which is still in the process of being finalized.
Good report card
The district’s Student Achievement Report from the state’s Department of Public Instruction revealed that at an overall ranking of 71.9, expectations are being met. In fact, at Downsville (75.2), River Heights (73.5), and Knapp (78.9) elementary schools, the state’s accountability score was exceeded.
To be considered as meeting the state’s expectations, a school must score between 63 and 72.9. Oaklawn (70.8) and Wakanda (71.1) ranked close to the top, as did the middle school and high school at 70.6.
Last year, 160 Menomonie High School students took the ACT. Their average score was 22.1 which matches the state average.
Enrollment, new teacher
The school board learned that student enrollment in the district stands at 3,311 — 1,662 in grades 4K-five, 672 at the middle school, and 977 at the high school. Enrollment is up slightly at the elementary level, down a bit at the middle and high school. Twelve fewer students open enrolled out of the district this year.
Eleven new students with special needs moved into the Wakanda Elementary School area, many of them just before the start of the school year. The number is too high for the two current special education teachers to handle. The school board approved hiring a third special ed teacher as a long-term substitute until December at which time a permanent hire will be made.