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Last year, the Chippewa Falls School District wanted to find out what district residents thought of the job it was doing. The district found out, thanks to the recommendations of 140 people who participated in what the district billed as a Community Conversation.

“This is a huge effort to get everyone pointed in the same direction. And it started with you,” Superintendent Brad Saron told approximately 50 people who gathered Tuesday night at the high school for the second Community Conversation.

The School Board incorporated the community’s suggestions in five goals for its 2014-17 strategic plan. The five are: student achievement; service excellence; our people; finance; and operations/growth.

To get a better idea how residents within the district view its public school system in 2015, the district distributed a survey that got 209 responses. In seven categories, the district received high marks.

Those areas included: support of student development of life skills; support of students living a healthy lifestyle; communicatiing well with the community; developing critical thinking and problem solving; encouraging parental involvement; availability of diverse curriculum; and support of students to volunteer.

But that wasn’t as apparent in three categories: connecting the school district with the business community; whether the district provides internships and work-linked learning chances; and whether the district has a schedule and calendar that supports student learning and the expectations of parents.

With the question regarding connections with the business community, 25 percent of respondents were neutral and another 21 percent said they were uncertain. For the intern question, 22 percent were neutral and 40 percent uncertain. And for the calendar question, while 52 percent agreed with what the district was doing, another 22 percent were neutral.

“It’s another area that was great information for us,” Saron said of the responses to the intern question.

One thing the district realized, he said, was that people wanted to know more about schedules.

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“Schedules are a great puzzle,” Saron said.

“We have to have a better way to serve (student) interventions,” he said. There also needs to be time built in so students can concentrate on subjects, such as math.

Saron said that last year parents brought up the possibility of having year-round classes. He said one school in La Crosse switched to that after a three-year process.

Southview Elementary now has air conditioning, he said. “We’re going to formulate the groundwork to try to consider (year-round classes).”

Saron explained that the information from the community continues to guide district decisions. There was a period of time when the school system didn’t have a GPS signal on what district residents wanted from its schools. That’s changed, he said.

“This is going to be an awesome time,” Saron said.

Residents were also updated by Christine McMasters, director of special education and pupil services, on the district’s upcoming Teen Mental Health Summit. It will be held Wednesday, June 10 at the Chippewa Falls Middle School, 750 Tropicana Blvd.

“The teen mental health target audience is anyone who works with teens in our community,” McMasters said.

Topics to be tackled at the summit will include promoting good mental health, reducing mental health stigma, and the crisis response available in Chippewa County.

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(6) comments

SRLaBelle

I love the idea of a year round schedule.
We have all this capital invested in buses, buildings and technology just sitting idle all summer.
Wouldn't it be better to invest in more teachers rather than spending more money ($10's of millions more) building schools which will only be used 3/4 of the year?

seagalfan07

SRL...it is an intriguing idea that parents seem (at least on the surface) to like. I wanted to attend the conversation but was out of town on business. The only concern i would have is "open enrollment". If its a popular idea then our district gets flooded with kids we can't take. If it becomes unpopular then our district loses major funding because of a significantly lower head count. In summary, it would have to be thoroughly researched. Only 150 people attended the original CC, and only 50 attended the anniversary. That hardly constitutes a majority. With that said, I am confident in Dr. Saron's leadership.

mowboy25

Yes I could support this idea. It is a waste of money leaving these buildings empty and at the same time paying full time wages to teachers who work part time. Thankfully we have Wis Act 10 which already gives our school boards the tools and means to really do something to improve public education.

SRLaBelle

Mow,
I think our teachers work hard and are fairly compensated, adding new unpaid days to the school year isn't what I am getting at.
I wonder if we could shift one or two school weeks out of the depths of Winter by extending the Christmas break and add those weeks back in during June?
I think we could cut our heating costs, build fewer snow days into the schedule and reduce the amount of class time dedicated to "review" each Fall.
it seems to me that child care issues would net out the same.
I don't mean to suggest that such a change would be simple, there are many stake holders who would be impacted, I am just wondering if it is possible to overcome the inertia of tradition and seriously consider reinventing the "school year"?
If we trade the coldest weeks of the year for the first few weeks of Summer, how much would we save on utility bills?, Could we cut a snow day out of the schedule?
Would the students benefit academically?

SRLaBelle

In winter the school buses buy "winter mix" diesel, which is significantly more expensive and Diesel engines have better fuel economy when the ambient temperatures are higher, not to mention the fact that the bus company doesn't have to start all the buses and let them warm up on a June day (as I am sure they did this morning when it was eight below outside.)
If we avoided a few weeks of winter busing by moving a few weeks of January school to June we might save transportation money.

HaroldAMaio

----reducing mental health stigma

Were any school to try to teach my children a stigma you can bet I would be at their door immediately.

Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

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