Wauzeka school board approves repair projects, yearly audit

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The Wauzeka-Steuben Board of Education had their hands full when they convened on Feb. 19 for a regular board meeting; the agenda had seven actionable items, which included repairs, records retention proposals and signage for the district’s building.

Present were Nikki Asleson, President; Ken Buck, Vice President; Thomas Martin, Clerk; Mara Hird, Treasurer; and Jessie Bird, Board Member. Dr. Gary Albrecht, Interim District Administrator; Tiffany Dums, Principal; Kevin Kilburg, Director of Special Education; and Jeff Mara, Business Official, were also in attendance.


2022-23 audit

Krisztina Dommer, Lauterbach & Amen, LLP, presented the 2022-23 audit report to the Board of Education, a process Wisconsin required school districts to complete each year. She stated it was the first audit they conducted with Wauzeka-Steuben.

Dommer noted Lauterbach & Amen worked exclusively with government and non-profit organizations, which helped make the district’s audit a “smooth” process. The result was also favorable for the school district.

“We view internal control frameworks from the lens of those type of entities,” Dommer said. “That’s why we don’t have harsh comments for you. We believe that—even though you are a small district—you’ve got enough controls and the board does enough approvals that things are functioning as they should be for a district your size.”

The district received the audit in two pieces: the financial statements and a management communication. Together, they formed the firm’s audit opinion.

“The only thing that matters is [sic] you have what we call a ‘clean opinion’ or an ‘unmodified opinion,’” Dommer stated. She added that the district received an unmodified opinion from Lauterbach & Amen.

The board approved the audit report as presented.


AGR report

Kilburg presented the Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) report the board. The AGR is done after each semester and submitted to the board and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

Martin asked if Kilburg and Dums were pleased with the results.

“I’m pleased,” Kilburg said. “Our goal is for all students to grow, and our goal is for our bottom 50 percent to basically close the gap.” 

Martin agreed: “Everything [student performance in academic areas] went up.”

Dums said district staff had discussion every day to find pathways for continued improvement. “The goal is no student is stagnant. We have areas to grow, like math.”

Dums and Kilburg said math intervention resources were not as prevalent compared to reading and language arts. The district had seen strides in the latter two subjects, but math intervention programs were limited by a lack of staff and possibilities.

“We don’t have enough bodies to manage that, and we try to get them any way we can,” Dums added.

“My mind goes to how many rocks you’ve turned over,” Martin said.

“They [school districts] put them on a computer,” Dums answered. Kilburg stated they had reached out to other schools for strategies and resources, but the district was looking for more than a software program.

Dums stated the current curriculum had some interventions built-in and the district already had computer programming as part of that process, but personnel remained the key issue. “We need another [sic] couple of bodies to help with this.”

The board accepted and approved the AGR report.


New signage

Luke Severson from Sign Art introduced two exterior signage options for the school building.

The first was a non-illuminated sign that would have letters cut out of a sturdy material—possibly an aluminum composite—with vinyl print for color at a cost of $8,152.70. Severson said, “It’ll basically look like a flat panel on the wall.”

The second was an illuminated, three dimensional sign with acrylic-covered LED lights at a cost of $21,003.50.

The cost of both options included the sign and labor costs to have the sign mounted.

Asleson expressed concern for the costs involved, saying, “Full disclosure: we are a pretty small district, and we do have to go to our community for referendum dollars to keep our doors open. Just speaking for myself, I’d be leaning toward the non-illuminated option and look for an alternative [for lighting].”

Mounted lights angled onto the signage were discussed as an option to make the sign visible at night.

Severson stated both options were viable for the district considering the area they were in.

Albrecht stated the sign may have to wait until the Spring of 2025 to be placed on the building due to other building projects already initiated. Severson stated bid amounts for either option may change due to the possible delay.

The board tabled the purchase of signage for the building until the next meeting, currently scheduled for March 19, to deliberate options and funding possibilities.


Other business

-Pat Harvat, Maintenance Director, stated planned bleacher repairs were scheduled for March 21-23, which would bring the bleachers to code and safety standards. The cost for the repairs was projected to $7,922. The board approved the repairs.

-The district received a donation in the name of Mike Drake. Drake was a Wauzeka alumnus. “Mr. Drake was a huge consumer of the written word, and he made a request to donate funds back to local school districts,” Martin said.

-Approved the middle school football co-op proposal with Seneca. The proposal will go back to Seneca for approval. Martin stated the proposal would make a 50/50 partnership with home games location decided by field surface evaluation between athletic staff, coaches and administrative staff.

-Approved a contract for a consultant Melissa Herek to assist with the location of retention records for the district. Albrecht stated the contract would be for six days through the end of the year.

-Approved State Future Business Leaders of America Trip to Green Bay on April 7-9.

-Asleson presented Martin with a level one Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) certificate for his work with the School Board of Education and WASB.

-Approved re-profiling of concrete block sills at a projected cost of $19,205. Albrecht stated there were between 75 and 80 sills that needed to be either wrapped in steel or sawed off. He suggested the latter for both appearances and a lower likelihood of wear and tear.

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