Schools, community join to create the future
With all the energy generated by Luxemburg-Casco High School’s pep rally last week and the Luxemburg-Casco football team moving into the playoffs with a 5-2 record in the new North Eastern Conference, Superintendent Glenn Schlender has lots of reasons to feel optimistic.
But the program that is really grabbing his attention this fall is a program initiated by the Luxemburg-Casco School Board to work with its local communities called “Creating our Future Together – A Community Conversation.”
Last May, more than 125 community leaders, citizens and educators participated in a three-day event designed to identify the issues and trends that were shaping the Luxemburg-Casco community and its schools. More than 20 themes were identified, and the school board and administration agreed over the summer to look at a timetable for addressing each item.
“It was much more powerful to have this come from the community than from me or the administration,” said Schlender.
This fall school officials are moving forward on those themes.
The major issue that was identified was the need to develop a long-term strategic plan for the school’s facilities that would address revamping the Main Campus in Luxemburg. The participants also identified as important technology upgrades, the development of a community fitness center and gymnasium, and improvements to the high school’s tech education facility and programs. Participants also rated as important the school district’s efforts to develop more partnerships with businesses, higher education and community groups.
The school board is now undergoing a facilities and energy assessment that will allow it to determine if there are credits available to fund some of the facility improvements, said Schlender. He said this was a required first-step in facility planning.
In addition, the school district will host a special event this fall for area businesses and community groups to help identify partnerships that can benefit the schools, Schlender said.
Among the other top 10 themes identified were communications with the community, early involvement with the guidance office regarding student careers, creative funding through new businesses, scholarships and open enrollment, and community service programs for students.
The Luxemburg-Casco School Board recently added community service hours to the high school’s graduation requirements, which will encourage all students to become more involved in community activities, Schlender said.
“The goal of the ‘Creating our Future’ program was to rekindle our relationship with the community and look for ways we can collaborate moving forward,” he said, adding that the program had been very successful so far in strengthening the community bond. Schlender said that the event will be held annually to report progress to the community and solicit additional assistance and ideas.
The Luxemburg-Casco School District this fall has also hired a part-time curriculum director to begin addressing gaps in the curriculum and improve student achievement across the schools, according to Schlender.
“We want everyone to be on the same page about what we want our students to learn,” he said. He said that the new director was just beginning to form groups to address different areas of the curriculum among the different the schools in the district.
Luxemburg-Casco this year also introduced a 4-K program and more than 80 students have enrolled this year, Schlender said.
In the Kewaunee School District, building the future together has translated into a major construction program to improve all of its school facilities.
“Exciting things are happening in Kewaunee,” says new District Administrator Karen Treml, who took over her new post in July from retiring superintendent Joe Innis. She had been serving as principal of the middle school as well as special education director and has worked in the district for more than 15 years.
First on her agenda is the renovation and construction of the school district’s Main Campus on Third Street in the city, which is funded by a $16.2 million referendum approved last April.
“We are right on target with our time line,” says Treml, noting that bids for the construction will be coming in this December and January and the district hopes to break ground in April or May. The school district held a meeting for the community last week to show a Power Point presentation on the renovation’s progress.
The construction will include demolishing the Hillcrest School and restoring the existing site for athletic fields, constructing a new gym and district offices at the site of the main campus and remodeling and modernizing learning environments, including the agricultural lab/greenhouse and weight room/wellness center. New security at main entrances and added energy efficient systems are also part of the plan.
“We are proud of what we are doing for the kids,” says Treml.
At the grade school, the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) program is teaching students how to be positive, respectful and responsible. The Kewaunee Elementary and Middle Schools earned recognition from the Wisconsin PBIS network as a School of Merit in 2014 and again this year.
Under the program, various activities are held throughout the school year to teach kids to think positively. Students are recognized for positive behavior with gold ribbons and middle school students and teachers provide role modeling exercises to help students learn to handle behavioral issues in a positive way. This year, the PBIS program will host a Pumpkin Run and Turkey Trot as well as a Holiday Extravaganza for students and their families, said Sandy Morton, special education teacher and one of the PBIS directors.
“One of the goals of the program is to spotlight children who make good choices,” Morton said.
Supt. Nick Cochart is pleased with the community engagement in the school’s new Wellness Center, which opened last spring. More than 300 community members have signed up for membership and more than 500 students and faculty also are using the facility, he said.
“Involvement in the center has exceeded expectations,” said Cochart, a former Badgers football player who says he regularly uses the center himself. “It is great to see a 70-year-old working out next to a 15-year-old,”
Cochart said the center may be one reason enrollment has increased in the district by more than 25 students this year.
“We are happy to among the few school districts with increased enrollment,” he said. “Our programs are giving us a good reputation.”
The high school’s Lakeview Regional Tech Academy last year moved into new facilities known as the Olson Tech Center at the high school, partnering with Olson Fabrication Inc. in Algoma. This year, the center will train approximately 10 high school students in manufacturing, welding and fabrication with assistance from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
Cochart said that the tech academy is an example of the partnerships the Algoma School District has forged with the business and higher education communities.
The school is also participating in the PBIS program.
“I see kids getting a golden ticket … they are excited about it,” said Cochart. “It is part of teaching them to be good citizens.”
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Schools, community join to create the future