The New London School District received recognition for its working relationships with the business community as well as the multitude of options provided to students.
Mayor Gary Henke presented the district with the Special Community Enhancement Award during the 2014 New London Chamber Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 10. Superintendent Kathy Gwidt, High School Principal Joe Pomrening and High School teacher Missy Porath were in attendance and accepted the award on behalf of the district.
“We were pleasantly surprised and honored to receive this award,” Gwidt told school board members during the regular scheduled board meeting on Monday, April 14.
“Youth apprentice and dual credit opportunities, charter schools, Project Lead the Way, and accomplishments of students and staff within the Career Academies were noted as positives that continue to make a difference for our kids and the community,” Gwidt said.
The district was also nominated for an Excellence in Innovation Award. Nominations for the Quality of Life Award were provided to the School of Enterprise Marketing (STEM) team of Caitlin Schmidt, Cambria Fitzgerald, and Jenna Mytton for their True Beauty Campaign, as well as the Art Department for their role in the Mid-Winter Art Festival.
“It is with this type of community support that we are able to offer the variety and quality of educational opportunities our district provides students and families,” Gwidt said.
Lunch Prices to Increase
The district determines the minimum cost of lunch prices based on a “Paid Lunch Equity Tool.” This tool is a requirement of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for all school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program.
The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program and it provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to students. The program also provides schools cash reimbursement for meals served.
Schools are required to charge students for paid meals a price that is equal to the difference between free meal reimbursement and the paid meal imbursement. Schools that currently charge less for meal prices than the amount needed to create paid lunch equity are required to gradually increase prices or choose not to participate in federal funding.
According to Director of Business Services Joe Marquardt, the district budgeted $415,200 in federal food service aid for the 2013-14 school year, so the districts participation is necessary to avoid higher prices.
The current meal prices are $2.15 at the elementary level and $2.55 at the secondary level. These prices were calculated in the equity tool and determined that the district will need to increase lunch prices by 10 cents for the 2014-15 school year.
“This is the minimum amount to comply with the equity tool,” Marquardt said. “We will likely need to increase prices for the 2015-16 school year too.”
Marquardt further stated that New London is not the only district that is experiencing this process. It is a national mandate to increase healthy opportunities for all students.
Technology Student Association (TSA)
The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics) Academy has formed a new student organization called Technology Student Association (TSA).
This new program offers students opportunities to apply and integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematic concepts through co-curricular activities, competitions, and other related programs. Members will also learn through challenging competitions leadership activities and community service projects.
TSA members will be assisting with Relay for Life and the Mud Run at Mosquito Hill as community service projects.
“New London will be the first TSA chapter in Wisconsin,” Director of Teaching and Learning Jo Collar said. “Our students are very excited about this program.”
Advisors of the program are high school teachers Andy Fuhs and Danielle Kamba.
Autism Awareness Month
Director of Pupil Services Laurie Schmidt and Autism Consultant Jamie Bessette shared a presentation on Autism and the Special Education Program to school board members in recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month.
The presentation was designed to provide the board with background information on Autism and the services provided to students to assist them in being successful in the schools and community.
Autism is a condition that effects the way a person’s brain works. The brain processes information in different ways that may result in challenges to functioning throughout the school day. Students will Autism often show difficulty in perceiving emotions, imitating others, planning, starting and stopping, and organizing.
“There are 48 students identified as Autistic in special education,” Schmidt said. “There may be other students within the district but they’re not in need of special education.”
Board members also had an opportunity to see how various materials are applied in regards to the learning and processing strategy, as well as the sensory processing and social relation strategies.
“These materials are visual pieces to help students focus and help them get through their day,” Bessette said. “They help students organize their day and make it more manageable.”
Some of the materials included First/Then cards, Power Cards, rule cards, headphones, and blankets.
“These strategies are great for any student that is neurotypical or has a neurological impairment,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to keep adding the necessary tools to our tool basket to provide these students with what they need to succeed.”
Board member John Faucher related to the presentation by sharing stories from his personal experience of having a step-daughter with Aspergers and what he has learned over the years.
“I’m grateful for this program and I appreciate what the district does for all our students,” Faucher said.