School fees for the New London School District have not changed in 11 years, except for lunch prices. Next year’s fees will be no different.
Joe Marquardt, the district’s director of Business Services, presented the recommended 2015-16 school fees to school board members for their approval on Monday, May 11.
According to Marquardt, these funds are used to offset budgets for curriculum materials and costs associated with each specific fee. The district has not increased the expense accounts in these areas of the budget and is recommending that the revenue from fees remain constant.
The only recommendation is an increase of 10 cents in lunch prices. Elementary lunches will increase from $2.25 to $2.35, and the intermediate/middle school and high school lunches will increase from $2.65 to $2.75.
“This is necessary to comply with the price equity tool from the USDA,” Marquardt said.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) utilizes the price equity tool to compare the relationship of the free reimbursement rate to full price lunches. New London’s free reimbursement for a meal is $2.98.
“Since our meals charges are less than this amount, we must raise lunch prices in order to be in the National School Lunch program,” Marquardt said.
Overall, board members were happy with the proposed fees for the next school year.
“Our fees are quite reasonable compared to other districts,” said Ginny Schlais, acting president of the school board.
There was a short discussion about student parking fees. Although there was no proposal for an increase in parking fees, some board members felt the district should set aside more money for maintenance of the parking lot.
The cost for a parking pass is $25 per semester. According to Marquardt, this school year the district has generated $9,425 from 286 passes.
Board member John Faucher said he would be in favor of a $10 increase in student parking fees in order to help with the costs of maintaining the student parking lot. He further commented that driving a car to school is a privilege often taken for granted.
Other board members had similar comments and agreed that an increase in parking fees could be an item to be further looked into for the future. The board approved 6-0 the school fees for the 2015-16 school year.
Marquardt also provided an update to the high school security and counseling center remodel.
“The main entrance area in the high school is the hub of our focus,” Marquardt said.
Board members were given a modeled drawing that illustrated the area of focus and what the remodel will look like when completed.
The remodel area will be near where the main office of the high school is currently. The idea of the remodel is to create a secure check-in/check-out corridor for students and guests.
The corridor will then branch out to the administrative staff offices, the police liaison office, the nurse’s office, and other various counseling offices. The layout of the remodel will better service the students in a more organized way, getting them where they need to go instead of them going through one, busy office.
According to Marquardt, funding for this project will come from various resources. Some will come from the security referendum, and some resources from the maintenance budget. For example, the district’s maintenance funds for snow removal.
“Because we didn’t have a lot of snow fall we were able to spend less on the snow removal, therefore we have a little more flexibility in the maintenance budget to use some of the funds for this remodel,” Marquardt said.
Administrators and the district’s planning committee have drafted several documents for bids with contractors, and currently the state is reviewing the plans. Pending the final approval from the state or any adjustments, the district hopes to start the construction the day after school is out for summer.
Administrators addressed the future of the district’s agricultural program based on comments from the community.
“We’ve heard a rumor in the community that we are cancelling the agricultural program and this rumor is absolutely not true,” District Administrator Kathy Gwidt said. “But we have come to understand that something has to change.”
Gwidt further stated that the district is at a point in which it needs to redefine its agricultural program and assign one person to this area full time.
The high school will see a reduction of approximately 50 students for the 2015-16 school year. A large class of seniors will be graduating and a smaller class of freshmen will replace that group.
“We are looking to strengthen our programs with the help of our environment science teacher John Ruckdashel,” Gwidt said.
Ruckdashel is currently working to attain certification in agriculture. With a dual certification in agriculture and science, it will allow the district to offer the same classes that have been available the past couple of years.
These classes are: Intro to Agriculture, Natural Resource Management, Small Animal Care, and Vet Science.
The district will also look to its partnership with the Wolf River Career Pathway Program to ensure students have opportunities to take courses that extend beyond the basics offered at the high school.
“We are grateful to all who have helped and offered their support as we work to grow this program,” Gwidt said. “We will keep the Board and the community apprised of our efforts to sustain and grow the School District of New London’s Agriculture Program.”