Administrators say public dollars going to private schools
By Jennifer LeNoble
New London school administrators shared with school board members their concerns regarding Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal.
“There has been many phone calls, letter writing, emails, and presentations given to legislators in an attempt to further inform them of what free and appropriate public education means,” said District Administrator Kathy Gwidt at the June 8 meeting. “Despite our efforts there is still voucher expansion included in the budget proposal.”
According to Gwidt, any decision that is made to publicly fund religious and other private schools will diminish opportunity for public schools which are mandated to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all students, despite their needs.
“Currently as far as we know we are not being funded adequately with one public school system,” Gwidt said. “The tremendous concern is if they try to fund two school systems, what is that going to look like? We just don’t know.”
Gwidt further commented that they are concerned that short term tax relief will have long term consequences, and will ultimately cost the community more instead of less.
Other budget implications concerning the district were home schooled and virtual students, changes in standard licensing for teachers, and testing assessments for graduates.
Home schooled and virtual students would be allowed to participate in any extra-curricular or athletic team the district offers.
“Beside cost, this raises a multitude of eligibility concerns that we would have little control over,” Gwidt said.
The current proposal would also allow those individuals without a bachelor’s degree to teach in multiple subject areas. There is also concern over assessments to include a new mandate of a Civics assessment as a requirement to graduate from high school.
Gwidt further commented that the district has known funding for education has to change. Over the years the district has conserved funding and has been fortunate to go to the community in helping with funding through referendum.
“We are very proud of what we have to offer here in New London and we remain hopeful that common sense will prevail as concerns are voiced,” Gwidt said. “We will continue to advocate for our kids and public schools.”
Technology is a key source to the district’s daily activities in teaching and student learning. Director of Business Services Joseph Marquardt summarized key components of the 2014-15 technology budget with board members.
The total technology budget was $406,000 and is broken down into four categories: supplies and equipment, $230,000; software, $115,000; purchased services, $34,000; and capital leases, $27,000.
The allocation of supplies and equipment were the Chromebook Initiative, switches to connect the district, and general supplies to maintain the district’s technology equipment.
There are several software programs that are utilized by students, staff and parents that aid the district in achieving student learning. Some examples include: Skyward, KSCADE, emergency notification system, website and Read 180.
“We typically see increases in software programming in correlation to increase of prices from our vendors,” Marquardt said.
Purchased services are allocated for the professional installation services the district cannot do locally. The capital lease was allocated for the final year of lease payment for the signal tower at Readfield. The district will not have any outstanding leases moving forward in technology.
“We’ve expressed this several times but we are extremely fortunate to have referendum dollars from the passage in 2009 to support the technology needs in our district to maximize student achievement,” Marquardt said.
New London High School offers many advanced placement courses in Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Art Departments.
These courses provide students the opportunity to complete college-level work while still in high school, and take an AP exam and possibly earn college credit.
According to Director of Teaching and Learning Terry Wetzel, one course that has been steadily gaining popularity is AP Statistics.
“When this course started in 2006 we had approximately 16 students enrolled, and next year there are 90 students registered,” Wetzel said. “The course is taught by high school math teacher Todd Koeller and he has so much fun teaching it.”
Thus far the students have had a high success rate in earning college credit upon completion of the exam.
“We are exceedingly proud of all of the AP offerings that students are able to take advantage of while at New London High School,” Wetzel said.