Memorial plaques at school
Proposed policy supports removal
By Erik Buchinger
The Clintonville School Board held a first reading of a proposed policy regarding the memorial plaques for students and staff who die while still involved with the school.
The topic was raised after Clintonville High School student Austin Arnold committed suicide this summer.
Arnold’s mother was in attendance and said she is in favor of keeping the plaques on the wall to remember students.
“People look at [suicide] differently than getting killed in a car accident when teenagers drink and drive, and we put those plaques up,” she said. “My son apparently wasn’t in his right state of mind because all the information, we’ve been given says that people in the right state of mind wouldn’t do something like this. I’m just here to defend his honor. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be with the others on that wall that did attend the school.”
Arnold’s mother said she discussed the possibility of his other son seeing his plaque on the wall at school.
“I got a phone call questioning how his younger brother will feel coming to the high school seeing his plaque on the wall,” she said. “My son lives in the house where Austin lived. He sees his bedroom door every day not open, he sees his picture hanging on the wall. It’s not going to change having a plaque on the wall how he feels because he sees it every day.”
The board made its first reading of the policy to take down the plaques:
The board of education recognizes the far-reaching impact that a student or staff member’s death may have on students, staff, families and the community. The board believes that the remembrance of a student or staff member whose life ended during his or her school year should be consistent from case to case.
Considering the grief process of family and friends in accordance of this policy, the board recognizes the importance of remembering accidental or natural deaths of students or staff recommends the memorials take the form of scholarships.
Generally, the board does not support permanent memorials, including but not limited to, the use of memorial plaques or markers, which are mounted or displayed on district buildings or grounds. Memorials are permissible only after a proposal is approved by the superintendent.
When there is a student suicide, the board is concerned that the tragic death not be glorified or serve as an incentive for self-inflicted acts by others. The district will respond in the appropriate matter that prioritizes the wellbeing of the student body.
The board will take feedback and revisit the discussion during its next meeting.
New elementary school recommended
Members of the Elementary Facilities Task Force recommended to add a new school based on its study of the elementary facilities and a community survey at the school board meeting Monday, Nov. 14.
Task force members Amanda Gross and Larry J. Czarnecki made a presentation to recommend voters to be in favor of the $24.9 million referendum for the April 2017 election.
The recommendation calls for a renovation to Clintonville’s Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School, which was built in 1918.
The tax impact would be $98 per $100,000 property value, which would be for the first five years before dropping off to the same level, Czarnecki said.
Matthew Wolfert of Bray Architects emphasized the importance of trusting the data and survey. He also warned that it will not be an easy process.
“I would say this isn’t a slam dunk,” Wolfert said. “I think as you saw from the perspective of the data, we have a lot of hard work to do with the community to help them understand the needs and get them to the school to see the challenges you face with a building of that age and how education has changed.”
Students propose open-campus lunch
Three Clintonville High School students presented an idea to the board to offer an open campus lunch for juniors and seniors.
This would allow students to eat outside of the lunch room, whether it be eating outside, at home, a friend’s house or elsewhere.
The students cited that nearby high schools allow open campus lunch. Among some of the suggestions included parent or guardian approval, a set minimum GPA and good behavior.
The students proposed to undergo a lengthy trial to start in January to see how students would handle it.
Clintonville High School Principal Lance Bagstad said he was in favor of the proposal of an open campus lunch.
New wrestling coach hired
The school board approved the hiring of Clintonville High School wrestling head coach Exavier Dimick.