School board seeks community engagement
By Robert Cloud
The Waupaca School Board approved a resolution allowing donations to a designated fund to build a new athletic facility or repair Haberkorn Field.
The resolution was passed at the board’s Dec. 13 meeting.
At a Dec. 8 meeting, the board learned that to repair the bleachers and track at Haberkorn Field would cost more than $730,000.
Relocating the football field to the high school would cost $2.3 million.
According to Carl Hayek, the district’s business manager, a new field can be built at the high school without passing a referendum or raising taxes.
The district could cover about $1.1 million of the project’s costs by using available cash and selling assets. Community fundraising could cover the remaining $1.2 million.
The resolution establishes a designated fund for the project, while committing the district to match the funds raised through donations.
Waupaca School Board member Sandy Robinson was elected to replace Connie Baldwin as the board’s treasurer.
Baldwin resigned from the board because she is moving to the LaCrosse area. She served on the school board for 15 years.
Baldwin’s vacant seat will be filled for the remaining year of her term in the spring 2017 school board election.
Two other seats will be up for election. The two candidates with the most votes will serve full three-year terms, while the candidate who comes in third place will serve the remaining two years of Baldwin’s term.
Incumbents Stephen Johnson, board president, and Patrick Phair are up for re-election in 2017.
The board voted 4-2 to hire Patina Solutions to conduct Future Search, a structured process for engaging the community regarding the performance, outcomes and future goals of the Waupaca School District.
Steve Shambeau and Johnson voted against the resolution.
District Administrator Greg Nyen said the school board would recruit 75 to 125 people in the community to participate in a process to “celebrate the past, focus on the present and discuss where our school district to be 10 to 15 years from now.”
According to Drew Howick, with Patina Solutions, “Over a period of approximately 14 hours, spread out over two or three days, stakeholders from the greater Waupaca area will participate in a series of conversations that will result in the identification of what Waupaca school students will need to be successful in college and careers.”
Howick said the Future Search process should include parents, teachers, students, employers, elected officials, non-teaching staff, senior citizens, school board members, social workers, clergy, administrators and others who are concerned about the school district’s future.
The board will also encourage all 2017 school board candidates to participate, as well as anyone interested in being part of the process.
School Board member Betty Manion said the process could help identify the “rising stars” among the young parents and young professionals in the community.
“By tapping into these key community members, we’ll be tapping into their circles of influence,” Nyen said.
Johnson asked board members if they had discussed this with other people in the community, adding that he would like to know how much community interest there was before spending $25,000 to implement Future Search.
“That’s a lot of money,” Steve Shambeau said. “Is this something we need?”
Phair amended the resolution to include a caveat that if there is not enough interest in the community to participate in Future Search then the district can dissolve the contract.
Nyen told the Waupaca County Post on Monday, Dec. 19, that he negotiated the cost for Patina Solutions’ services from $25,000 to $22,500.
Patina Solutions will address the concerns raised about the contract and community interest at a special board meeting in January, Nyen said.