Tennis courts, open records also discussed
By Holly Neumann
The Iola-Scandinavia School Board again discussed strategic planning and the tennis court project during its March 12 meeting.
Dr. Al Brown, from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, (WASB) gave a presentation on the importance of strategic planning.
He stressed that every community is different.
“What are you getting into is what you really need to know,” Brown said. “Pick the process that meets your needs.”
Brown noted it was refreshing to see Iola-Scandinavia had mission and vision statements.
“You usually get one or the other and yours is complete,” he said. “Now, how are you going to get there?”
The first component is a steering committee made up of board members, teachers, parents and community members. He suggests a minimum of 15-25 people.
The next piece is a community survey.
“We are trying to connect with as many people as possible in many different ways,” he said.
Travis Bassett questioned how the board was going to pitch the idea to the community since the previous process somewhat collapsed.
“There might be a great deal of skepticism about how this is going to play out or if it’s going to play out,” he said.
Board President Kristen Hoyord said they have not discussed this yet.
She believes District Administrator Ray Przekurat has some ideas.
“We do need to move forward. We have to have some kind of vision for the future,” said Przekurat. “I’ve know there might be some hesitation. I have been talking to the community for months now, and I have seen quite a few people that are interested in this.”
Vice President Mike Koles said the strategic plan was never implemented because in the past the district did not have the leadership necessary to do that.
“I think we have different leadership now,” he said.
Hoyord later gave an update on the tennis court project, after being contacted by community members for clarification on events that had happened.
Przekurat, Sarah Thiel and Hoyord met with the tennis association to discuss the matter.
“We decided that there was a lot of poor miscommunication on both ends, as well as with the liaison between the tennis group and the school board,” she said. “My recommendation is that we invite the tennis group back to a Buildings and Grounds meeting and talk about what we want to do about the tennis courts and the donations that they have.”
Hoyord said they could either look at a new location or at the same site where they have already done work.
“The board did not approve that work,” she said. “However, it was approved and so we might need to stand behind that.”
Koles said the board did not know the tennis courts were going to occur until they were told by the former district administrator that he had discussions saying the tennis court association could have the land.
“This is still something I am challenged by,” he said. “The district administrator is not allowed to just give land away.”
Initially, the tennis association was told the board was willing to work with them and that they could go ahead and level it off to see if it would work.
“They said they would do that at their own cost and they went tremendously further than that,” Koles said.
The project was conditionally approved for leveling the area, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and storm water analysis.
In January 2017 the MOU came back.
“We were told our attorney wrote it,” said Koles. “We found out that was a misrepresentation by a former employee of the district.”
He noted that according to the school’s attorney, the district would have been in legal trouble if they had signed it.
The board still has not received the storm water analysis.
The conditional approval that was originally given was eventually rescinded due to lack of communication.
“We have always been willing to work with them, but there have been nine month gaps when we have no communication with them,” Koles said.
Hoyord suggested the board start over and asked Buildings and Grounds Chairman Ken Wavruk to work with Przekurat and Keith Williams to set something up.
“I am not saying that the board did anything wrong, but there was some wrong done by the district, and we need to stand behind that,” she said.
The board also approved a resolution it will send to state representatives, asking that all school districts be able to recuperate extraordinary costs associated with open records requests.
“We looked at creating this resolution because of incidents that happened last year,” said Hoyord. “There was a lot of money spent by the district, and we are concerned about how this occurs for all schools everywhere, not just here.”
“It is not just to look at the past. It’s to look at the future,” Przekurat said.
Przekurat noted the district was only able to recuperate about 10 percent of the cost of the time and efforts that went in to filling such requests.
This resolution is not against public open records requests, but would put the full costs associated with them on those requesting the information.
“This would just be a further step so taxpayers don’t have to bear the brunt and kids don’t have to bear the brunt of these types of requests,” Koles said.
Koles noted they do charge for materials, 10 cents a page and location costs.
“But when you ask for literally thousands of emails that have to be read by attorneys and redacted, those attorney’s fees, those administrative fees, are not under the law are not considered location costs. So, all those associated costs have to come out of taxpayer money.”
In total, the district spent $27,000 last year for open records requests.
The resolution was unanimously approved.