PdC board reviews performance reports

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Marcy Kraus (Photo courtesy of Prairie du Chien School District)

By Steve Van Kooten


During the June 10 Prairie du Chien Board of Education meeting, Bluff View Elementary School principal Tomi Gebhard addressed Bluff View Middle School principal Marcy Kraus’ resignation.

“I could not have asked for a more dedicated, hardworking farm girl from Iowa who came in and gave it her all. Marcy and I had many reflections in the last few days, and there isn’t anyone I would have wanted to start this journey with.”

Gebhard noted that Kraus had been with the district for three years. The June meeting was Kraus’ last for the district.

The district has experienced several resignations in the past few months, including assistant high school principal Mike Bennett. BA Kennedy and Bluff View have experienced turnover on their staff roster as teachers, aides and other staff members have either retired or “moved on to other ventures,” as Gebhard said during the meeting.

The district is hiring new staff to fill the spots, though. On June 10, the board approved several new teaching hires for Bluff View, which included Eric Mumm, the district’s new assistant middle school and high school principal. Along with Doug Morris, the high school principal, Mumm will split his time between Bluff View and the high school.

In attendance were board members Noah White, Lonnie Achenbach, Jim Hackett, Dustin Brewer, Lacie Anthony, Vice President Nick Gilberts and President Michael Higgins, Jr. Also present were Vicki Waller, District Administrator Andy Banasik and principals Doug Morris, Kraus, Gebhard and Laura Stuckey.


CTE update

Banasik updated the board of education on plans for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center, which now has a “soft start” set for the 2024–25 school year for grades 6–12.

Banasik outlined basic programming overviews for all grades: grade 6 students will be introduced to robotics and renewable energy concepts (focused on solar and wind); grades 7–8 students will also have a focus on robotics, drone operations and electrical systems; grades 9–12 students have the option to study mechatronics, control systems, engineering concepts and industrial robotics as part of the CTE curriculum. Banasik said the current Tech Ed staff members are training for the new programming.

Banasik said the school acquired donations to pay for equipment costs.

During the 2024–25 school year, each grade level will remain in their current location. Previously, members of the community brought concerns to the board about the middle school students moving to the high school building.

Banasik said the CTE is still a developing issue, and more information will become available as time progresses.


HS Discipline report

During the high school report, Morris submitted a discipline report for the 2023–24 school year.

The report showed the high school had 581 total infractions during the 2023–24 school year, down from 617 the previous year. The school saw decreases in four out of five categories, including electronic policy infractions (-20.22 percent), refusal and defiance (-37.83 percent), disrespect (-90 percent) and inappropriate behavior (-69.23 percent).

While Morris acknowledged the numbers were going in the right direction, he said, “All in all, I was hoping our decreases would’ve went down a little more than that.”

The only category that saw an increase in violations was inappropriate language, which went from 22 incidents in 2022–23 to 33 this past year.

“We are trying to crack down a bit on inappropriate language, so you can see that it went up, and that’s going to be a focus next year,” said Morris.

Vaping infractions increased from three to 15 in the same timeframe.

Cellphone violations did not follow a specific pattern over the year, according to Morris.

“Early in the year, it was in the classroom, then I think we went seven weeks in a row not taking any cellphones. About the last month and a half, kids with their cellphones in their pockets had them out during lunch or in the hallways.”

Anthony asked, “When it comes to disrespect or inappropriate behavior, where do you get that standard?”

“When the teachers write the discipline referral, they can categorize what they think the behavior is,” answered Morris. He added that there is no defined standard, and the category may be modified after discussion between the teacher, the student and the administration.


Performance reports

The district’s four principals submitted reports on student performance to the board of education.

Stuckey, BA Kennedy’s principal, reviewed the achievement gap reduction report, stating that math was a strong area for the students. Goals included a 75 percent growth rate among students in kindergarten and first grade.

“We didn’t meet all of our goals, but that doesn’t mean good things didn’t happen,” Stuckey said. She added that the data did not show any particular demographic with a large number of struggling students. Instead, underperforming students were present throughout different groups.

Gebhard reported that students in grades 3–5 came in above the national average in math, continuing the district’s strong math performance. Kraus said students in middle school had shown growth through the school year; however, some students were outpaced by the national and state averages, so fewer students were categorized as proficient.

In high school, student ACT scores were trending in a positive direction year-over-year, according to Morris.

“If you look at the national average, it has declined steadily. The average ACT score started at 20.7 and has dropped to 19.5.” Morris added that Wisconsin’s average is 19.8.

The Prairie du Chien School District reported an increased composite ACT score average over the past four years.

“COVID hit, and it dropped, then it dropped again,” said Morris. “We climbed back the last two years to 19.4. This year, we exceeded state and national averages at 20.4, so our growth is absolutely heading in the right direction.”

One PdC student achieved a perfect 36 ACT score during the 2023–24 year, along with a 35 and two 34 scores.

Morris said the middle and high schools would be building a curriculum calendar to track concepts and skills taught throughout the year. The calendar will help administration and staff address student learning gaps and get a “portrait of a graduate.”

“We’re going to build this calendar so, basically, at the end of each month, instructors can put down which standards they covered in which order in each month.”


Other business

• Banasik recommended school fees remain the same for the 2023–24 school year. The board approved keeping school fees the same.

• board kept the 2024–25 graduation date on Sunday, May 25. Other dates proposed during the meeting included Friday, May 23 and Saturday, May 24. The board elected to revisit moving graduation after the 2024-25 school year.

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