With the Wisconsin Association of School Board (WASB) State Education Convention taking place Jan. 22 through 24 in Milwaukee, Lac du Flambeau Public School District superintendent Dr. Larry Ouimette on Wednesday, Jan. 15 presented the LdF Public School Board of Education with a packet detailing proposed resolutions to be voted on at the convention.
Board member Trish Mann will be representing the LdF Public School District at the convention.
Ouimette presented the board with resolutions he felt the district should support at the Delegate Assembly on Jan. 22.
These resolutions included the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding Recommendations, Transportation Aid for High Poverty Districts, Mental Health Categorical Aid, Native American Mascots and Formation of New K-8 and Union High School (UHS) Districts.
“There was a Blue Ribbon Commission that went around two years ago. I gave written testimony at one of the joint hearings in Tomahawk and their recommendations for school funding are very good, so I would recommend supporting that,” Ouimette said.
He added the resolution regarding transportation aid for high poverty districts would be beneficial, as well as the mental health categorical aid, which would “provide us a set dollar amount per student to help us with things like contracting with mental health service providers.”
“What about that meal shaming? Is that something that we should (support)?” board member Gary Smith asked.
Meal shaming, according to the WASB proposed 2020 resolutions report, is defined as a term child-hunger advocated use to describe practices that publicly identify children with unpaid school meal debts that can single out and embarrass students who can’t pay for lunch.
The resolution opposes those practices and encourages school districts to participate in federal programs enabling schools and districts to “provide no-charge meals to students at all income levels.”
“We can support that,” Ouimette said. “Meal shaming is something we don’t have to worry about in our district.”
Ouimette added that the LdF Public School district’s community eligibility program allowed for all students to eat for free.
“I would say that everything that’s in here should be supported, but I just wanted to focus on some of them that specifically hit us,” Ouimette said.
The board heard from director of special education and school psychologist Trish Teichmiller on the district’s availability for open enrollment in the 2020-2021 school year.
Ouimette explained open enrollment seats for a school year were determined in January the previous year and were based on available space.
“In the past couple of years, we’ve always allowed open enrollment. for our regular education students; however, our special education programs have been pretty crowded,” he said.
“We are basically at, or above, capacity with every teacher in every program,” Teichmiller said.
Teichmiller shared caseload analysis information with the board recommended by the Department of Public Instruction which helped determine open enrollment availability.
Teichmiller provided a breakdown of grade levels, saying the district had hired another early childhood teacher.
“We’re continuing to try to make that process and that program better and early identification better,” she said.
The board unanimously approved the 2020-2021 open enrollment seats determination.
The board of education Wednesday approved the audited financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2019.
“To summarize, our district continues to be in a strong financial status,” Dr. Ouimette said. “The school district completed the year with a general fund balance of over $10 million, which is about $781,000 more than last year’s fund balance.”
He added that actual expenses came in as less than expected “due to the fact that a significant portion of our cost of our new construction had not been paid yet.”
As a result, the district will see a “significant decrease in the fund balance in this year’s budget,” which has already been seen, according to Ouimette.
“We did have one recording error that the auditors corrected, which involved recording the retainage on the construction contract for work completed prior to June 30, 2019,” Ouimette said.
He said the construction company had put a 9% retainage fee, which the district pays after the work had been completed to the district’s satisfaction.
Since the construction company billed as work had been completed, and didn’t require the district to pay 9% of each bill, the district should have recorded it for the 2018-2019 school year, Dr. Ouimette said.
“And I thought it would be paid in 2020, and that’s where we’d put it, but that’s not the case,” Ouimette said. “So the auditors adjusted the journal entry to record the retainage as a payable in the financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2019.”
Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected].