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Board Communications

The Board of the Fontana J8 School District will use this page to share goals, progress, and the Board's best current thinking on various issues as they arise. We hope that this will help to keep the community informed and will support productive discussion.

Board Briefs - February 2017

posted Mar 2, 2017, 12:53 PM by Lisa Laing   [ updated Mar 2, 2017, 1:29 PM ]

In the interest of timely communication with our families, we offer these highlights from our recent Board meeting. These are neither official nor comprehensive. Official meeting minutes will be approved at the next meeting and then posted on the school's web site. Agendas and minutes for past meetings are posted here (this link will open in a new window).

Some highlights from the meeting:
  • Closed session: The board met in closed session to discuss matters concerning specific individuals, which are necessarily confidential. Upon returning to open session, the board did not take any action relating to the closed session.

  • Spotlight on Learning: 5th grade student Lauren Decker made a presentation to the board regarding her recent math project.

  • Spotlight on Staff: The Board recognized the 2016-17 Rotary Service Above Self award winner Lisa Popp, thanking her for her immeasurable contribution to our school.

  • Special Education overview: School Psychologist Danielle Harkness provided the board with an overview of Special Education, the laws surrounding it, and the process the school uses to develop an IEP for a student. This interactive presentation will be repeated for interested families at a future parent/guardian information session.

  • Class size: Dr. Norton presented research on class size and its impact on student learning. There is clear evidence supporting class sizes of 20 or smaller for the lower grades (K-3).

  • PTSO: Margaret Labus provided a PTSO report. The first annual "Mom Prom" is coming up this weekend.

Routine matters:
The board approved the minutes from prior meetings, the treasurer's report, and the bills paid during the prior month. The board reviewed policies from the 100 series to assess the need for revision, but few updates are needed. These will be finalized and approved at the next meeting. The Board appointed an impartial hearing officer to hear an employee grievance.


Next month:
Please join us on Monday, March 27 (note the date change), at 7:00 pm for our next board meeting. The official agenda will be posted on the school's web site and on the front entry of the school building a few days prior to the meeting.

Please note: All regular board meetings are open to the public. There is a specific time set aside during each meeting where members of the public can comment on agenda items, typically at the end of the meeting.

Board Briefs - January 2017

posted Jan 30, 2017, 10:31 AM by Lisa Laing   [ updated Apr 27, 2017, 11:13 AM ]

In the interest of timely communication with our families, we offer these highlights from our recent Board meeting. These are neither official nor comprehensive. Official meeting minutes will be approved at the next meeting and then posted on the school's web site. Agendas and minutes for past meetings are posted here (this link will open in a new window). 

Some highlights from the meeting:
  • Closed session: The board met in closed session to discuss matters concerning specific individuals, which are necessarily confidential. 

  • Mid-year goals update Dr. Norton reported progress toward 2016-17 goals related to the grant-funded Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) program, formerly known as the SAGE program. See the complete presentation attached below.

  • National Kindness Week: Dr. Norton also provided an update on school activities related to National Kindness Week.

  • PTSO: Margaret Labus provided a PTSO report. Upcoming events include the Winterfest fundraiser, a family field trip scheduled for a no-school day, a bingo night, and "Mom Prom."

  • 2017-18 Calendar: The board approved the school calendar for next year, which is now available on the school's web site.

  • Retirement: District Secretary Agnes Dillenbeck will retire at the end of this school year. The board accepted this news with heavy hearts and deep gratitude for her many years of service.

  • Education Convention: Board members who attended the state education convention shared their key take-aways. 
Routine matters:
The board approved the minutes from last month's meeting, the treasurer's report, and the bills paid during the prior month. The board updated the open enrollment policy to bring it in line with changes in state law, and also designated the number of new open enrollment seats for next school year. The board approved a revision to the staff handbook to clarify confusing language, as well as a revision to the BFASA operating agreement. 

Next month:
Please join us on Monday, February 27, at 7:00 pm for our next board meeting. The official agenda will be posted on the school's web site and on the front entry of the school building a few days prior to the meeting. 

Anticipated topics include: 

  • Spotlight on Learning: 5th Grade Math Project
  • Spotlight on Staff: 2016-17 Rotary Service Above Self Award Winner Lisa Popp
  • Update on our new 3K program
Please note: All regular board meetings are open to the public. There is a specific time set aside during each meeting where members of the public can comment on agenda items, typically at the end of the meeting.

Board Briefing - December 2016

posted Jan 5, 2017, 1:11 PM by Lisa Laing   [ updated Jan 5, 2017, 1:12 PM ]

In the interest of timely communication with our families, we offer these informal notes about what happened at our recent Board meeting. Official meeting minutes will be approved at the next meeting and then posted on the school's web site. Agendas and minutes for past meetings are posted here (this link will open in a new window).

Some highlights from the meeting:

  • Closed session: The board met briefly in closed session to discuss the Fontana Education Association's recent recertification election.
  • Summer school: Dr. Norton reviewed the summer school program from last year and highlighted potential changes contemplated for next summer.
  • Athletic uniforms: Dr. Norton also provided an update on new athletic uniforms and shared samples of the new uniforms with the Board.
  • School safety: Mr. Terhune reported on the recent meeting of the Safety Committee. Discussion followed regarding the potential walking path on school property and its impact on school safety.

Routine matters:

The board approved the minutes from last month's meeting, the treasurer's report, and the bills paid during the prior month. The board also approved a line of credit agreement with First National Bank and Trust Company. Regarding the April election, both Tom Labus and Kate Ketterhagen indicated that they planned to submit candidacy paperwork. Their terms are up this spring.

Next Month:

Please join us on Monday, January 23, at 7:00 pm for our next board meeting. The official agenda will be posted on the school's web site and on the front entry of the school building a few days prior to the meeting.

Anticipated topics include:

  • Report on the State Education Convention
  • Curriculum update: new 3K program, middle school elective update
  • Review of several outdated policies
Please note: All regular board meetings are open to the public. There is a specific time set aside during each meeting where members of the public can comment on agenda items, typically at the end of the meeting.

Board Briefing - November 2016

posted Dec 12, 2016, 12:11 PM by Lisa Laing   [ updated Dec 12, 2016, 12:11 PM ]

In the interest of timely communication with our families, we offer these informal notes about what happened at our recent Board meeting. Official meeting minutes will be approved at the next meeting and then posted on the school's web site. Agendas and minutes for past meetings are posted here (this link will open in a new window).

Some highlights from the meeting:

  • Staffing changes: The board accepted with regret the resignation of first-grade teacher Nicole Smithyman. Dr. Norton reviewed the related adjustments to the staffing plan for this year. The board also approved the contract to hire an additional special education aide, based on recently-identified needs.

  • Curriculum review: Dr. Norton and Mrs. Smithyman presented an overview of the world languages program, including program goals (exploration, not acceleration), languages currently offered, and how progress is measured and shared with parents.
See the presentation attached below. If you have questions, please contact Jennifer Smithyman, Director of Student Learning.
  • School report card: Dr. Norton reviewed the new district report card from Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction (DPI). She explained how the report card has evolved over the past few years and why, due to those changes, this year's report card cannot be usefully compared to prior years.
See the presentation attached below. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Norton.

Routine matters:

The board approved the minutes from last month's meeting, the treasurer's report, and the bills paid during the prior month. Dr. Norton provided an update on the evaluation of different student information systems. She also advised the board that the federally-required five-year self-evaluation regarding pupil non-discrimination is underway.

Next Month:

Please join us on Monday, December 19, at 7:00 pm for our next board meeting. The official agenda will be posted on the school's web site and on the front entry of the school building a few days prior to the meeting.

Anticipated topics include:

  • Food service 
  • Curriculum update: middle school electives
  • Review of several outdated policies
Please note: All regular board meetings are open to the public. There is a specific time set aside during each meeting where members of the public can comment on agenda items, typically at the end of the meeting.

Board Briefing - October 2016

posted Oct 31, 2016, 1:40 PM by Lisa Laing   [ updated Oct 31, 2016, 1:41 PM ]

In the interest of timely communication with our families, we offer these informal notes about what happened at our recent Board meeting. Official meeting minutes will be approved at the next meeting and then posted on the school's web site. Agendas and minutes for past meetings are posted here (this link will open in a new window).

The Regular Meeting

Some highlights from the meeting:

  • Planning ahead: The board finalized a statement outlining our areas of focus for the next five years. This statement is posted on our web site here.

  • Improving walkability: The board heard a presentation from Thomas Whowell, Fontana Village Trustee, regarding the development of a public pathway connecting the Fen and the Mill Pond, which would pass the school along the way. The board formed a path partnership committee to work with the Village on this idea. 
Parents, guardians, and community members interested in serving on this committee should contact Dr. Norton.
  • Extracurricular needs: Dr. Norton shared the plan for updating our uniforms and equipment for middle school sports. Some new equipment is needed (volleyball net, volleyballs), and the time has come to replace the uniforms for many sports. Coaches and parents are working with Ms. Green to make this happen.

  • Food service and wellness committee update: The school's wellness committee will meet soon. In addition to recommending updates to school health and wellness policies, the committee will also seek feedback and suggestions from families regarding the school lunch program. 
Parents, guardians, and community members interested in serving on this committee should contact Rick Terhune, the school's Business Manager.

Routine matters:

The board approved the minutes from last month's meeting, the treasurer's report, and the bills paid during the prior month. The board also approved the hiring of an additional special education aide to meet increased needs.

The Annual Meeting

This meeting is held each year in October. It is chaired by a citizen (not a board member) and is the meeting at which we finalize the budget and set the tax levy.

  • This year Margaret Labus was nominated to chair the meeting.

  • School board president Lisa Laing made a brief statement regarding the Board's areas of focus for the next five years.

  • Superintendent Dr. Sara Norton gave a presentation on the current state of the school and the goals for the current school year. The presentation (pdf) is attached at the bottom of this page.

  • School Business Manager Rick Terhune presented the treasurer's report and audit summary for the prior year, as well as the 2016-17 budget. He also reviewed the Community Service Fund which supports our preschool and daycare programs.

  • The group set the tax levy, which is down from last year.

  • Next year's annual meeting will be held on October 23, 2017, at 8:00 pm.

Next Month

Please join us on Monday, November 28, at 7:00 pm for our next board meeting. The official agenda will be posted on the school's web site and on the front entry of the school building a few days prior to the meeting.

Anticipated topics include:

  • Food service
  • Foreign language program update

Please note: All regular board meetings are open to the public. There are specific times set aside during each meeting where members of the public can comment on agenda items, typically at the beginning and end of the meeting.

Board Focus 2020

posted Oct 31, 2016, 8:10 AM by Lisa Laing   [ updated Oct 31, 2016, 8:10 AM ]

This statement was finalized at the October 2016 Board meeting:

The Fontana J8 Board of Education has identified the following areas of focus for the next five years. Once adopted, specific goals will be identified and action plans created.

Communication
We will focus on communicating regularly with our families and the wider community regarding what the Board does and how they can get involved.

Early Childhood Education
We will focus on integrating our new preschool program with our 4K and 5K classes to deliver a seamless early childhood program.

Measures of Success
Given the constantly-changing nature of the report cards issued by the state, we will focus on developing our own district-level report card, so that we can identify and report on the outcomes and measures that are most important to the community.

Teacher Development
We will focus on recruiting and retaining amazing teachers, providing them with the training and support they need to continue to grow in their profession.

On growth in enrollment and class sizes:

posted Oct 31, 2016, 8:07 AM by Lisa Laing   [ updated Oct 31, 2016, 8:07 AM ]

This statement was developed at the May 2016 Board meeting:

The Fontana J8 School District welcomes all resident students as well as many students from outside the district who choose Fontana through open enrollment.

Our community values small class sizes. The Board has demonstrated a commitment to small class sizes over many years not just in the lower grades (as evidenced by our participation in the SAGE program), but also in the upper grades. The Board keeps this commitment in mind when determining the number of spaces available for open enrolled students.

We recognize that new housing may attract new families and, as a result, resident enrollment may increase. We welcome new families to the district. The approval of new developments appropriately falls under the jurisdiction of each municipality, and each municipality has a process in place for citizen review and comment before any decisions are made. The Board does not endorse or support specific real estate development projects within the district boundaries.

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