School Board extends time line on three offers

By Tracy Ouellette

SLN Staff

The East Troy School Board has met in closed session several times in recent months to discuss offers to purchase the Chester Byrnes building. The board is allowed to have closed session meetings when negotiating to buy or sell property.

After the Dec. 11 closed session, which followed the regular meeting, the board members said they wanted to update the public on what was happening with the three separate offers to purchase Chester Byrnes.

When the board reconvened back into open session, a motion was made by School Board President Ted Zess and seconded by board member Steve Lambrechts to “extend the offers presently at hand for the Byrnes building until the Jan. 22 board meeting for an update, and a final decision on Feb 12,” according to the unofficial meeting minutes.

The minutes go on to say the board wanted to let the public know “all three offers presently on the table have various advantageous and disadvantages.”

According to the minutes, the acceptance of any of the three offers the board is considering could save the School District about $250,000 in demolition costs, which were part of the facility needs referendum project that is nearing completion.

“Some of the pros and cons include the possibility of the property going on the tax roles vs. civic services vs. the future assurance of the building being kept up. The Board is trying to make the best all around decision for the community,” according to the minutes.

Regular meeting

During the regular School Board meeting Monday night, the board heard a presentation on the Be the Change Jr. Squad at East Troy Middle School.

Eighth-grader Ben Balge told the board how the squad and the annual Courage Retreat for seventh-graders we making a difference in the lives of the kids at the school.

Balge shared his personal experiences with the squad and retreat and how they have helped him with issues in the past and equipped him to help others.

“I’ve been bullied before, it’s not a nice thing,” Balge said. “I took what I learned at Courage Retreat and solved it very quickly … Courage Retreat changed everything for me.”

He touted the efforts of his fellow classmates and Middle School counselor Krista Iserloth in creating a safe place for students to share at the Courage Retreat and in school.

The board members, and District Administrator Chris Hibner, complemented Balge on his presentation and had a few questions for him and Iserloth about how the Courage Retreat was put on and some details of the day.

Setting the calendar

The School Board approved the 2018-19 school year calendar for the district. The big differences in next year’s calendar are the spring break in 2019 will be the last week in March, which is not Easter week, as it usually is.

Hibner said because Easter fall so late in 2019, administration was recommending spring break be the last week in March and holiday breaks be observed on Good Friday, April 19, 2019, and the Monday following Easter, April 22, 2019.

The other change to the schedule was to have all-day teacher in-service days instead of half days. This means there will be fewer in-service days, but the same hours for teachers and administration.

School Board member Martha Bresler, a former teacher in the district, said she would like to see designated “work days” on the calendar for the teachers, especially at the semester break and at year end, to give teachers adequate time for tasks such as grading and classroom set up/break down.

The board discussed the idea, but in the end, with Bresler’s support, the board voted to approve the calendar as is, with Hibner saying administration would set work time within the in-service days as needed.

Bresler also commented that she liked that administration surveyed the teachers and staff before creating the calendar.

“I though it was a great survey and they got a chance to respond,” Bresler said.

District Business Manager Kathy Zwirgzdas said 111 teachers returned the survey, which was “pretty much all of the teachers.”


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