By Dave Fidlin


Additional staffing resources could be infused into Whitewater Unified School District’s psychologist pool and at-risk programs, based on a proposal unveiled recently.

WUSD administrators discussed a proposed staffing plan for the 2019-20 school year that calls for 13 fleshed out adjustments to the current structure across the district’s elementary, middle and high schools.

Based on the proposal, an additional full-time psychologist could be added into the mix. At WUSD’s most recent School Board meeting, held Feb. 25, administrators asserted WUSD has fewer school psychologists, in terms of full-time equivalency (FTE) counts, compared to surrounding districts.

Two full-time positions also have been proposed for WUSD’s alternative education, or at-risk, programs — one at the high school, the other at the middle school.

Additionally, officials within WUSD’s District Leadership Team (DLT) have proposed a 0.5 FTE position to the high school’s special education program and increasing staffing by 0.25 FTEs in eighth-grade health instruction.

Further plans that have been announced include staffing changes around a so-called inclusionary model for the district’s 4-year-old kindergarten program.

The cursory overview of changes was tentative and is expected to be modified further with more information before the board takes definitive action on WUSD’s overall staffing plan for the year ahead.

District Administrator Mark Elworthy said the goal is to begin sharing proposed plans at this point, “So we have a good head start with this information.”

In terms of funding, several administrators — including Matthew Sylvester-Knudtson, director of business services — said a $392,000 surplus in district funds could be applied to the staffing additions.

The pool of money has been attributed to savings incurred by lower-than-anticipated health insurance costs.

School Board member Jim Stewart said he was concerned about the lack of details attached to the $392,000 dollar figure. Based on past recollections, Stewart said surpluses ran in the range of $50,000 for upcoming budgets.

“To me, that just doesn’t run right because I haven’t seen it before,” Stewart said.

Administrators said they intend to provide more information on how exactly the $392,000 will be applied as planning for the 2019-20 school year budget picks up steam.


In other business

– The WUSD School Board approved calendars for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years with the caveat further tweaks could be incorporated into the documents on an as-needed basis.

Based on the plan in motion, WUSD is set to begin classes in the upcoming school year on Sept. 3 for students in kindergarten to grade 9; high schoolers in grades 10 to 12 will begin classes Sept. 4. Graduation has been set for June 7, 2020.

As for the 2020-21 school year, plans call for beginning classes Sept. 1, 2020, for students in kindergarten to grade 9 and Sept. 2, 2020, for high schoolers in grades 10 to 12. Graduation is slated for June 6, 2021.

– The School Board and administrators briefly discussed the placement of spring break on the calendar and agreed it should remain firmly entrenched in late March, which has been a longstanding practice within the district.


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