The Southern Door School Board entered closed session Monday, April 17, with Superintendent/District Administrator Chris Peterson still on leave. Board president Penny Price said that status did not change after the closed session, which began shortly before 8:30 pm and ended at about 11 pm.
“Mr. Peterson is on leave. That’s all I can say,” Price said in an email reply Monday when asked when the reasons for the leave would be made public.
Invited into the closed session by the board were the project manager and architect who are working on the voter-approved, $14.9 million project for classroom interior remodeling, parking lot expansion, district-office building demolition, and construction of a high-ceilinged, year-round fitness center, bus garage and greenhouse.
“The reason for bringing the construction manager and architect to closed session was to discuss fiscal strategy and bid timeline until it is released publicly,” Price told the Peninsula Pulse via email April 24.
The renovation projects were set to go out for bid, and as of April 17, Miron project manager Luke Destiche said he anticipated a May 10 deadline for bidders to turn in their responses. Price did not respond this week when asked whether the scope of the projects had changed in any way in recent weeks.
Art-Supply Storage and Scheduling Surveys
Prior to the April 17 closed session, elementary school art instructor Barb Shriner-Schmitt said that for months during the planning process for the interior remodeling portion of the voter-approved projects, she had tried to be heard about a need for more storage for the elementary school art supplies. She said her requests were not heard; all she had seen was a drawing of a new shell of a room, with no new storage. She also expressed a need for safe access to the kiln several times a day when it is in use, and at present, it is in a crowded location.
Schriner-Schmitt said some storage space for art supplies in the district was lost during a previous renovation approved by referendum, so the need has now become dire. She said the needs for supplies at the elementary level – cordage, yarn and weaving looms, for starters – are not the same as at the upper grade levels, but the architects’ designs for remodeling the art spaces for the different age groups are a mirror image.
The board applauded high school principal Steve Bousley for efforts distributing student surveys, public surveys and staff surveys about weekly instructional schedules. Bousley said he was pleased that 175 students responded to surveys, and there was also excellent staff participation in surveys about their wishes for the best scheduling for student learning.
Bousley said staff members are looking at various scenarios, in addition to the block schedules Peterson promoted this winter. Earlier in the school year, the board instructed the superintendent to slow down a move to implement a block schedule, in which students would have longer class periods and focus on just a few subjects one day or one quarter, and different ones the next.
“It appears this process is from the bottom up as opposed to the top down,” said board member Janel Veeser, praising Bousley for listening to educators and students.
Board Members Question Athletic Training Program Subscription
Also during the April 17 meeting, board members Veeser and Marissa Norton questioned a bill that they recognized for the first time: $999 per month paid to Green Bay–based ETS as a subscription to an athletic training program. They questioned why the district had entered a contract one year earlier – at an initial cost of $2,500 and $999 per month for two years – without that spending decision ($26,476 over two years) coming before the board.
“This is the first time the board has seen the ETS contract that was signed in May of 2022,” Norton said.
Board president Price asked district business manager Jason Melotte to report back with the threshold for spending beyond which the administration must receive board approval. Price did not say whether Melotte had provided that dollar-figure threshold when the Pulse requested the information April 24.
Curriculum Development, Hate-Speech Policies Delayed
The board was scheduled to have its first reading of several policies, but Price suggested the board delay until after in-depth discussion during a board retreat in May.
Price suggested the delay after Veeser expressed concern with some of the language that appeared to take the approval of curriculum development out of the hands of the board by adding the phrasing, “shall be developed by the district administrator.” Price later expressed concern that she didn’t necessarily think the teaching staff “would have a say if everything was directed by one person.”
Veeser also took exception to a short clause in a proposed anti-hate and harassment policy for students. It pertained to the district’s stance against hate speech or harassment “of other students.” She said the end of that sentence was unnecessary because students should not participate in hate speech or harassment of anyone, whether it pertains to a school visitor, teacher or employee, or a member of the public, on campus or off.
After the closed session, the board approved the retirements of Schriner-Schmitt, grade K-4 art teacher, after 24 years of teaching in the district; as well as Sharon Heinz-Tupa, a middle school English teacher in her 27th year at Southern Door; and David Samuels, a high school integrated science teacher for 33 years.