A nearly 20-year-old debate over when Wisconsin schools can start their fall classes is being revived again. La Crosse Superintendent Randy Nelson wants the state Legislature to end the requirement that schools wait until September first to start their new terms. To help force the issue, 26 La Crosse area school districts plan to ask for waivers, so that by 2015, they can start in mid-August. An area senator, Democrat Kathleen Vinehout, has proposed ending the September start date as an amendment to a bill that’s up for state Senate approval today. That bill would end the 180-day requirement for schools to be in session — though they would still have quotas for classroom hours. Vinehout said she was told by Senate Education chairman Luther Olsen that the entire bill would die if her measure was included. The La Crosse Tribune notes that Olsen’s district includes Wisconsin Dells — where business leaders first urged former Governor Tommy Thompson in the mid-1990′s to require a later school starting date, so they could keep their summer help through Labor Day. Thompson allowed schools to open in August with local input — but so many schools did it, that former Governor Scott McCallum locked the barn door in 2001 and made it much harder to get waivers to open in August.
Wisconsin public schools would no longer have to hold 180 days of classes each year, under a bill to be considered by the state Senate today. Classes would still have to be held for certain numbers of hours — but schools could hold longer days to get those hours in. The issue came to the forefront in January, when most Wisconsin schools were closed for at least four days due to the coldest winter in two decades. Small-town schools say it would also be a big cost-saver for them, because it would save on busing costs over land areas which are much larger than bigger-city school districts. Jerry Fiene of the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance says even one fewer class day would save a rural district thousands of dollars in busing costs. He also said fewer school days during the coldest months could save thousands for cash-strapped schools in utility bills. The bill would change the state’s funding system for summer courses, and create funding for new interim courses. The state Department of Public Instruction supports the measure. Republican Senate Education Committee chair Luther Olsen proposed the bill, and reports say at least a few Democrats support it.
Just after 11 AM Monday, the Rusk County Sheriff’s Department investigated a two vehicle accident on Highway 8 East of Bruce near Whiskey Dicks. According to a report, a male subject stopped suddenly so he wouldn’t miss his driveway turn in. A second vehicle following the first vehicle driven by a male subject reportedly could not stop fast enough to avoid a collision. The driver of the second vehicle will be cited for following too closely. The Bruce ambulance responded but no transport was reported.
A subject Monday afternoon, came to the LEC to report fraudulent charges made to their debit card. There were reportedly 5 charges attempted so far and one had gone through their bank. The case is under investigation.
The selection committee for the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Scholarship and Fellowship Program has announced recipients of the 2014 Herb Kohl Foundation awards for students and teachers. The $1,000 awards are being made to 100 teachers, their schools, and 187 graduating high school students. Excellence Scholarship recipients have demonstrated excellence in the academic arena and high motivation to achieve, have displayed a broad range of activity and leadership outside the academic setting, and have shown strong promise for succeeding in college and beyond. Fellowship recipients are chosen for their superior ability to inspire a love of learning in their students, their ability to motivate others, and for their leadership and service within and outside the classroom. Initiative Scholarship recipients, chosen by their schools, have demonstrated exceptional initiative in the classroom and have shown strong promise for succeeding in college and beyond, but have not yet received other academic-based scholarships. In our area, Lisa Sturzl, teacher in the Bruce Middle School was chosen has a Fellowship recipient. A regional recognition luncheon honoring the recipients will be held on Sunday March 23rd at Eau Claire North High School.