SASD: Board opposes proposed referendum rule changes

For public school boards like Stoughton’s, there has not been a plethora of positive news coming out of Madison over the last several years. 

Monday, the Stoughton school board decided to craft a letter to state legislators to share their opposition to the most recent education funding proposal, which would put limits on school districts’ ability to hold referendums.

The changes, which are proposed in Assembly Bill 481 and Senate Bill 355, would prohibit school districts from going to referendum within two years of a failed ballot measure and would limit the dates on which districts could hold referendums.

“That could be devastating,” board vice president Donna Tarpinian said. “Ninety percent of our general fund is under the revenue cap, so this is really important to us.” 


Stoughton High School hosts CSI class for biotech students

Photos submitted. SHS junior Caleb Kittleson is shown how to use a camera to document evidence by Detective Brandon Hill of the Stoughton Police Department.

Stoughton High School's biotechnology students practiced gathering and analyzing forensic evidence during a simulation organized by a pair of Stoughton Police Department detectives earlier this month.

Detectives Al Adams and Brandon Hill helped convert the SHS multipurpose room into a mock crime scene that challenged students to gather evidence with various tools and identify a suspect.

One of the units being studied in the biotechnology class is the science of forensics, and the detectives' visit provided a real-world glimpse into that work, said SHS School to Career coordinator Cindy Vaughn.


Photos: SHS presents 'Footloose: the musical' 2015

Stoughton High School Performing Arts presented “Footloose” last weekend, Oct. 16-18. The show tells the story of Ren McCormack (Issac Eugster), a teenager who moves with his mother to small town that prohibits dancing. That doesn’t work for McCormack, who previously lived in Chicago, and he slowly gets others in the town to line up behind him in support of dancing.


Fueling up at River Bluff

River Bluff Middle Schoolers are getting more healthy foods to “fuel” them up, thanks to a grant funded in part by the National Football League (NFL). 

River Bluff physical education teacher Tom Murray recently landed a $1,000 grant through the “Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative,” an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the NFL and National Dairy Council (NDC), with additional partnership support from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

River Bluff staff will use the grant money to provide healthy foods during “212 Degrees of Engagement Days” and promote physical fitness activities. District director of community relations Derek Spellman said the program, which started last year, is a monthly program where students choose from more than two dozen activities to engage in. 


i-Create program engages Kegonsa students

Photos by Scott De Laruelle. Kegonsa Elementary School student Garrison Furseth gets ready to drop his marble during an “i-Create” session at the school Friday, in which kids used cardboard in creative ways to make everything from “houses” to games.

Schoolchildren generally look forward to Fridays because of the upcoming weekend, but Kegonsa Elementary students now have an extra reason to look forward to the final day of the school week. 

New at the school this year is “i-Create,” a weekly program designed for students to pursue topics of interest and engage in problem-solving, using a wide variety of materials, not the least of which is their own imagination. 

Students in kindergarten through fifth-grade meet at least once a week on Fridays to build with recyclable materials, do computer coding, and use Legos, Spirographs, dominoes, marble runs and a multitude of materials to be creative on their own and in small groups. The goal is to foster the ability to think, innovate and create, said Kegonsa principal Don Charpentier, who came up with the idea after observing similar programs in other schools. 


Kegonsa Walk-a-Thon is Friday

Kegonsa Elementary students are walking to raise money for technology at their school, and are inviting people to join in the effort, said Kegonsa principal Don Charpentier. Students and staff will walk from the school to the fire station and back, weather permitting. 

“Instead of selling wrapping paper and overpriced items, we thought it would just be better to have families, grandparents and relatives donate directly to the school,” he said. 

Another reason for the fundraiser is to help kids understand the importance of personally getting involved. 


Chance encounter nets donations to area schools

Photos submitted. St. Ann School students display a note of thanks to the Prone Family Foundation for matching $10,000 recently raised for the Monsignor Healy St. Ann School Scholarship Fund.

Stoughton residents are well-known for being neighborly and helping each other, and apparently that friendliness extends all the way to Stoughton, Mass. 

Thanks to the considerable generosity of “Yankee” Stoughtonite Steve Prone and his late uncle, Joseph, area schoolchildren will reap the benefits from a chance encounter between two men from the same town, but different states. 

It all started over the summer, when Jim Hoogerwerf, grandfather of St. Ann’s Catholic School student Kimberly Clark, struck up a friendship with Steve Prone during a cruise to Turkey and Greece. By chance, both men and their wives kept ending up in the same groups together as they traveled around, and they got to know each other a bit. 


St. Ann: Higher calling

In an email to the Hub, St. Ann's principal Kara Roisum said for the past several years, families have come to her wanting to send their children to St. Ann’s but unable to afford the tuition. She said it was always the Sisters of Nazareth's mission to never deprive a child of an education for financial reasons, and said both she and parish pastor Father Randy Budnar have adopted that belief.

“Therefore, we have gladly accepted these families, trusting that God will figure out the means to allow us to continue the mission,” Roisum said. “So although some may just call this story a coincidence, I like to think there was something more divine at work.”

The donation will go toward the school’s Monsignor Healy Scholarship Fund, she said, with hopes that “this is only the beginning” of efforts to build a school scholarship fund.  


Decision looms on old high school

Board member Joe Freye said the facilities committee is evaluating what to do with the former Stoughton High School “1892 building,” with hopes to come to a decision by spring. He said rehabilitating or razing the building are possible options, noting that renovating the building could cost nearly $5 million. The building suffered significant water damage from a broken pipe last winter. 

District superintendent Tim Onsager said a district-wide community survey that is possibly in the works for spring would include questions about the 1892 building, and what they would like done with it. 

Pickett said some money left over from a $335,000 referendum in 2001 specifically on that building could be used to renovate the building. She said some of the money had been used in the past for maintenance, as the building was never renovated.


Enrollment slightly down

With the state’s official student “head count” completed in the public schools, enrollment is slightly down at the Stoughton Area School District, though the decline is less than in previous years. 

The district has 3,180 students for the 2015-16 school year, down 28 students from last year’s mark of 3,208, district director of business services Erica Pickett told board members Monday night. 

She said a “concerning” number is the district’s 4K class is the lowest – by far – among its 14 classes, down 22 students from last year, though she noted that state 4K numbers are low this year. 

“Not sure what that means, long-term,” Pickett said. “Hopefully, we can keep our fingers crossed that we’re seeing some potential growth within our existing grade levels.” 


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