Stoughton Area School District searching for solutions

With several significant problems to solve in the coming years, including rapidly declining enrollment, looming budget deficits and n historic-but-aging “1892 building,” the Stoughton Area School District is looking for some ideas. 

Though no vote was taken at Monday night’s meeting, school board members targeted this fall for a community survey to help them answer some pressing questions that could affect the district and area for some time. They had considered trying to get something out in spring, but after a brief discussion, the consensus seemed to be that would be rushing. 


Public school open enrollment starts Feb. 1 for 2016-17 school year

Wisconsin’s public school open enrollment application period, which allows parents to send their children to any public school district in the state, runs from Feb. 1 to April 29 for the upcoming 2016‑17 school year.

Traditionally, children in Wisconsin are assigned to public school districts based on the location of their parents’ home.

The state’s open enrollment program is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and began in the 1998-99 school year with 2,464 students transferring from their home district to a nonresident district, according to a DPI press release. The program has grown over the years, with 53,188 students transferring during the 2014-15 school year.


Stoughton Area School District adds kindergarten class to reduce numbers

Photos by Derek Spellman. Chelsey Hunt, Fox Prairie’s new kindergarten teacher, reads to her students Monday morning.

Shifting students from one classroom to another in the middle of the year isn’t ideal, but district officials decided it was the best way to meet Fox Prairie Elementary School students’ needs. 

The district hired Chelsey Hunt as a new kindergarten teacher last week, and her first day with her new class was Monday. Her addition, and the creation of a fourth kindergarten class at the school, brings kindergarten sizes there down from around 23 to 17 students per room. 

In an email to the Hub, district director of community relations Derek Spellman said district officials have been working on the situation at Fox Prairie “since Day 1” of this school year, as its kindergarten class this year is unusually large. The three classes had 22, 23 and 24 students at the beginning of the year, which is more than the district’s target of 22 children per class. 


Stoughton High School graduates eligible for scholarships

Stoughton High School graduates are among those from 10 high schools across the state eligible for the annual Edwin E. and Janet L. Bryan Foundation Inc. academic scholarships.

The scholarships are available in amounts up to $12,000 each. There will be $500,00 in scholarship awards distributed for the 2016-17 school year, according to a press release this week from Scholarship America. 

Applicants must be post-secondary undergraduate students or high school graduates with at least a high school diploma or GED. Eligible students must plan to enroll, or currently be enrolled, as a part-time or full-time undergraduate student at an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational/technical school for the 2016-17 school year. 

The application deadline is Tuesday, March 15. 


New concealed carry law proposed at state level

A proposed state law would allow the carrying of concealed weapons on school grounds but would allow school districts to prohibit them inside school buildings.

Wisconsin does not currently allow weapons on school grounds, and the bill’s co-authors said it would make Wisconsin’s law “compatible with federal law” by “clarifying the law about concealed carry within a school zone.”

On Jan. 13, state Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and co-author state Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) introduced the Wisconsin School Zone Empowerment Act, which the lawmakers said in a press release will make Wisconsin’s law “compatible with federal law.”

“Simultaneously, it grants each school district the authority to establish policy about concealed-carry within school buildings,” Lazich said.


Test scores in Stoughton Area School District top most state averages

While it was the only year they will have to take the “Badger Exam,” students in the Stoughton Area School District fared better than their state counterparts last year in every category except one. 

SASD juniors also outscored the state average in last year’s ACT test, the first taken by all public high school juniors in Wisconsin.

District director of curriculum Judy Singletary talked at a Jan. 18 school board meeting about the recently published results of last year’s tests. Scores were sent to school districts and parents during the summer but were publicly embargoed until last week. 

SASD students in third through eighth grade took the English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics components of the Badger Exam. The test was initially tied to the Common Core State Standards but was repealed during last summer’s legislative session, as the standards have recently become politicized. 


Stoughton Area School District: Teachers present on innovation grants

Teachers spoke for more than an hour during Monday’s Stoughton Area School Board meeting about how they are using their innovation grants in their classrooms. Educators were excited about how the projects have been going so far. 

The $31,700 in grants, split among 13 educators in five buildings, were announced last May. It was the second year the district awarded the grants, budgeted from the district’s general fund to “provide seed money for an action research study or to develop an innovative idea that aligns to the District’s Strategic Plan put together by the community,” according to the district. 

By far the largest grant  – $10,400 – went to Kegonsa’s Tina Stokes to help update the learning environments of the school’s classrooms, creating more collaborative learning spaces. 


Deficits loom in long-term projections for Stoughton Area School District

While things are looking sound financially for the Stoughton Area School District for the next couple of years, the longer-term outlook is a growing budget deficit.

That was the message at Monday’s Finance committee meeting, where SASD director of business services Erica Pickett provided some news on this year’s budget, as well as some long-term projections. The presentation formally updated board members on the district’s financial situation for the first time since budget talks concluded in November. 

Pickett said the district each year conducts a budget review for the first half of the fiscal year, with a goal to be within 2 percent of the annual budget at that time. She said the district has been successful in meeting that goal “for years,” and she expects that goal will again be met this year. 


Stoughton High School students helping to write history

Photos by Samantha Christian. SHS senior Dustin Hudson looks up photos of the Iwo Jima flag raising for the veterans project.

For most high school students, learning about history can be a very one-sided process – digesting information from books, videos and Internet searches. 

But a group of Stoughton High School students is taking a very different approach to history this year – they are helping to create it. 

Around 15 students in the SHS history/archaeology club are writing up dozens of historical vignettes that will be placed on pillars of the planned Stoughton Area Veterans Memorial Park. In the past few months, they’ve been busy researching 76 possible titles, of which the the Stoughton Area Veterans Memorial Park committee will select 48 to be engraved on the dozen pillars, said committee member Bud Erickson.


Girls make Lego engine at Cummins

Photo submitted. Cummins Inc. employees help SASD Fab Lab students build a model QSK95 engine as a way to help promote science, technology, engineering and math.

More than 30 girls constructed a QSK95 engine using just Legos with help from Cummins Emission Solutions and Cummins Filtration. The event was part of Stoughton’s ongoing efforts to increase interest, diversity and access in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM. 

“We want to show girls that engineering is all around them,” Alyssa Arend, a CES chemical engineer, said in a news release. “One-on-one interaction with Cummins engineers provides a great opportunity to discuss girls’ interests and what engineering means as a career.”

Cummins employees are not only leading Lego builds, but they are also engaging with local students through the Stoughton Area School District’s Fab Lab.


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