With only seven weeks left in the 2016-2017 school year, school district officials are extremely busy preparing for next year. Not only is the school district welcoming two new members to the Board of Education, but school administrators are also busy filling a variety of staff vacancies.
In a school district the size of the School District of the Menomonie Area, there will always be a few vacancies caused by retirements, the natural movement of staff members, or other more unique reasons. For the 2017-2018 school year, we will also have a few additional vacancies to fill based on the staffing plan that was approved by the school board on Monday, April 10.
Based on various enrollment data such as class sizes and special education caseloads, and input from staff, parents, and other school district stakeholders, the administrative team recommended to the Board a staffing plan that adds or reallocates several positions for the 2017-2018 school year. The district will operate next year with an additional special education teacher at Menomonie High School, as well as at Wakanda and River Heights elementary schools. A behavior specialist and a teacher for English Language Learners (ELL) will also be hired to support students and staff across the school district.
Also, in the area of pupil services, a part-time school counselor position will be extended to full time, and a school social worker position will be reallocated in order to add an additional school psychologist to the staff funded by special education budget. Based on the changing needs of our students and staff, the primary roles of the position, and requirements that dictate how special education funding should be used, replacing the school social worker position with a school psychologist will be a better fit for our school district. We are hopeful, however, that the legislature will support the governor’s budget proposal to provide additional funds for allowing schools to add more traditional school social worker services, even though the amount of possible funding and the capacity for that type of position remains to be seen.
Other approved staffing additions include a teacher to provide library lessons at the elementary level, a computer technician to support the upcoming 1:1 initiative, an aide to provide music lessons at the middle school level, and extending a part-time teaching position to full time in order to reduce some high class sizes at Menomonie High School. The school district is also offering to work with the City of Menomonie to add a community-based school liaison officer to serve students and staff at the elementary and middle levels, as well as at the parochial and rural schools in our school district. Contrary to what some might suggest, the primary purposes of this position would be to provide support with school safety measures, crime prevention, and the development of positive relationships with students, parents, staff, and community members.
Should school families or community stakeholders have any questions or concerns about the 2017-2018 SDMA staffing plan or anything else in our school district, I invite you to visit me at the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue, or contact me at 715-232-1642. More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (www.sdmaonline.com), and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter (www.twitter.com/sdmaonline) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/menomonie.schools)