Due to COVID19, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has suspended school report card reporting for the 2019-20 school year. The most recent data for the state report card is from November 2019 for the 2018-19 year where Germantown schools scored 80.5% or Exceeds Expectations, which is a tremendous improvement over the prior year. A testament to the hard work of our educators, students and parents;
US News & World Report 2020 Best High Schools Report ranked Germantown High School as 20th in the state out of 453 schools in Wisconsin and 816 Nationally out of 17,792 schools-- reflected through the outstanding ACT scores and college/career readiness activities;
We continue, even in this time of Covid19 to have high levels of participation in extracurricular academic, arts, and athletic activities. Previous year's data reflects 79% participation in Germantown whereas the State average was in the range of 35%; and,
We maintain a consistently high graduation rate, being 98% for this past school year.
Ongoing Work - Over the past 5 years, summits were held bringing together the community, staff, and Board to evaluate what attributes/characteristics/ skills we believe students need in this present day society to leave our institution poised for whatever path they opt to pursue. "The Germantown Way" began being articulated, outlining actions necessary to support that success. This work is ever evolving and we continually see innovative ways in which our educators adapt content in a manner where it can be applied to a topic of interest to the student, thus fostering higher engagement and meaningful learning experiences.
In Spring when Covid19 brought about the statewide shutdown, our District pivoted within about a week's time to fully virtual. Though it was an extremely challenging time, filled will hurdles and frustration, our staff and community came together to see the year through up to our normal end date. Valuable lessons were learned from those challenges which have served to positively impact our delivery for this school year.
In Person Graduation Ceremonies ~ With the ever changing large group gathering restrictions, graduation for the Class of 2020 found itself in limbo and we were pleased to finally hold the commencement ceremony in July as a socially distanced event in Datka stadium. For those classmates joining the Armed Forces who would no longer have been present for the July event, a special distanced ceremony was held in June at the Performing Arts Center to honor their service to our nation.
Fall 2020 - The Board took action to have Elementary 5 days in person or elect virtual instruction. Kennedy Middle School adopted an AA/BB schedule as well as the option for virtual. Germantown High School adopted an AB schedule with a catchall day at regular intervals to allow for in person opportunities for those who opted virtual or needed specialized assistance. This plan, though difficult on families with children at multiple schools, proved to work out well in minimizing the disruption of excessive quarantines during first semester.
Spring 2021 - The Board has taken action to bring Kennedy Middle and the High School back to 5 days in person at the start of second semester pending no significant Covid19 developments, while still allowing families the option to elect virtual instruction. We believe that from what was demonstrated this fall, we can readily pivot between in person and virtual should case numbers climb within a grade or school.
$100M investment in facilities including: the $84M Referendum for improvements to every school in the District, an expansion wing at Rockfield and Amy Belle Elementary schools, safer additional parking for MacArthur, $1.2M Tech Ed upgrade at the High School and an ACT32 Energy saving project to promote energy efficiencies districtwide.
In a climate of ever changing safety needs, we applied for and received $332K for enhancements throughout the district. We also added a second school resource officer, so we are now staffed at both GHS and KMS.
COVID19 precautions were implemented involving updates to cleaning products being used throughout our facilities, as well as scheduled cleaning activities. Hand sanitizer stations were added, along with barriers where appropriate, modification to furniture arrangement, and signage throughout of tips/reminders of Covid19 hygiene steps.
COVID19 EXPENSE TRACKING - our Business Administrator in concert with Human Resources has compiled a tracker as to specific expenses the district is incurring as a result of Covid19 and will be keeping watch of any relief programs that may defray these costs.
The Board has been committed to fiscally responsible actions and has maintained a balanced budget which in recent years has been an increasingly difficult task.
As part of our Board goals, we aimed to maintain a fund balance of 12% of our overall operating budget, as well as maintain our Moody's Aa1 bond rating.
The Board elected to deviate from our goal of maintaining the 12% fund balance as there were projects outside of the referendum that we felt needed to be addressed (without property tax impact) which provided valuable enhancements for our students and community. In doing so, in the near term it can impact our bond rating and does increase our short term borrowing needs in the Fall until property taxes are received in January (normal borrowing due to timing of budget year in relation to receipt of major revenue source). As indicated below, we are taking action on restoring Fund Balance to the board goal level.
Capital Improvement Trust Fund (Fund 46) ~ Action was taken at the 12/21/20 board meeting to establish Fund 46 which will be a savings account for future improvements. In doing so, it will allow for maintaining the investments just made to facilities over the long term, while avoiding a negative impact to our state aid.
Fund Balance Restoration Plan ~ A draft plan of action is underway to restore Fund Balance back to our board goal level while maintaining a balanced budget. At the 12/21/20 meeting, the Board received the outline of a 4 year proposal for increasing fund balance by $6M. In January 2021, we will receive a prioritized list from Administration of actions we can begin undertaking toward that goal.
Additional Revenue Sources - in 2021 we will begin exploration of additional revenue through avenues such as expanding open enrollment opportunities, creation of a Virtual Charter School, or adding 4 yr kindergarten.
As Board Vice President, I have chaired the Personnel Committee throughout my service on the board. As an offshoot of my personnel responsibilities, I chaired the Alternative Compensation Committee which was comprised of 2 Board Colleagues, Administration, Union Leadership, and Educators. This group was tasked with revamping the legacy compensation model to bring it forward to a goal oriented, financially sustainable model. Through great collaboration, we adopted a new model achieving both aims. As we now have a new Business Administrator in place, we will be looking to do a comprehensive review of the model and look for opportunities for refinement.
I currently chair the Insurance Committee and have served as a committee member for most of my board service. With the tools provided under ACT 10, we were able to see dramatic savings through the District having control over vendor and plan selections. We have gone to bid in most years to ensure we are receiving competitive pricing for the plans we provide.
Other committee service includes: Union Negotiations, Finance, Curriculum/Standards and Policy
Community Service - Over the years, I've had the pleasure of meeting with Boy Scouts in Troop 80 to discuss community service for fulfillment of their Citizen in the Community merit badge. In our interview we would discuss a variety of topics such as how a campaign is run, what's entailed in being an elected official, types of issues facing the board, how decisions are made and how they might become involved in their community.