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New Richmond School District

NEW RICHMOND - The New Richmond School Board held its monthly meeting Monday night, October 18. 

Here is what you need to know:

  • School board members approved a third addendum to the Community Commons Development Agreement with the city to extend its terms for an additional 12 months. The city is exploring the potential for a public private partnership to develop a multi purpose facility including a new library at the Commons location.

  • Board members approved raising the price for a minimum adult lunch to $4.65 and a minimum adult breakfast to $2.56 to meet USDA pricing guidelines effective Tuesday, Oct. 19. 

Board accepts Olson’s resignation

The New Richmond Board of Education has officially accepted the resignation of District Administrator Patrick Olson effective the end of the current school year, June 30.   

In a letter dated Sept. 20, 2021, Olson cited “health, family and new challenges,” as his reasons for moving on.  

“Each time I am posed with the question about a professional area of opportunity, I answer with one word….balance. Twenty years into my educational career and I am still working on this concept. We have all faced levels of adversity in our lifetime. This past year was no exception, as I was challenged with a health setback myself. We don’t always know why we experience what we do, but I am grateful for the journey and appreciate the support I have received from so many wonderful people,” Olson wrote. 

Olson and his wife Holly have three children Drew, Brody and McKinley.

Prior to accepting the position as District Administrator in New Richmond on July 1, 2015, Olson was the superintendent at the Prairie Farm School District in Barron County, Wisconsin. He had previously worked in the New Richmond District teaching sixth-grade social studies as well as coaching junior varsity and varsity boys basketball. 

At the time of his hiring, Olson made clear his passion for the position and the students he was about to lead. 

“I have always had a passion for providing opportunities for students and leadership,” Olson said. “Together those passions turned into opportunities that allowed me to work in a field I love and can give back to students and help them pursue their hopes and dreams.”

Long-term substitute teachers 

As the nationwide shortage of substitute teachers persists, the New Richmond School District continues to try a variety of strategies to compensate. 

According to district data, the number of unfilled positions has ranged from a high of 15 a day to an average of three a day in September with Mondays and Fridays typically requiring the most subs.  

“After COVID we’re now seeing a more rapid decline of people in education. Those that were part of the sub pool, a lot of them got jobs. A lot of people think it’s just a money issue but it’s actually a people issue. There definitely are some subs that are not interested because of COVID,” said District Administrator Patrick Olson.

One likely pool of potential subs, retired teachers, is limited by the “double-dipping” restriction. A retired teacher could potentially lose retirement benefits if they substitute for too many hours. 

“Once they retire, they can only sub so many hours within our school if that is where they retired from. We have a variety of great retirees that want to spend more time in our buildings, but they can’t because of that double dip annuity restriction. They’ve earned it. It’s not double dipping, but legislators through the IRS are at a sticking point. They just can’t understand. When you look at how short we are with subs, would this not account for the need at our level? They just don’t seem to budge,” said Olson.  

The district is hoping to see an influx of teachers into the market following graduation at local colleges in December. In the meantime, the district continues to try to recruit outside using job services like Indeed to find substitute teachers. 

Board members approved a proposal the district used with some success last year to hire three long-term, essentially full-time substitute teachers to be available to the principals at each level, high school, middle school, elementary and special education on a daily basis. As of the meeting, two teachers have been identified and offered contracts which will run through the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year, from Nov. 15, 2021, through Jan. 21, 2022. The district is still in search of a third substitute.     

Levy of $16,995,423 for 2021-2022 

The board approved a levy of $16,995,4223 for the 2021-2022 school year up $100,735 from the 2019-2021 levy a year ago. 

District Director of Fiscal and Building Operations Brian Johnston explained, “The levy did go up slightly from the annual meeting. It’s up $120,000 to almost 17M dollars. It went from a slight decrease to a slight increase.”

Board members approved a total proposed budget for 2021-2022 of $41,299,515.

“The total increase in revenue limit dollars is $687,261 and last year the increase was $1,178,780. The increase is lower because the Legislature did not increase the per pupil amount. The equalization aid for this year increased by $536,223. We will use $555,789 of ESSER II funds to balance the budget,” said Johnston.

Review the budget at: MeetingPacket101821.pdf

UWRF stipends to support teachers

Board members approved a request by high school Principal Tom Wissink to use the $2,000 stipends paid to the high school by the UWRF to support teachers who meet UWRF credential requirements and earn their master’s in a content area that enables them to teach a NRHS/UWRF dual credit course.

UWRF stipends would pay teachers of UWRF dual credit courses a $1,000 stipend per course taught, a $750 tuition reimbursement per year for teachers pursuing their master’s degree leading to teaching a dual credit class at NRHS and $250 that could be put toward the purchase of textbooks and other materials. 

Tuition reimbursement would be contingent on approval by NRHS and district administration to pursue a master’s degree and teach the dual credit course, proof of master’s course completion and passing grade, completion of course/credential requirements and approval by UWRF to teach dual credit courses, and commitment to remain at NRHS and teach the NRHS/UWRF dual credit course for three years. 

The NRHS/UWRF dual credit courses offer several advantages over traditional AP courses making them an increasingly popular choice for NRHS students.   

  • Students earn college and high school credit immediately after successful completion of the course (grade of C or better).  

  • College credits are awarded on an official UWRF transcript.  

  • UW credits easily transfer to colleges and nationally and internationally - and as an equivalent course, not as a general elective. 

  • UWRF tuition is offered at a greatly reduced rate of $100 per credit, compared to $375 per credit for other courses offered on campus.  

  • Students receiving Free and Reduced Lunch are eligible for an even lower rate of $50 per credit. NRHS and the community provide additional scholarship options to cover the remaining cost as needed.  

  • Broadens students exposure and opportunities while in high school by taking college level courses. 

  • Enables students to earn a semester’s worth or more of college credits while in high school, at a reduced rate, putting the student ahead in credits when they enter college and saving the family thousands of dollars.

Tom Lindfors is a western Wisconsin freelance journalist and former Star-Observer reporter. Contact him at tom@lindforsphoto.com

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