BOE Talks Timeline

NEW BREMEN — New Bremen Board of Education members will move forward by looking at scheduling options for community meetings about the November bond issue, as numbers on the cost of a new building may come in as early as next week.

Board member Mandy Niekamp said she believed it would be a good idea to get started with community feedback and get the issue on the ballot for November, then if community feedback is completely negative, there would be time to take the issue off the ballot.

“We appreciate that community input,” Superintendent Howard Overman said.

Niekamp said getting the bond passed would mean taking advantage of low interest rates.

In a meeting on March 20, two options were discussed, along with the feasibility of keeping a beloved 1970s-era gym that board members said the community has apparently shown concern for in the past.

The two possible sites as top choices for building are adding at the current location, but building on what is now a parking lot, or building at the current high school.

A meeting with Freytag is planned for Friday to discuss the program of requirements that must be met, and different building options so that funding can be set.

While originally funding was at 49 percent funded by state and 51 funded as a local match, new estimates put the state funding at approximately one third of the project, because the state funding is only for a kindergarten through sixth grade; any facilities for the seventh and eighth-grade students are not covered, and are considered a locally funded initiative.

The total funding coming from the state for the elementary school building is estimated at $7.2 million, and Overman said it would probably not exceed that amount, though it might be less.

The board agreed to continue on the timeline.

In other business, board members received a simulation of what new district report cards would look like for New Bremen using this year’s information as the example.

While New Bremen received its 13th “Excellent” rating in a row, the simulation showed the district in terms of letter grades, and Overman pointed out there were many “C” grades. Showing growth from year to year, he said, will be considered average under the new system.

Where the district is brought down in its rating, he said, was in the area of students with disabilities.

“We don’t seem to be able to close that gap,” he said.

While the economically disadvantaged students do very well, work to bring the special education students up to state standards is still underway. The template of the grade card, he said, had already changed three times, so what board members received was simply an example.

“It’s a moving target,” he said of the new standards. “Do we want them to do better than average? Yes.”

Principal Diane Kramer reported to the board that after reviewing available textbooks for reading, the textbook committee opted for the most rigorous textbook available that was focused on the Common Core standards.

“I’m very excited about it,” she said, adding that the textbooks would ask the students to do more thinking by applying skills learned to do cold readings of texts.

The board moved to adjourn into executive session to discuss personnel issues. No action was taken when board members resumed regular session.