The Lodi School District is in the middle of a three-year School Mental Health Grant. At their Monday night meeting, Tiffany Loken, director of curriculum, updated the Board of Education about the student needs that are being addressed and the steps that are being taken.

Students in the middle school and high school are given a Youth Risk Behavior survey every two years. Loken highlighted some of the 2019 data for 9-12 graders in the district:

46% of high school students report experiencing significant anxiety in the past 12 months.

25% report experiencing prolonged, disruptive sadness in the same time frame.

18% report having intentionally harmed themselves without intending to die.

16% report seriously considering suicide in the past year.

Loken commented that numbers are somewhat higher for female students in all of the above categories. Data results for middle school students are comparable, although generally somewhat higher.

Loken said these numbers are “alarming”, but comparable to area districts.

“Our statistics aren’t any different than Columbia County’s, or Dane County’s or even the state as a whole,” she said.

The district’s goal is to address the social/emotional health of all students. Loken said “It’s not just about supporting students who have significant mental health concerns, it’s how we prevent some of those concerns from happening in the first place. We really wanted to see how we can impact all students. And, how can we better identify students that need support.”

Loken summarized the district’s vision for these efforts as providing a comprehensive, universal social/emotional learning program, so that all students have the mental and emotional wellness to thrive in their home, school and community.

“Lodi is creating policies and procedures that support students who need intervention, training staff to better support students and creating partnerships across the county to better support students,” Loken said.

STEM Academy

In other action, Technology Integrator Tyler Potter described and discussed Lodi potentially offering high school juniors and seniors the option of attending Madison College’s STEM Academy.

If, after sophomore year, a student is firmly committed to pursuing a career in a STEM-related field, Potter said this is the only program in the state right now that will allow a junior and senior to go in the program and get an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school. Students could get their high school diploma and as many as 60 college credits.

A student in the program would go to class each day at Madison College’s Truax campus but would be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities after school. Potter explained that the school district would be responsible for paying the student’s tuition, which is estimated at between $6,500 and $7,000.

Lodi staff was directed to further consider offering this potential instructional program and were asked to provide more details about the potential fiscal impact to the district.

In other business District Administrator Charles Pursell reported that ongoing referendum projects are “running right on budget”. He said some of the weather-related project delays experienced have actually provided a benefit to the district.

The district currently has around $250,000 of additional interest they have earned on the referendum money. Pursell suggested the School Board discuss applying these unused funds toward refurbishing the Performing Arts Center and upgrading technology in the district’s board room.

The Board of Education is also seeking professional assistance to identify a district administrator to replace the retiring Pursell. Members of the board selected two search firms from among the five that submitted RFPs. The board hopes to conduct in-person interviews with representatives of WASB and Don Stevens & Associates later this month.

In addition, area residents are invited to attend the annual meeting for the Lodi School District next Monday night at 7 p.m. in the LGI room at Lodi High School.

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