At an otherwise quiet Lake Mills Board of Education meeting Monday night community members asked the board to consider a community climate survey by the end of 2020 to gauge the feelings of the community regarding issues of racial justice, bullying and more.
“I’m asking you to develop a survey for our students and families to better understand the climate of the school district,” said Andrea Graham, during public comment. “We have had a tough few months in our community. There have been topics and events that have brought common ground and understanding, but there have also been events that have divided our community.”
She said there have been passionate debates at the local and state level.
“You have a responsibility to unite and lead by example,” she said. “I worry that in these divisive times not all voices are heard.”
Megan Ruplinger also voiced her support for the climate survey.
“I’ve lived in Lake Mills for just over six years and until this moment I never really noticed much of a division, but it’s become very apparent this summer that people have a lot of really strong feelings right now.”
Graham and Ruplinger agreed only the people willing and comfortable speaking out are being heard.
“If we can send out a survey about how you feel about sending your child to school during COVID we can send out a climate survey,” Ruplinger said.
Dr. Tonya Olson, district administrator said they could look at a climate survey as a part of the upcoming strategic planning.
“For people who don’t participate in the strategic planning process it would provide a little bit of a voice as well,” she said. “I will start gathering some data.”
Olson addressed a good start to the school year last week.
“It was so great to walk around that first day,” she said, visiting the schools. “Seeing all those kids in there selecting books already on the first day of school to read and seeing teachers go through procedures, it felt really nice. Our teachers have gone above and beyond. They’ve planned for things they don’t teach you in college.”
She said there is a tent at the high school to be used for outdoor classes and lunches.
“Any excuse to get the kids outdoors,” she said.
Olson said the Link Crew at Lake Mills High School was able to make connections with 127 new students out of 143.
“Even our students are going above and beyond to make the new kids feel welcome and make those transitions easier.”
In other business the board:
— Approved a consent agenda.
— Approved the employee handbook addendum concerning pandemic workplace protocols.
— Approved a line of credit in case of emergency for the district.
— Approved $1,916 in gifts to the district including school supplies and masks.