Two letters received from district residents before the Oct. 11 Sun Prairie School Board meeting were not read aloud because of the board’s return to in-person meetings in the library at Sun Prairie East High School, 888 Grove St.

Instead, the letters were placed on file and left in BoardDocs (you can read them online with this story at sunprairiestar.com).

The first was a letter from Amy Kohl expressing disappointment with the board’s Sept. 27 decision about unusually hazardous traffic areas: “I am disappointed to learn of the decision to change bussing to [Prairie View Middle School] for students on the north side of Highway 19. The intersection of Highway 19 and Thompson Road is absolutely hazardous!”

“It is concerning to me (as an adult) to approach this intersection (walking or biking) with the volume of traffic and the speed at which traffic travels. The assessment by TADI takes into account the information provided on paper but does not necessarily know what happens in day-to-day life,” Kohl wrote.

“The Board of Education should absolutely reconsider this decision. It would be horrible if even one student was injured (or worse) when crossing at this intersection to get to school! I understand the savings in transportation costs, but student safety should never be jeopardized in order to save a few dollars on bus costs. If parents knew this change was being considered, they would have submitted comments ahead of the decision. Crossing guards are a MUST if you implement this change!”

Ed Witkiewicz said he appreciated opportunities in the SPASD but suggested teachers and staffers should not put up with being battery or sexual assault victims. “They need to be given the power to actually impose respect inducing discipline on kids so this nonsense stops and the kids know if they participate in these “challenges”, they will have to endure real consequences. I fear for teachers for the next, even more shocking, “challenge” if these last two are not met with a unified front of fierce opposition from the school board, school district central office, principals and teachers, School resource officers, and district attorney’s office.”

Witkiewicz said he supports “suspension, expulsion, criminal charges” instead of strongly worded emails to parents to get kids to behave in schools.

College program applications OK’d

Acting on a recommendation from Director of Secondary Teaching, Learning and Equity Sarah Chaja-Clardy, the board approved Early College Credit Program and Start College Now Program applications.

In a report to the board, Chaja-Clardy wrote that 2017 Wisconsin Act 59 eliminated the Course Options and Youth Options programs. The Youth Options statute, 118.55, was renamed the Early College Credit Program. A separate statute, 38.12(14), created the Start College Now Program.

State law specifies that a pupil who intends to enroll in an institution of higher education must notify the board of that intention no later than Oct. 1 if the pupil intends to enroll in the spring semester and no later than March 1 if the pupil intends to enroll in the fall semester.

The board/designee will then notify the pupil of its determination(s), in writing, before the beginning of the semester in which the pupil will be enrolled. Applications for either program are processed through the student’s high school counselor.

A course may be denied if it has been determined that Sun Prairie Area School District offers a comparable course, as outlined in Policies IGCE, IGCF, and Wisconsin State Statutes 38.12(14) and 118.55. The district is billed for the tuition once the student registers and begins the course. The tuition fees and textbooks are budgeted within the 2021-22 Secondary Teaching, Learning and Equity Department’s budget. According to Chaja-Clardy, the district will continue to monitor student interest and costs.

The majority of students are participating in courses that range from 3 to 4 credit hours.

The current cost to the district per credit hour for courses taken at UW-Madison is $128.78. Madison College courses are currently assessed at $187.85 per credit hour. The district is responsible for 75% of the University of Wisconsin courses, hence the discrepancy in credit hour costs.

For example, during the 2019-20 School Year, Early College Credit/Start College Now cost the district $4,044.13. During the 2020-21 School Year, Early College Credit/Start College Now cost the district $29,238.03.

Parents or the pupil must pay incidental costs associated with the courses, equipment or tools, and if the pupil gets a failing grade, must reimburse the district for the cost of the course.

Get an owl? That’s a hoot!

During the board’s meeting de-briefing, Board Governance Officer Tom Weber praised the short meeting, but told the board it was difficult to hear the board while listening to the meeting virtually.

Both Weber and Board Treasurer Dave Hoekstra attended the meeting virtually.

Weber suggested the district investigate the purchase of an OWL — not the animal, but a piece of equipment that provides a 360 degree camera and microphone. The piece of equipment records sound and video evenly when meeting participants are seated in a semi-circle the way they were Monday night.

“OK,” Board Clerk Carol Albright replied, “that’s a hoot.”

Some board members groaned while others chuckled.

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