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Local schools receive $1.1 million in federal funds

The Waupaca School District will receive $654,000 in federal money as its share of the Education Jobs Fund.

Waupaca District Administrator Dave Poeschl told the school board Thursday, Aug. 26, that the funds will pay for the full-time equivalent (FTE) of four teaching positions and two instructional aides.

Poeschl said $379,000 will be allocated for the 2010-11 school year, leaving about $275,000 that must be spent by September 2012.

According to federal guidelines, Education Jobs Fund money is to be used for compensation and benefits or support services necessary to retain existing education employees, recall or rehire former education employees or hire new education employees.

The federal money will be used at Waupaca’s elementary schools to create 1.5 FTE teaching positions. Cheryl Coe will move from a part-time position to become a full-time elementary literacy coach.

Andrea Fossum-Grall and Elizabeth Krcmar will each take on additional half-time positions to be elementary math coaches.

At Waupaca Middle School, two FTE instructional aides will be added.

“We have large classroom sizes in the sixth grade,” Poeschl said, noting that there are an average of 29 students per classroom in the sixth grade. This compares to the fifth grade where the average number of students in the classroom is 25.

Poeschl said one of the new instructional positions will go to Jennifer Miller, who was among the aides that had been laid off. The second position has been posted.

At the high school, two FTE teaching positions have been added.

Shannon Anderson, who was laid off as an English teacher last year, has been asked to return as a writing coach this year.

“The writing coach will be going into the classrooms to help teachers teach writing in their curricular areas,” Poeschl said. “It could be any subject, not just language arts.”

Poeschl said the coaches work with students in the other teachers’ classrooms, with the focus on coaching the teachers in the areas of writing and math where the students will be tested. He added that the coaches will not be sitting in a classroom waiting for study hall students to come to them.

A math coaching position will also be added at the high school. That position has not been filled yet.

“We’re posting that position. It will take someone with special talents to do the job,” Poeschl said.

The district is also increasing its school psychologists from 2 to 2.5 FTE positions.

Poeschl said two of the district’s psychologists are having their hours increased from 0.5 to 0.75 FTE positions. He noted that the district had significantly cut the hours of Jenny Gross when it budgeted for just two FTE positions, but her co-worker, Sid Hammond, volunteered to take some of her job cut.

“It gives the district more flexibility in scheduling,” Poeschl said.

The district will also restore approximately 62 days in additional day contracts.

While most teachers are contracted to work 180 school days with eight in-service days or paid holidays, some staff, such as librarians, tech ed and counselors, work two to five days in addition to the regular contract.

“The additional days were taken away due to budget considerations,” Poeschl said. “They’re being restored because the money is available and the work is necessary.”

When asked whether more of the teachers who were laid off could be returned, Poeschl said many of the teachers being hired with the federal money had been laid off.

He singled out Anderson as someone that the district recognizes as an excellent writing teacher, with teaching experience at the university level, who will contribute to the district’s overall goals.

“To call a person back in an area where there’s less need would be an inappropriate use of the monies,” Poeschl said. “We believe this is an appropriate use of the fnds. We’re adding value in the areas of the district that are being measured by the state exams.”

Wega-Fremont schools

Dr. F. James Harlan, district administrator, said the Weyauwega-Fremont School District will receive $274,000.

The W-F district will use those funds to defray labor costs already in place, which is permissible, he said.

Harlan’s initial projection was that there would be an approximately $400,000 shortfall in the 2010-11 budget. The $274,000 will be put toward that projected shortfall.

“I predict that now, with the help of this, I will be able to construct a budget that will be balanced for 2010-11,” Harlan said.

He said the district is grateful for the funds and that the W-F School District is using the funds this way because it is “one-time money.”

Harlan said it would be foolish to assume that the district will have such funds down the road and that using it this year to hire new staff would compound future budget issues.

Iola-Scandy schools

The Iola-Scandinavia School District will receive $184,000 from the Education Jobs Fund.

As of last week, the district has rehired a half-time 4-year-old kindergarten teacher who was laid off last spring. The district also rehired the aide for that section of 4K.

District Administrator Joe Price said the funding guidelines require that the money be used by Sept. 30, 2012.

“This means that the district could use the balance of the funds to retain employees who might otherwise be laid off at the end of this school year,” Price said. “The administration will continue to evaluate various options to assure that these funds are used in a manner that will most benefit our students.”

Angie Landsverk and Jane Myhra contributed to this article.

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