One of my peers, Joe Sanfelippo (Fall Creek District Administrator), challenged other district administrators to make 100 calls to families in celebrating the first 100 days of school. I accepted the challenge. What an awesome experience. It was great to learn more about our students and families. Next year, I hope to make all of the calls in one day. The phone calls consisted of thanking parents/guardians/students for the students’ academic achievements, leadership, and making improvements at school (academic or behavior). The conversations were priceless and invigorating.
The experience has reminded me how important positive connections are. Education is a people business that is driven by the type of interactions we have. The longer I work in the education field, the more I understand the significant impact of the interactions.
We are fortunate to have positive messages throughout our schools and community. When I walk through the hallways in the schools, I see and hear those positive messages. For this to continue, we need to continue to celebrate our strengths and differences.
Positive messages occur when there is active dialogue on what we value. This occurs when all parties are willing to listen and acknowledge there are different viewpoints on some topics. My observations in Whitewater indicate this occurs in our community and schools. I am proud to be a part of a community that values inclusivity.
As a leader, I know my actions are visible. When something does not seem right, I ask myself, “What does this mean?” I am fortunate to have many community and staff members who help me make decisions every day. Once I have an answer, I focus on how I can be a part of the solution. One of my daily goals is to recognize people for their contributions and positivity.
Congratulations to all of the RISE Mini Grants awarded to staff. Great ideas that will make a huge impact on student learning. RISE Mini Grants are distributed on an annual basis.
RISE Mini Grants
STEM Bins - Michelle Kuhlow $510
Referendum Update (2/01/17)
We have reached a milestone in the planning of the referendum projects. Thank you to everyone who has contributed. We have completed the schematic design phase. Essentially, we now know where the walls go and are 99% sure on the concept of the design for areas identified for renovation. The next phase will focus on the details: furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
We plan to have new display boards soon. Below are some changes from the pre-referendum drawings:
On Monday, January 9, the school board held a work session on projects related to the $23.5 million capital referendum. Business partners Eppstein Uhen Architects and JP Cullen were present to review the project. The presentation outlined work completed on the first phase (schematic design). Initial meetings have focused on areas that are larger in scope (Lincoln and HS PE/athletics, LMCs, and school entrances). The district has held core team meetings every other week, and focus meetings have been held at the building level as needed. Core team members are Mark Elworthy, Nathan Jaeger, Charlie Barr, Mary Kilar, David Brokopp, and Bill Kuchan. The first phase is 85% complete. The next phase is design development which will generate the bid documents. The project is scheduled to go out to bid in April.
At the meeting, the board was presented the five secure entrance designs, changes in scope at Washington, Lincoln, and the middle school, and were updated on the bathroom renovations process. The board was informed that on January 3, Nate Jaeger and Mark Elworthy met with the City of Whitewater to discuss potential traffic safety improvements at Lincoln and the middle school. It was agreed that there are many safety concerns that need to be addressed. The major changes are as follows:
The 4K room will no longer be relocated to the current locker room spaces. There was initial concern about the lack of natural light which we thought could be addressed by bringing in natural light from the entryway. A load-bearing wall will prohibit us from opening that room up as much as we wanted. That space will be utilized for other instructional areas and conference space. We feel this is a better outcome than the original design.
a. Entrance – The preferred staff option is on the north side of the building about 100 feet from the northeast corner. A canopy would designate the new entrance. The new entrance allows for better flow. Parking near the new entrance has been proposed to assist with student drop-offs and pick-ups.
b. Circulation - The District will approach the city to formally request changes in street parking near the school and implement a right-turn-only out of the north driveway.
1) No parking on Prince Street between Highland Street and West Peck Street. There would be a new drop-off/pick-up area cut-in on Prince Street (west side). It would be created by a curb-cut and would be intended strictly for drop-offs and pick-ups. This would require an ordinance change which would involve gathering community input.
2) If these changes do not improve student safety and circulation, the district will consider requesting the City of Whitewater to implement one-way driving on Prince Street between Highland Street and W. Peck Street, preferably in the southern direction. This change would also encourage parents who have students in both the middle school and elementary schools to drive around the block (clockwise) to drop off/pick up their children. This would require an ordinance change which would involve gathering community input.
3. Middle School
a. Entrance – In the pre-referendum meetings, an Elizabeth Street entrance was proposed. It has been determined not to be viable. The current office will be renovated. Additional visitor parking will be added near the current entrance.
b. Circulation - In the pre-referendum meetings, a driveway in front of the school was proposed. It is being re-evaluated for effectiveness, safety, and cost. There is a concern that it would add a second lane of traffic for students to walk through. The district is considering a cut-in for pick-up/drop-off on Elizabeth Street. In the next couple of weeks, there will be meetings with focus groups regarding LMCs, the HS PE space, the MS fine arts space, and ADA bathroom renovations and design.
Washington Elementary School in Whitewater Nominated for
Prestigious National Blue Ribbon Schools Award
State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers has nominated eight Wisconsin public elementary schools for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award, which is a U.S. Department of Education effort to recognize overall academic excellence or progress in improving student achievement. We are pleased to announce that Washington Elementary School is among those nominated.
“The Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for solid student academic achievement,” Evers said. “Our public school nominees provide a safe and supportive learning environment where young people can build a foundation for future academic and life success. I wish our nominees well in the next phase of the Blue Ribbon Schools process.”
Schools nominated to the program must complete the Blue Ribbon Schools application and undergo a rigorous national review process. Awards, presented to “Exemplary High Performing” and “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing” schools, are typically announced in early September. The Blue Ribbon Schools Program has recognized more than 8,500 of America’s schools since it began in 1982. To be considered for the program, schools must be among the top schools in the state for overall achievement on statewide assessments or closing achievement gaps between student groups.
Tom Grosinske, principal of Washington Elementary, comments, “We are so proud and humbled to be nominated by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award through the U.S. Department of Education. This validates the incredible work our school staff has been doing for our students. We have known all along we have amazing families, a world class staff, and a very supportive school district. This nomination is evidence of the positive and student-centered culture that is Washington Elementary School.”
The 2017 nominees are:
Reminder of Weather Delays and Closings
With the arrival of winter, families, students, and community members often inquire how decisions to close or delay school are made and communicated. If school is delayed or closed, our goal is to make a decision by 5:00 AM. In making the decision, the District Administrator drives the roads and consults with Nelson’s Bus Service, local snowplow drivers, and area district administrators. We will broadcast the decision on television and radio stations as well as communicate electronically via the WUSD website and Infinite Campus. If the wind chill is sustained at -35â?¦ F or a Wind Chill Warning is issued, most school districts will close, although this is a local decision.
While the district has the responsibility to close school due to weather, no decision of ours overrides the judgment of parents. If parents have a sincere concern for the safety of their children, they can certainly keep them home or remove them from school early.
Recordatorio sobre los retrasos o cancelaciones debido al clima
Con la llegada del invierno, las familias, estudiantes y los miembros de la comunidad a menudo se preguntan sobre las decisiones y comunicaciones que se toman acerca de cerrar la escuela o retrasar el inicio de clases. Si se cierra la escuela o se retrasa el inicio de clases, nuestra meta es tomar esas decisiones hasta las 5:00 AM. Para tomar una decisión, el administrador del distrito maneja por las calles y consulta con el servicio de buses Nelson , con los empleados locales que limpian las calles y con los otros administradores del distrito. Una vez que se haya tomado una decisión, ésta será anunciada en los canales de television y de radio y la comunicaremos también electrónicamente a través de la página web del distrito y de Infinite Campus. Si el viento frío se mantiene a -35â?¦ F o se anuncia una advertencia de vientos frios, la mayoria de distritos escolares cierran sus escuelas, aun cuando la decisión es tomada a nivel local.
Si bien el distrito tiene la responsabilidad de cerrar la escuela debido al clima severo, ninguna decisión nuestra va antes que la de los padres. Si los padres tienen una sincera preocupación por la seguridad de sus hijos, ellos pueden mantenerlos en casa o retirarlos temprano de la escuela.
November is a time when I often think back to childhood memories. As a family, we would travel to Grandma E.’s in Illinois where we would see our Illinois cousins. We would leave after dinner since both parents worked. Weather sometimes made the trip interesting, but Dad always got us there. One year the usual 4.5-hour trip took 8 hours due to snow. We were thankful to see our cousins and share our life’s adventures of the past year.
Family time is wonderful, but recent events have reminded me of the benefits of giving back to the community.
DISTRICT AND SCHOOL REPORT CARDS FOR THE
WHITEWATER UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
District and School Report Cards for the Whitewater Unified School District were released November 17, 2016, by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The district and each school received its own report card that evaluated its performance based on multiple measures.
The WUSD district report card received a score of “Meets Expectations.” Whitewater High School and Whitewater Middle School also received a rating of “Meets Expectations” on their state report cards. The three elementary schools in Whitewater increased their ratings from previous years, with Lincoln Elementary receiving a rating of “Exceeds Expectations” and Lakeview and Washington Elementary Schools each receiving a rating of “Significantly Exceeds Expectations.”
“The scores reflect our commitment to educating our students,” according to Dr. Mark Elworthy, District Administrator. “We believe that having strong relationships with our students, families, and community partners is a key component of success. The work of staff to update our curriculum has also made a difference in how our students learn. The State Report Card is one of many ways we measure success. Our goal is to have students prepared to follow their dreams when they graduate.”
WUSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kelly Seichter is pleased with the scores but noted that the district is committed to continual improvement. "As a district, we were very happy to see our report card scores, but we will always continue to expect further improvement in teaching and learning," Seichter said.
This is the third year that DPI has issued report cards for every public school district, and the fourth year that each individual school has gotten a report card. Due to transition from former assessments, the Wisconsin DPI did not issue report cards for the 2014-15 school year. With the report cards, each district and school earns a “score,” called an accountability index score, from 0 to 100. The score is based on performance in five priority areas:
||Score 2015-16||Rating 2015-16|
|District Report Card
|Whitewater High School||73.2||69.2||Meets Expectations|
|Whitewater Middle School||71.1||63.4||Meets Expectations|
|Lakeview Elementary School||77.9||85.6||Significantly Exceeds Expectation|
|Lincoln Elementary School||62.9||76.3||Exceeds Expectations|
|Washington Elementary School||76.0||91.6||Significantly Exceeds Expectation|
Dear Whitewater Community Members,
Thank you for taking time to learn about the November 8 Facilities Referendum and the proposed $23.5 million school building improvement plan reflects an 18-month engagement process including input from the Citizens Financial Advisory Committee, a community workshop (over 100 participants), and a community-wide survey.
Our District has a proud history of student achievement, upheld by our community’s support for learning and strong schools.
If approved, the November 8 Facilities Referendum will allow us to address safety and security improvements, ADA compliance updates, maintenance upgrades, and renovation of instructional spaces in all school buildings.
I hope you find our website helpful as you make an informed vote on November 8.
Mark Elworthy, Ed. D.