Semingson to resign as E-S Supt. at end of 2014-15
by Beth Kraft
Following through on a message to staff at the beginning of the school year, Eleva-Strum Superintendent Craig Semingson has officially announced his plans to resign at the close of the current school year.
At its regular monthly meeting, the Eleva-Strum School Board accepted Semingson’s resignation, effective June 30, 2015, with thanks for his many years of service to the district.
“I chose a resignation rather than a retirement so I can keep my options open,” Semingson said.
He declined at this time to elaborate further on his reasons for leaving the district after this year, noting he wants the school and community to focus on the upcoming referendum vote.
Semingson explained he chose to announce his intentions now in order to provide the Board with options for the administrative position going forward in the event the district’s request to exceed revenue caps by $700,000 for the next two years fails.
The viability of moving toward a type of “superintendent by committee” structure as the Omro School District has was discussed at last month’s meeting. The schools could investigate appointing principals and other administrators to take on specific superintendent tasks rather than hiring one person for the position—a move that could potentially save the district money.
Semingson said he and his wife have been discussing the important decision and future career direction over the past several months.
“There are several things in my mind about what I’m going to be doing after Eleva-Strum,” he said, noting continuing his career track in education is a possibility.
Semingson began teaching with the E-S district in 1980 and later served as elementary principal for 21 years. He assumed the superintendent’s role in 2010.
Additional conversation regarding the upcoming Nov. 4 referendum also took place that evening.
Though Board president Lois Havenor said she was “optimistic” the upcoming referendum vote would pass given comments made by members of the area community, Board members and administrators still touched on what a few of the district’s immediate responses to a failed vote might be.
Semingson said the Board should be prepared to provide layoff notices in December to staff that would be affected by the roughly $800,000 in cuts the district is poised to make in the event of a failed vote, effectively giving them ample time to make other arrangements.
Havenor said members of the community have asked if the district would come back with another referendum question in April with a lesser amount if next month’s vote fails. She said she felt the Board should consider that option, noting there would be plenty of time to accomplish that task, but she felt the move would be difficult to justify and hoped it would be a last resort.
“If we set the amount of money we needed [with this referendum], I don’t know why we would try to come back and say [less would be okay],” said Havenor.
Over $100,000 in funds coming for Cardinal Mfg.
Eleva-Strum’s technology education program, Cardinal Manufacturing, will soon receive a major funding boost thanks to a few large donations.
The program will receive $25,000 from Nexen Group of Webster, plus an additional $12,500 from Nexen’s vice president of human resources, Dan Conroy. Cardinal Manufacturing was also tabbed for a $20,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Council.
The donations, which will help the tech ed program purchase new equipment, do require matching funds, Semingson told the Board. He stressed the funds would not come from district dollars.
Cardinal Manufacturing advisor Craig Cegielski has been charged with the task of securing the matching funds from businesses and individuals interested in supporting the program.
Once the matching funds have been obtained and combined with the donations, the program will receive a grand total of $115,000.
Also that night, the Board discussed obtaining bids for snow plowing this winter and the need to purchase a new van for the special education department.
Semingson explained the state is no longer allowing non-county and non-state areas to be plowed, which includes the parking lots and driveway areas at both E-S Central and Strum Primary.
Plowing of the Eleva Elementary parking lot area is completed by the Village.
The Board agreed to take bids from private plowing services to complete snow plowing work at Central and Strum following snowfalls of four inches or more.
A transmission breakdown in the district’s oldest special ed van will cost more to fix than the vehicle is worth, Semingson reported, dictating a replacement. The Board agreed to purchase a van from Chilson Motors at a cost of $14,900.
Semingson also reported that the school’s search for a new librarian at E-S Central has garnered few applicants. None of them hold the proper licenses, and there are no areas schools willing and able to share librarians.
Board members agreed the district should continue to advertise the position in hopes of attracting a licensed applicant. In the meantime, the Board tentatively agreed to look into the idea of allowing an existing employee to obtain an emergency librarian license.
Principals Cory Kulig and Marty Kempf also touched on DPI school report card results that evening.
According to the reports, both the Eleva and Strum elementary scores jumped at least four points. Kempf was happy to point out that Eleva Elementary’s score rose from 66.0 in 2012-13 to 70.4 in 2013-14, holding steady in the “meets expectations” category. Strum Primary jumped from 68.4 to 74.3, receiving “exceeds expectations” standing.
However, Kempf noted Strum’s score reflects only third grade performance. Students in grades 4K-2 are not tested.
Conversely, E-S Central’s scores dropped off from 68.5 in 2012-13 to 65.4 last year, holding steady in the “meets expectations” category. Kulig said it’s difficult to say why Central’s score dropped, noting the seventh and eighth grade students are included whereas many middle and high schools receive separate scores.
In other business that night, the Board approved the following:
• accept retirement for bus driver Ramona Hanson effective Dec. 5, 2014
• co-curricular hires for Alex Dodge, assistant boys basketball coach; Amanda Galetka, head girls basketball coach; Zenas Underwood, 8th grade boys basketball coach
• short-term borrowing limit set at $1.3 million for 2014-15 school year