Mondovi Board approves new bus purchase; concept of year-round school discussed

Durand to join Dunn-St. Croix Conference


by Beth Kraft


The Mondovi School Board voted in favor of purchasing a 2015 74-passenger Thomas school bus, a move in line with the district’s regular bus replacement schedule, and discussed calendar options for 2015-16 at its regular monthly meeting, held Monday, Jan. 19.

Transportation supervisor Ricky Thorson was on hand to detail the three bus bids to the Board, submitted by Mid-State, Blue Bird and Thomas.

Thorson recommended the Thomas bid, which stipulated a $5,000 trade-in for the district’s 2002 Thomas bus to bring the cost of the new bus down to $84,717. That bid was actually about $10,000 higher than the low bid submitted by Mid-State for a 2015 72-passenger International, but he explained the district has experienced various motor and electrical issues with its current fleet of International buses.

The International models have not once been in working order all at the same time since he assumed command of the Mondovi bus fleet this past summer, Thorson said. The International buses are also about a foot longer, which could create parking issues in the bus lot if the district were to purchase too many more, Thorson pointed out.

The third bus bid, submitted by Blue Bird, came in at just under $78,000. That bid offered the district just $2,200 in trade for its 2002 Thomas. Additionally, Thorson noted some of Mondovi’s shorter school bus drivers have difficulties on the Blue Bird buses with reaching the pedals, creating a potential safety issue.

In other business that night, the Board viewed a draft of the 2015-16 school calendar. A year-round calendar format being utilized by Hamilton Early Learning Center in La Crosse was also presented in response to Board curiosity in the past.

Hamilton’s year-round school calendar designates a mid-July start date and wraps up in early June for a 176-day school year. A 2-3 week break follows the close of each quarter.

The current draft for Mondovi’s 2015-16 school year contains 178 school days.

District administrator Cheryl Gullicksrud called the year-round school concept “food for thought,” noting Hamilton is, to her knowledge, the only school in Wisconsin utilizing a year-round calendar this year.

Even if moving to a similar format at Mondovi were to gain momentum, the calendar would come with at least one major tweak up front. The Buffalo County Fair involves dozens of students and teachers in its annual event in late July/early August, Gullicksrud pointed out, meaning the beginning of the school year would likely have to hold off until afterward.

The lack of air conditioning in various portions of the school would also be a concern at Mondovi.

Gullicksrud said the district’s calendar committee had not yet had a chance to meet regarding the proposed 2015-16 school calendar. A few inservice days could be switched from late August before school starts to November prior to Thanksgiving break depending on feedback.

The calendar will be brought back for Board approval at a future meeting.

Also that night, Gullicksrud announced that Durand and Saint Croix Central are poised to flip-flop conferences next year.

Citing travel distances, Durand had expressed interest earlier this year in leaving the Middle Border Conference for the Dunn-St. Croix Conference while current DSC school SCC was interested in making the opposite trade. Both schools and conferences have approved the move beginning in fall 2015, pending the final OK from the WIAA.

Also presented during the meeting that night were middle school power-up data. Middle school math teacher Tyler Moy explained how response to interventions (RtI) time focusing on English and math is improving student scores on STAR testing, given several times throughout the year to track student growth.

Last year, prior to the launch of middle school RtI, all students in grades 6-8 showed gains of 30 points in math and 106 points in reading on STAR tests during the year, according to data presented by Moy. The scores are scaled to grade equivalency. This year with a group of 17 students pulled aside for power-up time, most have shown significant growth point gains with an average of 54.12 in math and 114.65 in reading—proof-positive that the small-group skill work is helpful.

Middle/high school principal Michael Bruning noted it’s important to identify underachieving students in middle school in order to get their basic skills up to par before they face the rigors of high school coursework.

In other business that night, the Board approved the following:

• resignation for Krystal Spaeth, Destination Imagination coach

• individual contract for Kaylan Altmann, Destination Imagination coach

• WASB 2015 proposed resolutions

• first reading of Technical Excellence Higher Education Scholarship Policy

• continuation of shared services contracts with Gilmanton, Osseo-Fairchild and Fall Creek for 2015-16


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