Stevens Point Area Public School District, Wisconsin

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Stevens Point Area Public School District
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Stevens Point Area Public School District seal.png
District Profile
Superintendent:Attila J. Weninger
Enrollment:7,353[1]
Graduation rate:86.6 percent[2]
Number of schools:15
Budget: $93,384,829[3]
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Angel Faxon
Board members:9
Term length:3
Stevens Point Area Public School District is a school district in Wisconsin that served 7,353 students during the 2013-2014 school year.[1]

The Stevens Point Area Public School District experienced a number of conflicts in 2014, including multiple bomb threats, a disagreement between the school board and business community over the superintendent's future in the district and a possible recall effort.

See also: Issues in Stevens Point Area Public School District

About the district

Stevens Point Area Public School District is located in Portage County, Wisconsin.

Stevens Point Area Public School District is located in Portage County, Wisconsin. The county seat is Stevens Point. Portage County was home to 70,380 residents in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau.[4]

Demographics

Higher education achievement

Portage County outperformed the rest of Wisconsin in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 27.2 percent of Portage County residents aged 25 years or older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 26.4 percent for Wisconsin as a whole.[4]

Median household income

From 2008 to 2012, the median household income in Portage County was $51,422. During that same time period, the median household income for the entire state was $52,627.[4]

Poverty rate

The poverty rate in Portage County from 2008 to 2012 was 13.5 percent. During that same time period, it was 12.5 percent statewide.[4]

Racial and political demographics

Racial Demographics, 2013[4]
Race Portage County (%) Wisconsin (%)
White 94.7 88.1
Black or African American 0.7 6.5
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.4 1.1
Asian 2.8 2.5
Two or more race 1.3 1.7
Hispanic or Latino 2.9 6.3

Presidential Voting Pattern, Portage County[5]
Year Democratic Vote Republican Vote
2012 22,075 16,615
2008 24,817 13,809
2004 21,861 16,546

Note: Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" percentage, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off. Read more about race and ethnicity in the Census here.[6]

Superintendent

The superintendent of Stevens Point Area Public School District is Dr. Attila J. Weninger.[7] He has served in the position since 2010. Weninger, originally from Austria, earned his bachelor's degree from Michigan State University and his master's and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University. Weninger previously served as superintendent of the Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 in Oak Park, Illinois.[8]

School board

The Stevens Point Area Public School District Board of Education consists of nine members elected to three-year terms. A list of board members for the 2014-2015 school year can be found in the table below.[9][10]

Stevens Point Area Board of Education
Member Title Term Ends
Angel Faxon President 2015
Jeff Presley Vice president 2015
Patricia Baker Clerk 2017
Vacant seat Treasurer 2016*
Jeff Ebel Member 2016
Meg Erler Member 2015
Christina Scott Member 2017
Kim Shirek Member 2016
Lisa Totten Member 2016
*Up for a election to a one-year term in 2016. This seat will then be on the ballot in 2017 for its full three-year term.

School board elections

See also: Stevens Point Area Public School District elections (2015)

Members of the Steven Point Area Board of Education are elected to three-year terms on a staggered basis. Every year three members are up for election. Four seats were up for election on April 1, 2014. Three seats were up for election on April 7, 2015, and three seats will be up for election in April 2016.[9][10]

Participation in board meetings

The Stevens Point Area Public School District maintains the following policy regarding public participation in school board meetings, which was last updated on February 22, 2011:[11]

Opportunity for and hearing of delegations and visitors, and public comments shall be provided at all regular school board meetings, and at special meetings when approved by the board, to give the public an opportunity to speak to an issue that has been or has not been noticed on the agenda. Public comments on any noticed agenda item may be presented at the time the item is considered by the school board. The school board may establish guidelines and time limits for remarks by the public including, but not limited to, identification of each speaker’s name and address.

All public comments shall be three to five minutes in length as determined by the board. No person may speak more than once to an issue, except upon the consent of a majority of the school board. The board secretary will serve as timekeeper for public comments. Comments made by the public shall be civil in content and tone, affirming the decorum established for a board meeting by the board. Disparaging comments/remarks about board members, employees, students, positions/position titles, and/or district citizens shall not be made. Public comment forms will be available at all regular school board meetings to provide community members an opportunity to express their thoughts in writing. All comments written on public comment forms will be disseminated to school board members for their consideration.

After hearing the public comments, the board president may assign the item to a committee, board meeting agenda, or the superintendent for follow-up, if appropriate. No board action or debate may take place on any topic raised by the public that has not been noticed on the agenda.[12]

Budget

Details on the district's revenue and expenditures in recent years can be found in the tables below. The following charts show the percentages of revenue and expenditures by type for the 2013-2014 school year.[3]

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Revenues

The district's total revenues decreased by 0.002 percent from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2014. During that time period, local revenue and revenue from other school districts increased while state aid and federal aid decreased.

Revenue by Category
School Year Local Other School Districts State Aid Federal Aid Other Revenue Total
Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue Total % of Revenue
2011-2012 $30,257,267 31.1% $470,535 0.5% $38,053,014 39.1% $3,263,561 3.4% $25,342,640 26% $97,387,016
2012-2013 $31,141,285 32.8% $468,577 0.5% $37,899,424 39.9% $2,015,885 2.1% $23,542,743 24.8% $95,067,914
2013-2014 $32,675,767 33.6% $600,000 0.6% $37,493,988 38.5% $2,338,605 2.4% $24,276,487 24.9% $97,384,847
Averages: $31,358,106.33 32% $513,037.33 1% $37,815,475.33 39% $2,539,350.33 3% $24,387,290 25% $96,613,259

Expenditures

From fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2014, the district's total expenditures increased by 6.5 percent. During that time period, staff expenses, expenditures on student services and operational expenses all increased while debt service expenditures decreased.

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2011-2012 $35,477,621 40.6% $30,576,517 35% $13,519,780 15.5% $1,284,235 1.5% $6,453,353 7.4% $87,311,503
2012-2013 $36,517,816 43% $27,446,199 32.3% $12,691,480 15% $1,259,535 1.5% $6,937,789 8.2% $84,852,819
2013-2014 $39,195,283 42% $31,689,970 33.9% $13,895,512 14.9% $1,267,635 1.4% $7,336,429 7.9% $93,384,829
Averages: $37,063,573.33 42% $29,904,228.67 34% $13,368,924 15% $1,270,468.33 1% $6,909,190.33 8% $88,516,383.67

Teacher salaries

The average teaching salary at Stevens Point Area Public School District during the 2013-2014 school year was $56,493. The minimum salary was $35,455, and the maximum salary was $76,300, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.[13]

Unions

Teachers at the Stevens Point Area Public School District are represented by the Stevens Point Area Education Association.[14]

Schools in Stevens Point Area Public School District

Enrollment

The district served 7,353 students during the 2013-2014 school year. The district experienced a 0.4 percent drop in enrollment from 2009 to 2013. The following chart details enrollment from 2009 to 2013.[1]

Total enrollment
Year Enrollment Year-to-year change (%)
2009 7,386 -
2010 7,401 0.2
2011 7,453 0.7
2012 7,404 -0.7
2013 7,353 -0.7

District schools

Stevens Point Area Public School District operates 13 K-12 schools, which are listed below in alphabetical order:[15]

Wausau School District
Bannach Elementary
Ben Franklin Junior High
Charles F. Fernandez Center
Jefferson Elementary
Kennedy Elementary
Madison Elementary
McDill Elementary
McKinley Elementary
P. J. Jacobs Junior High
Plover-Whiting Elementary
Roosevelt Elementary
Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH)
Washington Elementary

Academic performance

See also: Public education in Wisconsin
Policypedia
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Education statistics
See also

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction administers annual Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) tests to students throughout the state. These tests assess proficiency in math and reading among students in grades three through eight as well as 10th grade. WSAS tests also evaluate proficiency in language arts, science and social studies at grades four, eight and 10. The Department of Public Instruction publishes results from WSAS tests as part of each district's Annual District Report Card.[16]

The Annual District Report Card compares district performance with state performance based on four criteria:[16]

  • Student Achievement: This category compares reading and math performance by district students to state and national standards.
  • Student Growth: This category compares year-to-year performance on reading and math sections in WSAS tests.
  • Closing Gaps: This category compares test performance by low-performing groups in the district to similar cohorts across the state.
  • On-Track and Postsecondary Readiness: This category uses benchmarks including ACT scores, graduation rate, attendance rate and math achievement to assess post-graduate preparedness.

Stevens Point Area Public School District achieved an overall score of 71.9 during the 2013-2014 school year. The district's overall score led to a "Meets Expectations" designation from the Department of Public Instruction. The following tables compare district performance with state performance and detail the district's accountability ratings according to the 2013-2014 Annual District Report Card:[16]

Annual District Report Card Grades, 2013-2014
Category District score State score
Student Achievement 71.4 66.4
Student Growth 66.7 62.4
Closing Gaps 63.5 66.3
On-track and Postsecondary Readiness 86.0 85.3

Accountability ratings for schools in the district, 2013-2014
Category Number of schools Percentage of schools
Significantly exceeds expectations 0 0.0%
Exceeds expectations 7 46.7%
Meets expectations 5 33.3%
Meets few expectations 0 0.0%
Fails to meet expectations 0 0.0%
Alternate Accountability - Satisfactory Progress 3 20.0%
Alternate Accountability - Needs Improvement 0 0.0%

Historical data

The state's Annual District Report Card includes a review of district and state proficiency information in mathematics and reading for the previous five years. This review includes data from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD) for students from grades three through eight and 10. The following tables compare the district's percentage of proficient and advanced proficient students with state levels from the 2008-2009 school year through the 2013-2014 school year:[16]

Mathematics proficiency comparisons, 2008-2013
School year District proficiency rate (%) State proficiency rate (%)
2008-2009 52.6 45.2
2009-2010 56.2 47.0
2010-2011 57.1 46.8
2011-2012 58.6 48.3
2012-2013 55.4 48.2
2013-2014 57.7 48.8

Reading proficiency comparisons, 2008-2013
School year District proficiency rate (%) State proficiency rate (%)
2008-2009 39.8 35.3
2009-2010 40.6 35.7
2010-2011 40.6 35.7
2011-2012 40.1 36.0
2012-2013 38.8 36.4
2013-2014 38.9 36.7

Issues

Appointment of new board member

On April 2, 2015, school board member Alex Kochanowski resigned his post after the board decided to delay the hiring of a new permanent superintendent. The board had spent $16,000 searching for a new leader in the district's top seat and had narrowed the field down to two possible candidates before they decided to hire on an interim basis instead.[17]

Kochanowski called the board's decision a "failure" and said he could not support it. “Both of these professionals are extremely familiar with our schools and capable of leading our district,” he said.[17]

Kochanowski's resignation left the board with an open seat that had to be filled by appointment. Once filled, the seat will be on the ballot in April 2016. It will be up for a one-year term, which will put the staggered elections back on schedule.[18]

Bomb threat leads to arrest of student

The Stevens Point Area Public School District had six bomb threats in the first semester of the 2014-2015 school year. The sixth occurred on December 9, 2014, and led to the arrest of a junior high school student who will face repercussions from both the school district and the legal system.[19]

The threat was written on a stall in a girl's bathroom, stating that someone was going to bring a bomb to the school on December 10, 2014. The student who reported the threat to school staff later confessed to being the one who wrote it. The student said that the threat had not been real. The district did not release the name of the student.[20]

That student's threat was the third made at P.J. Jacobs Junior High School during the 2014-2015 school year. Whether the student was involved in previous threats is unclear. Two more threats were made at Stevens Point Area Senior High, and one happened at Ben Franklin Junior High School. Both district officials and police officers said the threats have caused significant disruption in regular routines. After previous threats, school staff had to conduct bag checks as students entered school grounds. Because the most recent threat was not legitimate, those checks were not conducted.[20]

Repercussions for this latest threat could include suspension or expulsion from the district and felony charges that are punishable with up to three and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine or a maximum of three years probation, if the student is tried as an adult. Being tried as a juvenile could result in the student being sentenced to secure detention. The decision between the two paths is the responsibility of the police department. Officials can refer the case to either Health and Human Services or the district attorney, who could then decide if there was legal basis to try to the student as an adult. District Attorney Louis Molepske said he expects the case to be referred to Health and Human Services.[19]

School board member recall options discussed

See also: Lisa Totten and Kim Shirek recall, Stevens Point Area Public School District, Wisconsin (2015)

Stevens Point Area Board of Education members Lisa Totten and Kim Shirek could face a recall effort if recall proponents gather sufficient signatures by March 10, 2015. Both Totten and Shirek have been criticized for their behavior in board meetings, including insulting district employees and fellow board members and delaying votes due to lack of knowledge. Both members were elected in April 2010.[21][22]

The Save Our Schools Committee recall committee formed and registered its specific intent for a recall with a GAB-1 form on January 9, 2015. The committee has 60 days, or until March 10, 2015, to circulate a petition and submit them to the district’s business services office. Proponents must gather at least 6,549 valid signatures for the recall election to be held.[22]

If sufficient signatures are submitted, the recall election must be held the sixth Tuesday after the signatures verification. The cost of a possible recall effort could vary from $3,000 to $40,000. Having the recall election occur at the same time as another election would help keep costs down. Recall elections must be held on the sixth Tuesday after the petition has been verified, which means a petition would have to be verified by late February if recall supporters wanted to include it on the school board elections ballot on April 7, 2015.[21]

Board moves forward with replacing superintendent despite community opposition

After teachers gave Superintendent Attila Weninger a vote of no confidence during the 2013-2014 school year, the Stevens Point Area Board of Education voted to non-renew Weninger’s contract in May 2014. That vote, however, occurred in a closed session, which brought up possible legal ramifications. Because it was deemed to be "unenforceable" under the law, that vote was retracted. Before the vote, Weninger had submitted his resignation effective the last day of his contract, July 30, 2015, which the board accepted after retracting their vote to non-renew his contract.[23][24]

The vote of no confidence and Weninger's subsequent resignation came after an inability to agree on teacher contracts after Act 10 was passed in 2011 and stripped the collective bargaining rights of unions. Weninger's relationship with the school board had also become contentious, with board members arguing that Weninger had not fairly considered new teacher contracts. The school board cited irreconcilable differences in communication when members voted to non-renew his contract.[23]

Business leaders in the school district community did not support Weninger's resignation. At a school board meeting in August 2014, CEOs and business leaders from companies such as Skyward, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection and Sentry Insurance were joined by Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson and other county officials to express their desire for the school board to rescind Weninger's resignation and keep him on after his contract ends. The public support came out of a previous school board meeting, when community members were asked to share their approval of Weninger's job performance.[24]

The school board did not carry out the request to keep Weninger on. Instead, the board formed a committee to look into going without a superintendent once Weninger retired after the 2014-2015 school year. Instead of having one person in that position, the board looked into creating an "Office of the Superintendent," which would have included a group of administrative decision-makers. That idea, however, was rejected on September 15, 2014, when the board voted 5-3 to stop pursuing the "Office of the Superintendent" model. Lisa Totten, Kim Shirek and Alex Kochanowski were in the minority, voting in favor of the model.[25][26]

In November 2014, the school board moved forward in their search for Weninger's replacement, asking community members to take a survey developed by the firm Ray and Associates to describe which qualities they wanted to see in their next superintendent.[27]

In March 2015, the board decided to search for an interim superintendent for the 2015-2016 school year, rather than appoint a permanent superintendent. The decision prompted board member Alex Kochanowski to resign from his post. The board had spent $16,000 on a search for a new superintendent and had narrowed the field down to two candidates before they decided to hire on an interim basis instead. Kochanowski said he could not support the decision.[17]

“Both of these professionals are extremely familiar with our schools and capable of leading our district,” said Kochanowski.[17]

Contact information

Stevens Point Area Public School District
1900 Polk Street
Stevens Point, WI 54481
Phone: (715) 345-5456

See also

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Wisconsin Information System for Education, "Enrollment (Single Year): Stevens Point Area Public," accessed September 23, 2014
  2. Wisconsin Information System for Education, "HS Completion (Single Year): Stevens Point Area Public 2012-2013," accessed September 23, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 Steven Point Area Public School District, "2013-14 Budget Report," accessed September 23, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 United States Census Bureau, "Portage County," accessed September 23, 2014
  5. Portage County, Wisconsin, "Portage County Election Information and Results," accessed September 23, 2014
  6. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  7. Stevens Point Area Public School District, "Superintendent's Home Page," accessed September 23, 2014
  8. District Administration, "Back in the Game," January 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 Stevens Point Area Public School District, "Current Board of Education Members," accessed September 23, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 Stevens Point Area Public School District, "Election Information," accessed September 23, 2014
  11. Stevens Point Area Public School District, "Policy Series 100: School Board," accessed September 23, 2014
  12. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  13. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, "School Staff: Salary, Position & Demographic Reports," accessed September 23, 2014
  14. Stevens Point Area Education Association Facebook Page, "About," accessed September 23, 2014
  15. Stevens Point Area Public School District, "Schools," accessed September 23, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, "Report Cards," accessed September 23, 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Stevens Point Journal, "Stevens Point School Board member resigns," April 2, 2015
  18. Stevens Point Journal, "Three vie for Stevens Point School Board," April 20, 2015
  19. 19.0 19.1 Stevens Point Journal, "Update: Bomb threat suspect faces host of consequences," December 10, 2014
  20. 20.0 20.1 Stevens Point Journal, "P.J. Jacobs student arrested after bomb threat," December 9, 2014
  21. 21.0 21.1 Stevens Point City Times, "School Board Watch Column: Details on Recall Election Requested," December 3, 2014
  22. 22.0 22.1 WSAU.com, "Recall campaign started against Stevens Point School Board members Totten & Shirek," January 9, 2015
  23. 23.0 23.1 Stevens Point City Times, "Growing Support for Weninger to Culminate at Monday’s Board Meeting," August 11, 2014
  24. 24.0 24.1 Steven Point Journal, "Business leaders want Weninger to stay," August 11, 2014
  25. Stevens Point Journal, "School Board considers going topless," August 20, 2014
  26. Stevens Point Journal, "UPDATE: District drops superintendent-by-committee idea," September 19, 2014
  27. Stevens Point Journal, "School Board asks for input on superintendent search," November 19, 2014