Here are three things to know from the March 15 meeting of the New Holstein Board of Education:
1. In general, New Holstein School District students who are attending classes in person are scoring better on standardized tests than students who are learning virtually.
That was one of the conclusions made by administrators at Monday evening’s Board of Education meeting as board members heard a report on some standardized testing which has been done prior to the pandemic and during the pandemic.
A dwindling number of students in the district are still learning virtually, administrators said. High School Principal Doug Olig said the high water mark at NHHS was 36 but as of Monday it was down to 25 with two more planning to return the following day and possibly several more before the end of the school year. Middle School Principal Amanda Jacobson said her school had 15 virtual students at one time but that is now down to seven. Elementary School Principal Jennifer Mohr-Whitman said the ES had 37 virtual students at one time but that is now down to somewhere between seven and nine.
Mohr-Whitman said the impact of virtual learning on test scores seems to be less noticeable at her grade level, but the other two principals said that—except for a few exceptions—virtual students are not performing as well on the standardized tests and otherwise.
After reporting that 10th grade students had better results on the ACT Aspire Periodic test than did 9th graders but that 9th graders have shown good improvement in math, Olig said he has observed that junior class students who are learning virtually are especially struggling. He said he is concerned about the prospects of some of those students graduating next year.
“It’s not because we haven’t tried,” Olig said about the efforts of teachers and other staff members to reach out to students and their families to try to help them. Olig also said he has observed “a lot more attendance issues this year” with parents taking students out for vacations or other “personal days.”
Jacobson agreed that the numbers show virtual Middle School students are not scoring as well on the tests.
2. Board members regretfully accepted the coming retirements of two longtime staff members.
Julie Schoenborn is retiring as of June 4 after 34 years teaching Family and Consumer Education. In her resignation letter, Schoenborn said the decision was difficult. “I have been coming to this school since it was built. First as a young child with my mother who was a teacher here for 37 years, then as a high school student, and now a member of the faculty. My 34 years here have been some of the best memories I have had. The hundreds of students that have impacted my life have been so rewarding and memorable. The numerous faculty/staff members I have worked with over the years has been so fulfilling.”
Cheryl Cook also is planning to retire as of June 5 after 20 years in the New Holstein School District and 40 years overall in teaching. “I have learned as much if not more from my students as they have learned from me,” Cook said. “My career in education began in 1977 after graduating from UW-Whitewater. Since then I have been assistant director, preschool teacher, Title 1 teacher, and taught grades kindergarten, first grade, fifth grade, and am ending my career in fourth grade. Here in New Holstein, the staff feels like family to me, and I will miss working with them and seeing the smiles on students’ faces.”
3. Board members also approved staff wage increases.
A 1.23 percent cost of living increase was approved for the New Holstein Education Association, a total cost of $40,749 to the district. Administrators will receive increases ranging from 1 percent to 2.5 percent for a total cost of $12,934, while support staff will receive increases of 3.5 percent for a total cost of $38,282.
(For more on this story, please see the March 18 issue of the Tri-County News.)