By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – Specific uses will be spelled out for spending money from the operational referendum going before school district voters April 7, said Business Director Keith Lucius.
He said details about how money would be used upon voter approval will be presented later this month at the informational session set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Pioneer Elementary School gym.
The Ashwaubenon school board heard one planned use – helping at-risk students graduate – when the board met Wednesday, Jan. 8.
Last month, the board voted unanimously to seek voter approval of an operational referendum to exceed the district’s revenue limit by $730,000 annually, starting with the 2020-21 school year and ending in 2024-25, and a capital referendum for issuing up to $10.05 million in general obligation bonds to pay for a district-wide building improvement program.
Lucius said the wording of the operational referendum specifies the funds obtained from a revenue override could only be used for non-recurring purposes consisting of expenses associated with providing student mental health services and utility expenses associated with operating heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Based on the board members’ discussions with district staff and public information meetings leading up to the board deciding to go ahead with the referendums next April, $650,000 of the operational referendum would be designated for student mental health services and the other $80,000 would go to operate air conditioning that would be added throughout the high school and Pioneer and Valley View elementary schools as part of the capital referendum.
The board has also gone on record stating it would only levy $650,000 annually from the operational referendum should district voters only approve it without also approving the capital referendum.
Of that $650,000, the board heard a presentation on how $40,000 of that amount could be designated toward the district hiring two graduation coaches.
Eric Vanden Heuvel, interim executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay, appeared before the board to discuss the Be Great: Graduate program, which is supported by the club to prevent at-risk students in grades 6-12 from dropping out of school.
Vanden Heuvel pointed out the Ashwaubenon district’s involvement in the program is now part-time at Parkview Middle School.
He said three-way funding could support two full-time graduation coaches for around $40,000 annually with the district’s share being one-third of the total cost to have a full-time coach at both the middle and high school.
He said a full-time graduation coach costs around $60,000 annually with salary and benefits, which would be funded by the Boys & Girls Club, the state and the school district with each paying one-third.
Vanden Heuvel said the program is expanding in Brown County with 200 at-risk students currently enrolled with the goal to serve 600 students in the county by 2025.
He said the current program school sites in the county also include Bay Port High School, Denmark Middle/High School, Washington Middle School, Franklin Middle School, Green Bay East High School and Green Bay West High School.
Ashwaubenon school board members also heard from Spencer Bonnie, executive director of Achieve Brown County.
Bonnie talked about Achieve Brown County’s Graduation Task Force involving the school districts of Ashwaubenon, Denmark, Green Bay and Howard-Suamico along with community partners working to match students at risk of dropping out with mentors to fit individual needs for improving attendance, achievement and behavior.