Green Bay school board looks to add committees
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay school board could soon change how it does things in terms of board structure by adding committees in an effort to increase transparency and allow for more robust discussion into issues.
The agenda for the Monday, April 26, school board work session was plump full of issues including school start time, student dress code and class size.
These issues would normally take several hours each to discuss at the full board table.
Instead, many of these topics were held to an undetermined future date in anticipation of the launch of board committees.
“We’ve mentioned this a little bit – we are putting the cart before the horse,” said Eric Vanden Heuvel, board president. “If people are watching at home tonight they may be confused. We are going to have a board retreat on May 17 in which we will propose a committee structure to do a lot of our work. It’s something we are looking to launch in June to help us be more efficient and really to bring more voices to the table. More to come on that. Nothing is official, but we’ve talked about it in nearly every agenda item tonight. So I just wanted to provide that context.”
Vanden Heuvel said details on the committees are still being ironed out, but the proposed plan includes launching three primary committees – education, operations, and policy and governance.
Superintendent Steve Murley said a committee structure will give the public the opportunity to witness and participate in key aspects of district business.
He said committees afford the opportunity to invite all stakeholders to the table for discussion, prior to any vote at the full board table.
“The joy of the committee is that the committee chair has the right and authority to invite anyone to the table that they would like too,” Murley said.
Vanden Heuvel said an agenda for the May 17 retreat will be posted in advance, and audio will be recorded.
He said it will also serve as an orientation of sorts for new board members and include a Robert’s Rules of Order review.
Vanden Heuvel said the board will hold another retreat sometime in June which will focus on referendum planning.
“In June, Steve and Pete (Ross, chief of operations), will present a multi-year plan of what will make sense financially,” he said.
PK-5th virtual school
The district continues to move forward with its plan to launch a 4K through fifth-grade virtual school option next school year.
The board gave administration the initial go-ahead to begin the application process with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to obtain the school’s identification number.
Final application approval will be voted on in May.
Vanden Heuvel said Nancy Chartier, executive director of teaching and learning, will provide the board with a detailed presentation of what the virtual model will look like in the near future.
“It’s in the works, whether it’s next month or in June,” he said. “So, that is coming as I know it is something lots of people are interested in.”
In regards to selecting a name for the school, Murley said that will happen at a later date.
“We are actually going to go with a generic name to start with the application,” he said. “Because what we would really like to do is allow that first group of students that chose to enroll in the online school to go through that process in selecting the name for it, and then we would be able to go back and officially change the name with DPI.”
Secondary students will have a virtual learning option through the John Dewey Academy of Learning for the 2021-22 school year.
“We believe we will be able to accommodate everybody who asks,” he said. “Of course we don’t know who is going to make that choice right now, but we will be ready for that.”
Safe Walk & Bike plan annual report
Chad Jensema, transportation manager for the district, gave trustees a brief annual report on The Safe Walk & Bike plan, a collaborative effort between the city and the district to identify and implement safe walking and biking paths within Green Bay.
Jensema said 2.15 bike lanes were added in 2020 – an increase of 13.8 percent. The city now has 17.58 miles of bike lanes.
“These miles were achieved in two different ways – road reconstruction and lane design with different roadway paint and signs,” he said.
The new bike lane locations include:
• Webster Avenue from University Avenue to Klaus Street (.62 miles).
• Webster Avenue from Klaus Street to Radisson Street (0.21 miles).
• Radisson Street from Webster Avenue to North Irwin Street (.036 miles).
• North Irwin Street from Radisson Street to Bay Beach Road (.44 miles).
• Broadway from Dousman Street to Mather Street (.37 miles).
• East Walnut Street from Webster to South Baird Street (0.53 miles).
Jensema said the city will release a press release on the annual report May 3.
It will undergo an informational review by city council May 18.
Board officer selection
The board selected its officers during a special board meeting prior to Monday’s work session.
Vanden Heuvel was reelected as board president for a second year.
The board went on to select Laura McCoy as vice president, Andrew Becker as treasurer and Dawn Smith as clerk.
Trustees also reappointed Beth Jones as school board secretary.
Appointments were also made.
Trustee Laura Laitinen-Warren will serve as the board’s legislative liaison.
Board member Nancy Welch will serve as the CESA 7 liaison and representative at the annual convention.
McCoy will again serve as the Wisconsin Association of School Board delegate.
McCoy and Welch will also serve as Head Start representatives.