A trial balloon floated last month by Onalaska school administrators popped from the sharp point of reality.
In January, Onalaska Board of Education members were asked to consider the plight of sleepy, lethargic middle school and high school students. The idea was to let the adolescents start school later in the morning when they were more alert while the bright and bushy-tailed elementary students would start earlier.
Problems emerged immediately: It turns out at least 170 elementary students were getting some kind of after school supervision from their older brothers or sisters. Having the older kids leaving later in the morning and getting home later in the afternoon could cause babysitting issues. Plus, an after school program for the young kids could cost another $85,000 per year.
In addition, having later class times would mean high school athletes would have to leave their last hour classes to get to competitions.
Then there was a bus issue and its “curb time” and “roll time,” according to Superintendent Fran Finco.
The jostling of schedules was too much. So the new start time for the middle school will change to 7:25 a.m. (from 7:30) and high school classes will start at 7:30 a.m. (from 7:23).
Basically, start times will be very close “even though we believe high school skids would possibly do better,” Finco noted. “It was a good, month long conversation,” he concluded.
Open enrollment students who attend Onalaska schools are responsible for keeping the student population up for the district. Reporting to the school board Monday, Finance Director Larry Dalton said the official January census shows an official headcount of 3,031. That includes 271 open enrollment students.
“Open enrollment is more and more a significant factor,” Dalton said.
Otherwise the school district remains statistically stable over the last decade.
The January census helps determine state aid for the school district, but open enrollment students are not counted.
Dalton noted that nearly a quarter of pre-kindergarten students are from outside the Onalaska district.
The board hired Debra Hosch as a kindergarten tutor at the Onalaska Kindergarten Center and Michelle Rinartz as secretary for the K-8 summer school program.
Co-curricular contracts were issued to D.J. Ehrike, middle school drama adviser, and Jana Yashinsky, varsity girls soccer head coach. Yashinsky resigned as assistant for varsity girls and boys soccer. Prom adviser Angie Hendrikson resigned.