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Verona Area School District
Video will highlight K choices
FACTv project aims to connect with more parents of incoming kindergartners
Uniﬁed Newspaper Group
Verona Area School Dis-trict officials hope a new method of getting informa-tion to incoming kinder-garten parents will allow more of them to have a full understanding of choices of where to send their chil-dren.The new project will be in partnership with FAC-Tv, the city of Fitchburg’s television station, and will involve creating a video with site principals giv-ing a short explanation of their school. The video will be put online and sent out as a DVD to all incoming kindergarten parents, along with a newsletter with more information.VASD director of com-munity services John Schmitt said the principals are also hoping to hold multiple “open houses” at their sites to answer more personalized questions and offer tours to interested parents. In past years, the district has held an incom-ing parents meeting in early January, but Schmitt told the school board last Mon-day that turnout has been disappointing in recent years.“We were maybe hitting a third at best, and recog-nizing the people who were coming were people that had very much interest in it, but we weren’t attracting many people that weren’t able to get to the school easily,” Schmitt said.The project will cost in the “ballpark” of $3,000, he said. Board member Renee Zook questioned the reasoning behind the change and whether it would truly reach the intended audience, worry-ing some people may just throw the DVDs away.She wondered how it would reach “transient families, families that don’t even have DVD players, yet don’t have internet access either,” though Schmitt said a written element will also be sent home with the video.Zook said she was “will-ing to try it,” but wanted to make sure district officials followed up with parents later this school year to see what they thought of the information they received. The DVDs are currently being produced and will be sent out in early January.
No support for board conditions
VASD superintendent Dean Gorrell had asked board members if they would be interested in sup-porting recently proposed state legislation to require incoming school board members to have 16 hours of board member develop-ment. No members offered any support, and board presi-dent Dennis Beres said he worried about the effect it would have on who runs for board positions.“I think being a board member is onerous enough without requiring someone to do some sort of addition-al meetings,” Beres said. “I get the philosophy of it … but I think this is a citizen board that I just hate to see requirements put on people when it’s hard enough to get qualified candidates to run.”No board members dis-agreed with Beres, and the board decided against sup-porting the legislation.
Homecoming 2014 conflict
The Building, Grounds, and Transportation Com-mittee also reported Mon-day night that with only four home football games on next year’s schedule, there was no way for the entire Homecoming week-end to avoid conflict with a religious holiday. Board and BGT commit-tee member Jeannie Porter said the group chose the weekend of Sept. 26, which will cause the parade to conflict with Rosh Hasha-nah.While she said it wasn’t ideal, the other options had more conflicts than just the parade.
The board also final-ized its agenda for a Dec. 7 board retreat that will focus on the district’s growing enrollment and the issues that creates. Members will receive an update on municipal growth and enrollment, discuss long range mill-rate projec-tions, discuss potential land purchases and look into the potential impact of new schools to current atten-dance boundaries.The board has been dis-cussing the issue through-out the fall, with attendance growing by triple digits in each of the past two years.
Parisi signs $560 million budget
Uniﬁed Newspaper Group
Dane County taxpayers will see about a 3.3 percent hike in the county tax rate on their annual bills due to an increase in the county’s 2014 budget.County Executive Joe Pari-si’s $560 million 2014 bud-get was approved and signed earlier this month with little objection by county supervi-sors.The $509 million operating budget was approved 34-1 with the only no vote by Sup. Kurt Schlict of Cross Plains. The $51 million capital bud-get was approved 32-3. The county tax levy was unani-mously approved at $3.11 per $1,000 in assessed value, an increase from last year’s rate of $3.01.Verona schools will get a significant investment through new “Mental Health Rapid Response Teams.” The initiative will put profes-sionals in classrooms to help de-escalate situations with students who have mental health challenges; and coor-dinate community and edu-cational services. Money for emergency siren upgrades and $300,000 for a trail near the Sugar River was also included. The area will also benefit from about $16,000 in county meal funding for seniors that will make up for lost federal funds.The 2014 budget also bol-sters public safety and human service programs, Parisi said in a news release announcing the budget’s signing.“Working collaboratively public, private, and non-prof-it partners, the budget … tru-ly puts resources and services where they are needed most – helping young people, our families, and communities succeed,” Parisi said.
The budget includes $8 million for improvements to the Dane County Jail. The budget also includes money for two new court bailiffs and a new crime prevention board. The budget establishes a new crime prevention board that would distribute $20,000 to government law enforce-ment agencies and private crime prevention organiza-tions to support crime pre-vention efforts.The budget also allocates $147,900 to station two addi-tional sheriff’s deputies as bailiffs in family court.
The 2014 budget moves forward several partnerships to help children succeed in school and their community, Parisi said in a news release.Funds to prevent youth from being evicted and to curb homelessness are also included.The budget also includes $2 million to ensure a new domestic violence shelter opens in Dane County next year.
The county parks system will get a boost thanks to a partnership with Operation Fresh Start. Parisi’s budget creates the “Dane County Youth Conservation Corps,” a team of young people who will work year-round on a wide variety of projects to improve county parks. “This work will help young people develop critical job skills, and their projects will keep county parks and their amenities clean, accessible, and family friendly,” accord-ing to the news release.The 2014 budget also makes significant invest-ments in infrastructure and Dane County’s lakes and lands. The budget creates a projected $19 million gen-eral reserve fund, the highest it has ever been, better posi-tioning the county for future fiscal uncertainty, Parisi said.
2014 county budget
Year 2012 2013 2014Capital budget* $22.8 $32.7 $51Operating budget* $476 $491.9 $509County tax rate** $2.87 $3.01 $3.11* in millions**Per $1,000 in assessed value