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Town of Verona
County rezoning on June 26 plan agenda
The Town of Verona plan commission will discuss and vote on a county rezon-ing plan at its June 26 meet-ing.The county’s plan gets rid of “ag exclusive zoning,” which affects who can take a Farmland Agriculture tax credit from the state.The process has been ongoing for a few years, and was in response to state law changes, Brian Stand-ing from the Dane County Planning and Development department told the Press in April.Town planner/adminis-trator Amanda Arnold said the plan commission must make a decision June 26 to keep with the county’s timeline. The decision will then go to the Town Board July 1 and the county later in July.Arnold said she’s had “a few citizens raise some concerns” with the rezon-ing changes, and said it will be up to the commission to decided whether to adopt all of the county’s propos-als or modify them.Arnold also encouraged anyone with questions or concerns on the rezoning to contact her before the meet-ing so the commission can be prepared to discuss all concerns that are out there. Arnold’s email is email@example.com.There will also be time at the meeting to raise further concerns.Arnold said that it’s not an option to maintain current zoning for those properties that are being rezoned, because that would require a change to the comprehensive plan, “and that would be a longer process.”Affected property own-ers should have received a letter in the mail about the changes.The meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 26, at Vero-na Town Hall.
If you go
Plan Commission meeting
Verona Area School District
Exploration Academy adjusts schedule
Unified Newspaper Group
Exploration Academy students and advisers will have 18 days of even more flexibility next year.On late start Mondays, EA students, which will number 80 for the 2014-15 school year, will not have to attend school.Instead, they will devel-op a “Late Start Monday Learning Plan,” which will include community-based work experiences, time outside of the normal school day or regular proj-ect work.“We’ve long said that students don’t necessar-ily need to be within the four walls of the classroom or the school to engage in learning,” outgoing EA director Mike Murphy said. “What we’d really like to do is promote … that students could get out into the community or just work more flexibly rather than feel like they just need to be in the classroom.” The new plan fits with the mission of increased personalized learning for students at the charter high school, which opened for its first year in fall 2013.The school has students meet the same standards as all high school students statewide, but allows them to choose the projects they work on to meet those stan-dards and does not hold them to the traditional classroom setting. The changes to late start Mondays, of which there are 18 each year, will also help staff better work with students in the commu-nity and develop their own advising methods for per-sonalized learning.“That would afford us some time to work in a more collaborative man-ner, as well as our staff members getting out to the community where our stu-dents are working,” Mur-phy said, mentioning that it was an “immense” task this year to develop per-sonalized plans and get the school off and running. Staff would use half of the time, equal to nine days, for “professional learning community col-laboration” amongst them-selves and the other half to work with students outside of the normal school day for an evening showcase event or something similar.Murphy said parents of current and incoming EA students all were support-ive of the idea.“I don’t think we had anyone say ‘you can’t do that, that’s not going to fly,’” he said.Adviser Chad Welty said it would allow him to better work with students out in the community and make more connections himself.“I wasn’t able to get (to students in the community) as frequently as I would’ve liked,” Welty said.At least one adviser will remain at EA on late start Mondays for students who are unable to go elsewhere because they rely on the bus or transportation at only certain times of the day.
Board passes preliminary budget
The board approved the $62 million dollar prelimi-nary 2014-15 budget Mon-day night.The budget would bring a mill rate drop to $12.10 per $1,000 of equalized value on a home. The new rate would save the owner of a $250,000 home an average of $42.50 on their property taxes.The district is required to pass a budget before the fis-cal year begins July 1, but it won’t be finalized until October after official enroll-ment numbers come in to determine state aid.The mill rate numbers will vary somewhat from com-munity to community within the school district.
The board also approved a resolution to borrow up to $35 mil-lion to fund the changes to the retirement system for district employees.The money would be sold as promissory notes to cover the costs, and will help pre-fund the obligations to retir-ees rather than the “pay as we go” system the district currently has, board president Dennis Beres said.“Between the changes that we’ve made and trimming those future obligations and the time value of money by allo-cating money to a bond-ing resolution, we’re able to pre-fund the amount of future obli-gations and drastically reduce the total obliga-tion to the taxpayers,” Beres said.The borrowing will now go through unless a petition with at least 7,500 electors or 20 percent of the voters from the last gubernato-rial election signing is filed within 30 days.The borrowing comes as the district changes the health benefits for future retirees based on a “tier system” to save the district mon-ey. District business manager Chris Murphy said the changes mean the annual cost will be around $2.5 million, but that would have grown to $5 million within 20-30 years without the changes.Unions for dis-trict support staff and teachers supported the changes when they were introduced two weeks ago and were involved in yearlong negotia-tions.The official changes to the employee hand-book will be voted on at the July 14 board meet-ing.
– Scott Girard
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