Brian Roebke photo
The Wrightstown Community School District welcomed new superintendent Andy Space at last week’s board of education meeting.
By Brian Roebke
Board President Nicole Gerend introduced Andy Space as the new superintendent for the Wrights-town Community School District at last week’s board of education meeting.
She said the staff and board has been busy and will continue to be busy in the upcoming days, weeks, and months getting ready for the school year.
“It’s a pleasure to have you sitting right here next to me,” she said.
Space later thanked everyone for the well wishes, saying he is very excited to be serving in the district.
“First, I would like to thank my administrative team for coming and supporting me tonight,” he said. “It’s very nice for my first official board meeting.”
In the financial report, Business Manager Dan Storch said June 30 marked the end of the fiscal year and he’s working on closing the books for that and preparing for the audit Aug. 7-9.
Storch also noted the state budget was signed into law and he’s waiting to see how that shakes out and relates to Wrightstown and how they prepare their preliminary budget.
Board treasurer Angela Hansen Winker said she attended the Wisconsin Association of School Boards leadership conference and attended several sessions on finances. “One of the things that they mentioned is that board members are accountable to voters and students to communicate the complexity of finance,” she said.
She learned about revenue sources, revenue limits, equalized aid, expenditures, tax levy and mill rate, 8-9 different funds, fund balance, and debt service.
“One of the things they mentioned is that school boards should also have a vision of education within their district and communication strategies,” she said.
The communication strategies should cover the things she learned about.
Based on what she learned at that conference, she wanted to add another goal to the 2023-24 school year to include some type of a dashboard regarding the budget for the annual meeting.
Noting it’s very complex, she said the budget is very detailed as presented so she wants a graphic depiction of what’s included that shows a comprehensive overview of the data.
She also wants to break down the mill rate to include the operating mill rate, debt, and community service fund.
“I think this would help communicate some of the strategies that the board is doing,” she said.
She said WASB also assigns mentors and she received a mentor and will work with them on finances.
In the open forum portion of the meeting, there were three speakers.
Tony Decker spoke about the importance of communications and what happens when one thing is communicated and then something else is done.
Sue Byers spoke about the impact of school taxes on residents. She also said the district needs the support of the community for future referendums.
Dalton Rupiper said he’s learned a lot about school operations the past few months.
“We have awesome teachers and this is a great school, it’s just that some of the stuff I don’t think this board is doing is helping this community at all,” he said. “It’s hurting people.”
He purchased a house just before the COVID-19 virus came and his bills keep going up in price in addition to having to pay for the district’s accelerated payments for the new facility.
Byers and Decker also welcomed Space to the district.
The board approved academic standards as recommended by the state for the upcoming school year to comply with state law. “This will also be on our website so community members, parents, can go to dpi.wisconsin.gov/standards and see the standards also listed there,” Space said.
Space noted Gov. Tony Evers recently signed a literacy and reading law and he’s waiting to see what that means for the district.
Gerend said the board, along with Space, met with Dr. Lee Pritzl of Elevated Performance on board development on two evenings. “We really had a chance to work together as a board since it’s a new group again and really work together with Andy to develop some expectations and goals for us together so that we can keep this good thing going that we have,” she said.
Space said that was a great two-night experience for a board retreat.
“It begins our journey together as a board and superintendent,” he said. “Continuing the great legacy we have here.”
He believes Wrightstown is doing everything right and he’s very excited to join the district and be part of the team.
Pritzl returns this fall to meet with the board again.
He thinks board development is just as important as staff development.
Space also gave a shout out to Chris Knapp and the grounds crew getting the schools ready for the upcoming school year.
He said the community can notice they are replacing some windows at the elementary school. “The plywood will be off soon and we’ll have windows here,” he said.
The administrative team is working on the August in-service schedule. “We have a good speaker in Dr. Tom Thibodeaux coming in to speak with us and get us energized for the coming school year,” he said.
Hansen-Winker said in response to a community member’s concern with communication with the public, they held a meeting on board policy that includes a statement, “the board therefore will make every attempt to make known its plans and actions and encourage the community to make it known its desires.”
Hansen-Winkler summed up the concerns as they will continue to listen to public concerns.
“We have developed and revised nine board governance policies to make sure that we are controlling the board, reviewing five fiscal policies, we also are reviewing the two communication policies to include this one based off of what WASB suggested and making sure that we communicate our budget and finance information that people can understand how complex it is.”
She said the superintendent has offered to meet, and already had some meetings with people in the community regarding their concerns.
They reviewed legal implications on defeasance and since she took the treasurer role, Hansen-Winker made an effort to meet with the finance director to review the financial process. “They do an excellent job of making sure that checks and balances are done, explaining the bills listings, examples by line item, as well as the eight funds that we have available, and then also to use this as a platform for educating other board members in regard to finance during the finance report,” she said.
The “new guy in town” closed his portion of the meeting by giving out some praise.
“I am truly excited and honored and humbled to be your superintendent and be working with such a great school district and a great community, and our students,” he said. “That (FFA presentation) was amazing tonight. It gave me goosebumps. When I took this job I said we want to develop leaders and man, those are leaders. Parents aren’t going to have to worry about them in the future. That is an amazing program.”
Ellie Wendorf – Elementary School Guidance
Omid Farahani – HS Spec. Ed. Aide
Triston Winiecki – HS Spec. Ed. Aid