“We never sought to be real estate developers in this project we were simply coming up with a way we could have kids at the purest form of hands-on learning experience and I don’t know what in Tech Ed could be more hands on than building a house,” said District Administrator Dr. Shawn Doerfler at the November meeting of Amery’s Board of Education.

It was a busy night for members of the School District of Amery’s Board of Education Oct. 28 as they took action on a variety items including the purchase of four more lots for the High School’s Construction Academy.

District Administrator, Dr. Shawn Doerfler said, “We are in year two of our house building endeavors. We built the house last year to completion and sold it. We are presently building a house right next to the one we built last year, so we are in the position to have to plan for the future because we’re going to continue building houses and we need another lot.” Doerfler said the lots they are looking to purchase arealong Hillcrest Drive. There are four of them, as it takes two lots to build a home. So four lots would be purchased to build two homes in years three and four. The cost of the lots is $8,500 a piece, which is the exact same cost the district paid for the first two lots. “The finances of things work out so this is not a loss in any way for the district, we turned a profit of about 40 thousand dollars in our first house so this would be up from those profits. We’re paying for additional lots,” said Doerfler. When speaking of 40 thousand dollars of profit, Doefler explained that meant they sold the home for 40 thousand more dollars than what it took to build it and it can now be reinvested into lots for future projects.

Doerfler said they started this project to give kids this specialized education and he believes that is exactly what they are receiving now and they want to continue to offer it. The board approved to move ahead with the purchase of the four lots. 

Last spring the topic of expanding the district’s Montessori program was presented to the board. Doerfler said, “At that time we told you we were going to do two things; have a lot more conversation about it and further make some visits. We did both of those things.”

He shared the process he and other members of the administration team have gone through to come up with a plan for the expansion of Montessori. “We met with some 25 of the Montessori parents and we surveyed all of them and got some response back from them as well. We asked their feedback about their experience with Montessori and there were a couple of themes. They were all pro Montessori. They wanted to make sure third grade was treated with integrity, meaning they wanted to keep that plane of development with the first, second and third-graders in the multi age environment together, which would have the third-graders into the Elementary School still and they were wondering, ‘What is the end game and when is it going to transition into a more traditional option?’ and that was a concern of theirs,” said Doerfler.

The recommendation to the board from the administrative team is to continue having the two 4K/K classrooms that are currently taught by Mrs. Otto and Mrs. Hill and the second plane of development classrooms, which include first, second and third grades. Mrs. Cronk, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hahn currently teach these classes. Removing forward they suggested a plane of development that would include grades four and five. Traditionally this level would include grade six also, but it was not recommended due to the fact that Amery’s six grade is held at the Middle School where teachers are subject based instructors as opposed to classroom based. “Our recommendation would be to do grades four and five, which would be one classroom in 2021 and two classrooms in 2022 and transition into a more traditional setting in grade six,” Doerfler said.

Board member Char Glenna wondered what the financial impact would be for the district. Doefler said there would be. He said, “It would be an additional classroom and an additional instructor in grade four. If you expand into grade five, it would be another instructor.” He said the only way to eliminate hiring additional teachers would be to increase class sizes. “You’re increasing your class sizes from say 16 to 23 and that’s just not a good idea. You need to add classroom instructors if you’re going to add classroom options,” Doerfler said. Oralee Schock added the other cost is the cost of teachers getting the Montessori degree as the district has paid the cost for the instructors at Lien Elementary. The Board approved the expansion.

Greta and Tyler McCarty conducted a presentation to the Board asking for the donation of old Ipads and cameras that have been sitting in school closets, to be given to a school in India. They would like to help integrate the Ipads into the Moriah School in India curriculum as well as some English lessons. Greta said, “It’s a really exciting opportunity, not only for these students to get some technology in their classrooms, but it’s a really exciting opportunity for our students here in Amery as well because we are going to be doing a lot of connecting with their students and learning about their culture and collaborating on some lessons we do back and forth.” Greta is the District Technology Integrator and a Library Media Specialist. Her husband Tyler’s company, Legacy River Coffee is donating a percent of its profits to provide a one-year salary to a tech person to assist Moriah classrooms with the equipment. They were connected with the Moriah School through an old classmate of Tyler, 1998 Amery graduate, Allen Luke. They Board approved the donation.

The board also approved the Start College Now and Early College Credit program requests, the yearly short term borrowing approval and the second readings of board policies 345.3, 346, 420-Rule, 443, 443.2-Rule, 460.1.

Personnel action taken was the acceptance of the resignation of Karen Schwerdtfeger as a Van driver and the hiring of Marcus Wilhelm as a Paraeducator, Vickie Heiss as a Van driver and Jessica Szobody and Jessica Luke as Clubhouse workers.

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