From: Steve Scharlau
C-FC School Board
This past week was Teacher Appreciation Week. I started this writing by thinking about where the Cochrane Fountain City School is with crucial aspects of educating kids, and here is what I found. I considered the turmoil that Wisconsin school employees have been through in the past few years. It would be easy to use that as an excuse if things were heading south, but what I found was a list of more than 30 educational areas tracked by the school board that are doing very well.
As for “kids and learning,” the C-FC staff is deeply engaged in a data-driven process that includes a computerized diagnostic tool called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) throughout the school to identify where “EACH” student is in reading and math skills. More importantly it identifies what EACH student needs to continue on a path of improvement.
The teaching demands are steep; State and Federal “standards” are changing at a record pace and our staff continues to navigate these demands using interactive curriculum software. C-FC has processes in place to track progress, develop strategies and train teachers with levels of support that are unprecedented in recent times! In my conversations with (non-administrative) employees that interact with substantial portions of staff in the building, they often share overwhelmingly positive vibes about the direction of the district and the progress within. Teachers couldn’t do what they do without the support of the staff that feeds the kids, cleans up, and transports students to and from the building every school day.
Conditions of our entire (building) facility and (bus) fleet are what I would consider some of the “best ever” through proactive maintenance and management. Energy consumption, labor costs and procedures are tracked and reviewed for efficiency in every aspect of the operation. The current energy reduction work, spearheaded by our superintendent, seeks to reduce energy costs by over $40,000 per year with investment in high efficiency lighting and better control of heating systems. Recent resurfacing of our track has drawn the attention of many surrounding schools that have (or suddenly want to come) to C-FC for track meets. Our booster club recently had a huge night feeding hundreds of people at the first ever baseball, softball and track hosting — all in the same evening! The school community can be very proud of the people (staff and volunteers) that make all this happen!
I have just one more note regarding the School Board that has established a structure of accountability and continuous improvement that touches EVERY aspect of school business. Our administration has unprecedented freedom that parallels unprecedented “oversight” by the board. It is working, and here is one more example. In 2009, the board took action on an underfunded employee retirement (loan) debt that grew to over $950,000 when the payments did NOT cover the annual interest cost for more than a decade. It was set on a course of correction through prudent financial management AND it is now totally paid off, ahead of schedule, in just 4 years! Meanwhile, C-FC property taxes have remained flat (no district-wide increase) for the past 3 years! All in all, the proverbial “glass” remains well over half-full in my humble opinion. If you know people that work at the school, please consider telling them that you appreciate them and what they are doing. The C-FC community should be very proud!