Numbers are down at Westmer

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Westmer School Board members learned Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 that sixth day enrollment was down by 34 students compared to last year's sixth day enrollment.

The impact on the school district amounts to about a $200,000 hit from the state, as state aid is based on the number of students. Interim superintendent Tom Avery said last year's sixth day enrollment was 544 for 2007-2008. The end of the year enrollment for the district was 522. The 2008-2009 sixth day enrollment was 510, with 253 in elementary and 257 at the secondary school. The state foundation per student is $5,959, making the amount the district receives at the start of the year $202,606 less than last year.

"Aledo is down 37," said Avery.

The board learned that district staff made contact with all families that had been displaced by the July flood and only one family had moved out of the district. That family had one student, moved to Aledo and had no plans to return to the district.

New Boston Elementary Principal Nancy Robinson said that since the six day attendance, three new students have started.

A public hearing on the district budget was postponed until the Oct, 14, 2008 board meeting.

Stacey Gramley, homecoming sponsor, addressed the board, telling them that the last week of September and the first few days of October would be homecoming week. "We had hoped to have a joint dance with Aledo," she said. That didn't work out. She said some felt it was important to give each school an opportunity to have their last homecoming dance separately, in case the two schools merged next year.

There will be a number of joint activities, however. Thursday, Oct. 2 there will be a snake dance and bonfire, hosted at Westmer behind the football field in Joy. Wednesday, Oct. 1, both schools will separately hold a Volley for the Cure to benefit the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer organization.

Gramley also talked to the board about eighth grade algebra, giving her opinion on whether or not students should receive high school credit for it. "It would give students the opportunity to take a fifth year math class," she said. One disadvantage was that for testing, some students skip a year of math and don't do as well in the ISATs.

Eric Coulter, a member of the committee of 10, addressed the board on the progress of the committee's work. He said a number of the committee members had been speaking to area groups about the ballot question. He said there would be more community meetings before the election to give voters an opportunity to become educated before voting, including a meeting at 7 p.m. at Keithsburg City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 18.

"We are one-third of the way for our fund-raising," he said. He planned to be on a WRMJ focus program in the future and e-mails had been sent out to a number of people asking for donations. "I'm concerned about the district's $190,000 deficit," he said. "I can't hesitate to say how real this is. There is a need for this (consolidation)."

Board member Kristen Welch suggested that the schools would be having an open house on Sept. 25, which might be a great opportunity to hold some informational sessions for people coming to the schools.

"Getting the right information out is what's important," said Coulter.

He said he had heard a number of people say they didn't think it would pass this year. His response: "You're going to make these kids suffer for two years?"

An account has been set up at Farmer's State Bank to help with the fund-raising, for anyone wanting to make donations. "Most people have asked to remain anonymous," said Coulter.

John Hoscheidt, of WRMJ is hosting a meet the candidate night Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at the AHS auditorium, so the public can meet the candidates running for the new school board, if the proposal for consolidation passes.