Mid-Prairie board approves GO bond sale, FY24-25 budget

By Cheryl Allen
Posted 4/26/24


The Mid-Prairie school board approved the sale of $8,700,000 in General Obligation bonds Monday night to winning bidder Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Local Hills …

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Mid-Prairie board approves GO bond sale, FY24-25 budget



The Mid-Prairie school board approved the sale of $8,700,000 in General Obligation bonds Monday night to winning bidder Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Local Hills Bank participated with the financial services company, Matt Gillespie of Piper Sandler told the board; the 3.9144% true interest rate offered by the winning bidder was the lowest of the seven bids received.

Gillespie provided the board with statistics from other recent bond sales for comparison, noting, “Your result today was right in line with what has been happening over the last two weeks. . . We see that the market is performing correctly.”

The district will receive $8,743,587.85 from the sale of the bonds, not including interest earnings.

Baker Group and Federation Bank of Washington, also local, were the runner-up bidders.

After a public hearing during which no comments were made, the board approved the FY24-25 Certified Budget at their April 22 business meeting.

No comments were made at the public hearings held for proposed contract documents for parking and traffic flow projects at East and West Elementary schools.

Instructional coaching

District curriculum leader Kristan Hunter, alongside instructional coaches Emily Zehr (West Elementary), Kelsi TeBockhorst (Middle), and Erin Cavanagh (High) gave a presentation about their student-centered instructional coaching program, which is new this year. Each building in the district has a dedicated instructional coach (Sarah Ihde, who was not present, is the coach at East Elementary) who works with teachers if desired.

“Our district coaching goal is empowering all teachers to continue to advance student achievement through collaborative efforts, including collegial partnership, co-teaching, co-planning, and instructional strategizing,” Hunter said.

What the coaches do with teachers is, “We increase their competence, we provide individualized support, and we empower one another – us with the teacher – through a shared partnership,” she explained.

The coaches shared the growth in student achievement that has resulted from this program, as well as the positive feedback received from teachers who took advantage of the optional coaching. Thirty-eight teachers and over 400 students have been impacted in this first year.

Superintendent Brian Stone remarked that the program is “a significant savings to the district, on top of a better product” than what is offered by the AEA. “We have our people working with our people on a very routine or normal basis, in comparison to somebody coming into the district twice a month or whatever.”

First- and second-year teachers receive an average of 90 minutes of weekly support as part of the induction coaching program, for example.

“That really makes Mid-Prairie stand out as an employer,” board Vice President Gabrielle Frederick agreed.

Superintendent evaluations

During the board’s work session, members considered the district’s superintendent performance evaluation policy.

“We’re just talking about what we want our evaluation process to look like going forward,” Frederick said. “I think it’s our job to make sure that we’re always communicating with our superintendent.”

Board members discussed the inadequacy of the formal year-end evaluation required by law, which asks whether the superintendent “meets” or “does not meet” 10 general standards, such as “Superintendent acts ethically according to professional norms to promote each student’s academic success and well-being,” and “Superintendent manages school operations and resources to promote each student’s academic success and well-being.”

“Anybody could do a half-assed job and still check every one of those boxes,” board President Jake Snider pointed out.

“We want to have more meaningful conversation,” Frederick said.

After more than an hour of discussion, the board concluded that they should have a more informal mid-year evaluation at their first meeting in November, as well as the formal, required year-end evaluation at their second meeting in April. The evaluations would be conducted in closed session as requested by the superintendent and allowed by law.

The board anticipates having a revised draft of the superintendent performance evaluation policy available for a first reading at their next meeting.

The Mid-Prairie school board will next meet on Monday, 13 at 6:15 p.m. at the Central Office Community Room.

Mid-Prairie Board of Education, school board, GO bond sale, certified budget