Photos: Verona Area International School Chinese New Year Celebration

Students at Verona Area International School celebrated the Chinese New Year Friday, Feb. 5, with crafts and a dance. Groups of kids practiced calligraphy, made monkey masks for the “Year of the Monkey” and brought out their best chopstick skills to compete in a game. 


88 spots for 2016-17 open enrollment in Verona Area School District

The Verona Area School District could have fewer open enrollment students entering in 2016-17 than in the current school year.

The school board approved 88 spots for general education open enrollment students, including 24 for ninth-graders, on a 6-1 vote Jan. 25, with Renee Zook the lone vote against. The board also approved 21 open enrollment spots for special needs students. 

It took more discussion than in recent years, when approving open enrollment spots was a unanimous, little-discussed topic. This time, though, some questioned how much space there was after discussion the above-capacity situation at Glacier Edge Elementary School over the past few months.


Gun law would permit concealed carry on school campuses

A proposed state law would allow the carrying of concealed weapons on school grounds, but would also allow school districts to prohibit them inside school buildings.

Wisconsin does not currently allow weapons on school grounds, and the bill’s co-authors said it would make Wisconsin’s law “compatible with federal law” by “clarifying the law about concealed carry within a school zone.”

On Jan. 13, state Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and co-author, state Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville), introduced the Wisconsin School Zone Empowerment Act, and Lazich said the bill “expresses the intent of the federal Guns Free School Zone law by permitting concealed-carry licensees to carry on school grounds.”


Verona Area School Board talks timeline for new school planning

The Verona Area School Board is back to planning for a new school after focusing on the short-term solution for the space crunch at Glacier Edge Elementary School over the past few months.

That includes an expected April 2017 referendum, which the board committed to Monday night as they outlined the work required before then.

While they could ultimately decide against a referendum after community surveys and other input, the expectation is that by Jan. 21, 2017, board members will have approved language for a building referendum on the April ballot.

If voters were to approve that referendum, a school would likely open in September 2019, Jill Huskisson of Eppstein Uhen architects told the board Monday night.


Verona Area School District: Badger Exam results show racial gaps

The achievement gap in the Verona Area School District reared its ugly head again in last year’s Badger Exam.

Most district students in grades three through eight took the exams during the 2014-15 school year, and overall results in the first batch of information made public last month were generally positive, with only fifth-graders falling below state averages for testing either “proficient” or “advanced” in English Language Arts (ELA) and math.  However, more detailed results released by school district administrators at the Jan. 25 school board meeting show large gaps remain between the scores of black and Hispanic students and those of their white peers. 


Grant to help support Verona Area High school college program

Part of $3.3 million in grants to the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County will benefit Verona Area High School students.

VAHS’ College Club receives money from the organization, along with the Madison Metropolitan School District’s AVID/TOPS program. Both programs are aimed at minority students, especially those in the “academic middle,” said AVID/TOPS coordinator Langston Evans.

He said that means students who have a GPA indicating they could be successful at the college level, but may not have the resources or family knowledge to understand how to navigate the college and financial aid application processes.


Seeking consistency, VASD schools use mix of behavior initiatives

Photos by Scott Girard. Charlie McGinnis, center, talks about what staff at Country View Elementary School can do to help improve relationships with classmates during a restorative circle while Bentley Bourne, left, and Danny Porter listen. Bobbie Reinhart's fourth-grade class holds the circles daily to build community.

Personalized education has gotten plenty of attention the past few years in the Verona Area School District, both positive and negative.

Over the past year, that attention has spread to the district’s behavior initiatives, which are become increasingly personalized, as well.

Last spring, parents questioned how schools respond to misbehavior and whether they should reward simple good behaviors, which is an important part of the approaches the district has been emphasizing.

When the district first responded to those concerns, administrators mentioned strategies like Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports or the Nurtured Heart Approach, which many outside the school system may not have fully understood. That’s something district officials hope to change in the coming years.


More changes to Glacier Edge Elementary attendance area

The Glacier Edge Elementary School attendance area went through another round of revisions Monday.

The Verona Area school board debated its options for solving the space crunch at GE for several weeks, settling earlier this month on changing the school’s attendance area starting next year. But population projections presented Monday indicated it needed to go further.

The Quarry Vista and other South Stoner Prairie neighborhoods of Fitchburg, which were both previously in the GE attendance area, will now attend Stoner Prairie Elementary School after a 6-1 vote, with Joanne Gauthier voting against the change.


Photos: Sticky situation at Glacier Edge Elementary

Glacier Edge Elementary School students got more than new books for their fundraising efforts in a recent coin challenge. Students donated $2,919.25 to the PTO-sponsored challenge Jan. 11-22, with nearly $500 of that coming on the last day. 

As a reward, students got to duct tape principal Theresa Taylor to the cafeteria wall during lunch Monday, Jan. 25. 

The funds will go to the school’s Leveled Library, which “basically touches every kid in the school” through having books for all grade-levels, PTO president Amanda Ross explained. 

The PTO originally set a $1,700 goal, but after that was quickly reached, they upped it to $2,500. A magician will also visit the school in February to reward the students.


Verona Area School District: Related arts schedule to change again

Verona Area School District elementary schools will not continue the six-day related arts schedule in 2016-17.

The four attendance area schools and New Century School had switched from a five-day schedule to six days for the 2015-16 school year to take care of equity issues with number of classes missed. But, as three principals told the board Monday night, the change caused more problems than anticipated.

“The rotation schedule really isn’t sufficiently meeting what we thought would be those positive outcomes and is in fact creating some challenges we didn’t foresee,” Country View Elementary School principal Michelle Nummerdor said.


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