SP parents: feeling safer, still skeptical

There’s still work left to do, but Stoner Prairie’s principal and some parents of students at the school expressed hope last week that behavioral problems are improving at the school.

The monthly principal and community meeting once again focused on behavior again this month after a March meeting that drew around 50 attendees and included harsh criticism of a system the parents said led to continually misbehaving students – sometimes violently.

That meeting led to a new behavioral specialist position for the remainder of the school year, but the man hired to fill it left for family health reasons just 10 days after starting.


Board hears frustrations over testing, discipline

Photo by Scott Girard. Verona Area High School senior Noah Roberts told the school board Monday night about his problems with the school district’s behavior policies and received a standing ovation from some parents in attendance.

The Verona Area School District’s meeting room was filled with applause Monday night following testimony from parents and students on problems in the district.

The loudest, accompanied by a standing ovation from some of the crowd that filled nearly every seat, followed input from Verona Area High School senior Noah Roberts.

“I am the one who will live with the result of your system,” Roberts said of the “widespread discontent” about the district’s behavioral policies. “If you are trying to help students become successful in life, make them accountable. The administrators have been undermining the teachers and empowering the students to believe they are entitled.”


Board increases open enrollment spots

The Verona Area School Board increased the number of open enrollment spots again this year after there were more openings at elementary schools than initially expected.

The board approved 78 spots for students to open enroll into the district in January, and it increased that to 99 at its May 18 meeting after principals came back with updated enrollment projections. The new openings included 12 for kindergarten, which previously had none. There were 41 requests to open enroll kindergartners into the district.

Last year, the board initially approved 30 before adding more spots in July. The district has decreased the number of open enrollees it’s allowed in the past two years after open enrollment had served as a major budget boon during the preceding years. The board has cited growing student populations within the district as a reason to keep the numbers lower, as some elementary schools near or surpass their capacities. 


VHS Letter refutes gun rumor

A Facebook post detailing an incident involving a gun at Verona Area High School has prompted a letter from the district denying the incident occurred.

And Verona police say they have no record of such an event.

The rumor, circulated through a photo of text on Facebook, said two “rival gang members” had pulled out guns in a classroom and waved them around while the rest of the class hid under their desks. The post claimed there was no lockdown at the school nor a letter sent home. 

Verona Area School District superintendent Dean Gorrell flatly denied the incident in a letter home to parents.

“There has not been a single incident at the high school this year that has involved guns or weapons of any sort,” Gorrell wrote. 


Country View, New Century concerts

Students at Country View Elementary School and New Century School got to show off their singing, dancing and other musical talents last week at concerts for their families and friends. Country View students sang and danced for their parents at grade-level concerts May 7 and 8 on the school’s stage throughout the school day. New Century held its annual concert at the Verona Area High School Performing Arts Center the evening of Tuesday, May 5. NCS also featured students’ artwork in the back of the auditorium.


St. Andrews Academy performs 'The Music Man'

St. Ambrose Academy students perform "The Music Man" Sunday, April 19, at the Verona Area High School Performing Arts Center. The students tell the tale of River City, Iowa and its dealings with con man Harold Hill.


Behavioral specialist leaves Stoner Prairie

A new staff behavioral specialist was one of the key components of a plan to answer recent parent critiques of behavior at Stoner Prairie Elementary School. 

After 10 days, the person hired for the position left, leaving the school looking for a replacement. 

Doug Rykal, who had previously worked with Stoner Prairie principal Mike Pisani in Middleton, cited “family reasons” for his decision to leave. 

“Total family move,” Rykal told the Press, adding that his experience while at the school had “none whatsoever” impact on the decision. He did not want to comment on his time at the school, because he said it was so brief.


Board to consider more open enrollment spots May 18

The Verona Area School Board has initially capped open enrollment at much lower levels the past two years compared with previous years.

Last year, it ended up adding spaces, but it wasn’t until July, which left many of the spaces unfilled as most families had already finalized their school arrangements before that time.

Administrators are hoping a little earlier action on the waiting list will help fill those spots this year, and VASD business director Chris Murphy told the board Monday he expects to bring a request for more openings to the May 18 meeting.

The board initially approved 78 open enrollment spots in January, with none in kindergarten.


Sugar Creek Thai dance performance

On Monday, May 4, dancers from Thailand performed for students at Sugar Creek Elementary. Sugar Creek is the only elementary school in Wisconsin to participate in the International Sunrise Program. As part of the program, five to six students and one teacher from Thailand enroll in the school and live with host families in the area. They learn about American culture and offer insight into the language and culture of Thailand through demonstrations such as the one on Monday.

Study: Lots of problems with Sugar Creek, New Century

An architecture firm studying four Verona Area School District buildings found a range of problems at the oldest one, and bad news on potential expansions at the others.

The district hired Eppstein Uhen: Architects (EUA) last November to review the Sugar Creek, New Century, Country View and Verona Area High School buildings to look at their capacity and long-term viability.

NCS and Sugar Creek are housed in the oldest buildings in the district, and some of the potential problems those buildings might have could be tough to fix, study representatives told the school board Monday night.


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