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Baraboo incident discussed at Sauk Prairie School Board meeting

November 14, 2018
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Sauk Prairie School District Superintendent Cliff Thompson highlights important events happening in the district, such as American Education Week and the drama performances from Sauk Prairie High School and middle school.

“It is an unfortunate incident and I hope we won’t have anything similar here,” Sauk Prairie School Board Vice President Richard Judge said during the district’s Nov. 12 board meeting. Judge was addressing the inappropriate photo of a group of Baraboo High School boys with their hands up in a seemingly Nazi salute before spring prom now circulating the internet and social media.

“We’ve talked a lot about strategic planning for this district and developing a brand for our district and one that fits with our community,” Judge said. “I think today’s incident involving Baraboo High School shows how quickly a brand can unravel with one incident that gets out of hand. A lot of good work can go down the drain.”

Judge said he hopes school officials and students are taking the incident “very seriously” and will see the incident in Baraboo as a “teachable moment.”

“I would think those students in Baraboo mostly feel horrible and probably when the hammer comes down will feel a lot more horrible,” Judge said. “But I hope our students will do Sauk Prairie proud and not put us in a similar situation.”

Following board comment time, the board heard a presentation on Grand Avenue’s prior successes and continuing areas of focus by the school’s principal, Craig Trautsch.

“Whatever goes on here is because of the kids we have and the staff we have,” Trautsch said. “To see them work every day is truly an appreciation.”

Trautsch highlighted some of the extra work the teachers do for the school community, such as its recent Veterans Day event. The event brings in local veterans into the classroom. It’s been held for the past five years.

“I know it gives out fifth graders a special connection and understanding of what that day is all about,” Trautsch said.

As for academics, Trautsch said the school met its goal of scoring above the state average in advanced or proficient in all four core areas on the Wisconsin Forward exam. Trautsch said the school has been especially strong in math over the past four years. In 2017 for example, 57 percent of students at Grand Avenue scored proficient or advanced, whereas statewide that number was about 44 percent.

Trautsch also said the school’s percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced in social studies also came up from last year, when it scored below state average for advanced and proficient. In 2017 that number for Grand Avenue was just under 60 percent, where statewide the average was about 50 percent.

The school will continue to support a district-wide initiative to better understand the impact early childhood trauma has on a student’s learning. Trautsch said at Grand Avenue they have created a take-a-break space in each classroom; special areas designed to help keep students in class as much as possible.

“The intention with the space is to allow students to decide to break on their own or it could be a staff member asking the student to take a break,” Trautsch said. “The goal is for the student to go to that location, regroup and determine what wasn’t working successfully for them.” He said after about one to five minutes the student rejoins the class. “The goal is to keep the kids involved in the classroom, connected with the instruction and not missing any instructional points while they regroup,” Trautsch said.

The school has focused heavily on reading strategies for staff to help make them better reading teachers.

“We feel good about the direction we are moving into,” Trautsch said.

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