With the 2019-20 school year just around the corner on July 1, Stoughton School Board president Frank Sullivan announced committee chairs for the coming year on Monday night.

The chairs are: Joe Freye (employee relations), Jon Coughlin (finance), Steve Jackson (facilities, insurance), Tim Bubon (policy), Kathleen Hoppe (ad hoc, CESA), Yolibeth FitzGibbon (calendar) and Alison Sorg (Wisconsin Association of School Boards).

In another shuffle of board members’ responsibilities, Sullivan announced that Bubon, who was elected treasurer at the board’s reorganization meeting last month, decided to resign that position to concentrate on heading up the policy committee, a key leadership position in the district.

“In discussing it, it became clear that it would not be reasonable for him to do both the treasurer job and chair of the policy committee job,” Sullivan said. “I’ve seen tonight and through previous meetings the work that the policy committee is doing and continues to do.”

“I feel like I accomplished a lot in two weeks,” Bubon joked.

“We’re still solvent” Sullivan quipped back. “I want to thank him for stepping up (to take on the role of treasurer) and then thank him also for making the choice that I think will make our policy committee work best for the next year.”

Jon Coughlin and Alison Sorg were nominated to fill the position, with Sorg declining “at this time.” Coughlin was selected unanimously.

Policy discussions continue

This spring, school board members have been taking a meeting each month to go line by line through the district’s policies, based on recommendations from administrators and the policy committee. The goal is to update the policies, which in some cases have not been adjusted for several years.

Sullivan thanked policy committee chairman Bubon and committee staff members “who are going through all the policies and reviewing them and proposing things that reflect Stoughton values and the way we do things here in the district.”

Board members discussed about a dozen policies, mostly concerning public information, media relations, school visitors and relationships with outside organizations. It was discussion only, with action expected later in the year, said district superintendent Tim Onsager.

“This is the first read for the board on these,” he said. “Eventually all the policies will come back to the board in one swoop.”

Telling their story

Jackson had some questions about suggested changes to the media sections of the policy, where several previous sentences were struck, including that building principals be tasked to “keep media representatives fully informed with regard to the school system in all aspects, activities, and changes, so that any reporting will be done on the basis of a complete and valid overview” and “submit, suggest or request feature stories or articles to media representatives which are of interest or importance.”

Jackson questioned why those passages were marked to be removed.

“We’ve had lots of discussion about not telling our story as completely as possible,” he said. “Does this prohibit us or in any way inhibit us?”

Onsager said it did not.

“This just says, ‘keep them informed of all aspects,’ and we can’t keep them informed of all aspects,” he said of the news media. “This does not prohibit us from telling our story, or from keeping them informed of a lot of different things.”

Sullivan said he agreed with the need for the district to communicate with media, but said he “wondered if that’s the best use of a principal’s time.” He noted the district currently has a community relations director, Derek Spellman, who handles media relations.

“I think we all agreed on the need to affirmatively tell the district’s story, but the responsibility for coordinating should fall on the central office, not on people like (River Bluff principal) Ms. (Trish) Gates, who already has things to do.”

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