EES School News brings the scoop to students

Posted 2/15/22

Board talks through ESSER III fund uses ELLSWORTH – There’s a new news source in town for Ellsworth Elementary School students, and it’s not The Journal. Fifth grade teacher Jeff Fahrendorff is …

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EES School News brings the scoop to students


Board talks through ESSER III fund uses

ELLSWORTH – There’s a new news source in town for Ellsworth Elementary School students, and it’s not The Journal.

Fifth grade teacher Jeff Fahrendorff is heading up an after-school club called EES School News. The group, which boasts about 15 fifthgraders, splits into two and meets two nights a week to create a newscast for their EES peers. The newscast is shown the next morning in place of


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morning announcements.

The kids do the majority of the work, Fahrendorff said. They read scripts, come up with new ideas for the newscast, create backgrounds and videos, research fun facts, read the scripts and perform video editing. Student Viola Schmidt explained to the Ellsworth School Board at its Monday, Feb. 14 meeting how she edits the newscast to create a seamless production. This involves incorporating videos and interviews, different backgrounds, text boxes and captions, to name a few elements. The board watched the latest edition of the newscast, giving it a resounding round of applause.

“Viola did 95% of the editing,” Fahrendorff said. “We’ve been burning the midnight oil.”

The newscast, narrated by two “news anchors,” provides students with helpful and fun information, such as a weather report, the lunch menu, an inspirational quote or two, happy birthday shoutouts, a joke of the day, an interview with a particular grade level on what they’re learning, a segment called “Name That Teacher,” Mr. Whalen’s Panther Minute and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Superintendent Barry Cain, whose office is in the elementary school, said his day just doesn’t seem right if he doesn’t hear the joke of the day.

ESSER 3 Funds

Cain went over the latest news on ESSER III funds, which are the Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund grant funds authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act. The money provides schools additional money to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID19.

Ellsworth Community School District has $999,891 in ESSER III funds available. Here is how the board approved using those funds: For the 2021-2022 School Year ($479,171.62)

•Math curriculum materials – $104,000

•Math specialist – $85,847

•Reading specialist – $113,108

•Summer School – $176,215.52 For the 2022-2023 School Year ($520,719.38)

•Math curriculum training – $16,000

•Summer School 2022 – $176,215.52

•Middle School chiller – $300,000

•Substitute staff – $28,503.86 The board also held a public hearing, reviewed and approved the Safe Reopening of Schools Plan for the 2021-22 school year. The board originally approved the plan on Aug. 16, 2021, but all school districts receiving ESSER III funds must review the plan every six months, Cain said. Changes to the plan are minimal, but there are a few.

For example, at the high school, the following practices are no longer in place:

•Assigned seating by class cohorts in the cafeteria to support physical distancing and possible contact tracing

•Students will be escorted to and from the lunchroom

•Minimize unstructured hallway time at the start of the day.

At the middle school, staggered lunch time dismissals with a teacher escort to the cafeteria have been eliminated, along with use of the isolation room and health aide position to keep symptomatic students isolated from the rest of the kids.

At the elementary school, classrooms are no longer organizing seating to maximize social distancing.

Also at the elementary school, families of students within an entire classroom in which a positive case is identified are notified. At all schools, in instances in which large numbers of close contacts with a positive case are likely, the building administrator may send an email notifying the entire classroom, grade level or building of a possible close contact, if deemed appropriate.

“We’re probably pretty similar to the vast majority of districts in our area,” Cain said.

Due to federal mandates, students are still required to wear masks on school buses, Cain said. However, it’s not being heavily enforced, he said. The district puts itself at risk for potential lawsuits if it doesn’t follow a federal mandate. All public transportation in the nation is under a mask mandate.


The board approved the following personnel changes: Hires: Kyle Dahlquist, EES special education teaching assistant; Bailey Roche, district longterm substitute teacher; Will Seward, district long-term substitute teacher Retirements: Mary Lewien, EHS/EMS art teacher; Kathy Thoner, EMS administrative assistant Resignations: Maisie Dahl, school psychologist; Cherri Peterson, occupational therapist assistant; Ally Runyon, EMS special education teaching assistant Extracurricular: Diana Lange, EMS girls head track coach Other business

•The board approved a contract with Rice Lake Glass & Door in the amount of $89,612 for the replacement of exterior aluminum doors at the high school. This came in under the estimated cost of $108,000.

•The board approved a contract with Bartingale Mechanical for $251,307 for the middle school chiller project. This came in significantly under the projected estimate of $325,000. The projects will be completed this summer.

•The board approved 4YK early admittance for a female born on Sept. 2, 2018 for the 2022-23 school year.

•The board heard an extensive update from EES Principal Mary Zimmerman on the math curriculum process for grades K-5. The board will vote on the curriculum recommendations at the March meeting.