Saturday, August 8, 2020

Tomah School Board does not support resolution to ban Native mascots

If the Wausau School District wants to continue building momentum to ban the remaining 31 Native mascots in Wisconsin schools, it will do so without support from the Tomah School District.

Earlier this month the Wausau School Board passed a resolution calling for lawmakers to ban Native American mascots at Wisconsin public schools districts. It calls for the state to mandate the removal of Native American mascots, symbols, images, logos and nicknames on the basis that usage impairs the educational experiences of all community members. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards will look at the proposal in September. If approved by the Policy and Resolutions Committee and then at the annual Delegate Assembly meeting in January, the association can lobby legislators about the issue.

On the agenda for the Tomah School Board to consider was 'discussion and possible consideration for approval of support of the Wausau school district's resolution'.

Tomah superintendent Cindy Zahrte said the district retired its Indian mascot in 2007.

"The community felt it was time and Native American people don't see (mascots) as an honor."

Zahrte said support of the Native ban is on par with the district's ban of the Confederate flag and its likeness from school grounds.

"There are rights and there are wrongs," Zahrte said.

After discussion, Zahrte asked for a motion on the resolution. But board members in attendance, Gary Grovesteen, Jerry Fushianes, John McMullen and Nancy McCoy did not offer a motion so there was no action to consider.

General sentiment among the board, supporting the resolution could send the wrong message to other districts.

Fushianes was not comfortable with the Tomah School Board taking that role.

"I don't feel we should tell other districts what to do," Fushianes said.

Said McCoy, "I feel it could conflict with other districts and we don't want to tell them what to do."

District business manager Greg Gaarder feels school districts should not be making this decision.

"I don't like using our students as activists," Gaarder said. "I'm tired of our district being put in the middle. (School) districts have to be the bad guys. Legislators should be making these decisions."

McMullen concurred with the general sentiment.

"I don't see a pressing need to tell other districts what decisions they should come to," McMullen said.

Other board action

The board approved two overnight stays for the THS Limited Edition Show Choir and show band for its upcoming competition season. The group will travel to Bettendorf, Iowa Feb. 7-9 and St. Paul, Minn. Feb. 28-29. The show choir is cutting two other performances for the season to accommodate the Bettendorf and St. Paul competitions.

The board approved a proposal to replace the HVAC controls at Tomah High School at a cost of $324,374. The board also gave its approval for a request for proposal to install roof top units for the boys and girls locker rooms at the high school. The equipment is needed to improve air movement in the locker rooms.

With the first day of school on Sept. 3, Zahrte said all teaching positions have been filled in the district. There are 36 new professional/teaching staff in the district this school year, she added. The district is still hoping to fill a vacancy for a speech pathologist.

The latest teaching contracts offered:

Kyle Kikta, TMS Special Education LD Teacher

Autumn Hayes, TMS School Counselor

Joie Zimmerman, Lemonweir Special Education LD Teacher

Evans Print & Media Group

1302 River Rd.
P.O. Box 252

Sparta, WI 54656-0252

Office Number: (608) 269-3186
Fax Number: (608) 269-6876


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