Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 26, 2004

Crowd asks board to keep counselor position

By Lynda Jensen

A small army of impassioned parents, students, and teachers attended the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school board meeting to prevent a proposed cut of chemical dependency counselor Jodi Woyke’s position.

Taking turns, the crowd of about 70 pressed the board to keep Woyke, imploring them to measure her positive impact to students, staff members, and the community at large.

The number of students Woyke affects would be impossible to tell because “so many pop in and out,” nurse Marilyn Twitchell said. “They seek her out.”

“How could we manage without her?” Twitchell asked.

Choir director Chris Starr read a statement describing Woyke as spirited and gifted.

“Jodi fills a very vital and important role in the counseling staff,” Starr said. “If her position is cut, there is no one on the staff who can pick up her job duties. The students and the teachers will lose an essential member of our staff.”

Former principal Curt Levang agreed, saying that there is no one in the district who can absorb Woyke’s position, and those who try won’t fit well into the role.

“Some of these kids are crying for help,” Levang said. “And they don’t cry very loud.” The CD position is one of the most critical at the school, he said.

“She is such an integral part of the community,” commented math teacher Jeff Granrud.

“I have watched her work with the kids. She has an open-door policy,” Granrud added.

“The loss to our community will be more than you realize,” said parent Wendy Duske, who emphatically gave examples of how the cut would affect families.

“Our lives are different because of your CD (chemical dependency) department,” Duske said.

“I know there are funds in the bank,” Granrud said. “There’s got to be another way to keep Jodi on the staff.”

It was noted at the time that the board told many people after the operating levy failed to pass that it would not make cuts. This was acknowledged by the board.

However, Board Chairman John Lideen noted that the district must be realistic with its financial situation, although it was clear that the board was inclined to retain Woyke.

“As a responsible school board, we have to look at the total budget,” he said.

“We don’t look to make cuts that affect students directly,” Lideen said. This sentiment was echoed by other board members.

Board Member Charlie Borrell asked for less dramatic cuts, motioning to the large crowd.

It was suggested giving the administrative staff a percent to cut and have them make suggestions.

The board referred the preliminary budget back to committee, which contained the proposed cut for Woyke in it.

The preliminary budget will be discussed at a special meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 27 at the HLWW media center.

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