By Alyssa Frierson

The Wausau School Board met on Monday, discussing topics ranging from a possible future referendum to recognition for outstanding teachers and a possible national designation for one local elementary school.

Last year the Wausau School Foundation introduced the first SPARK award, which is given to outstanding teachers and school staff members. This year marked the first time the foundation received nominations from parents and a student.

A total of 13 SPARK awards were given. The list of 21 nominees ranged from teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty to make their students feel wanted and make homerooms special, to social workers who do laundry after school hours. A $50 gift certificate was given to each recipient in appreciation.

Thomas Jefferson Elementary is one of eight schools across Wisconsin eligible to apply for a Blue Ribbon School designation. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps. Every year the U. S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels.

Superintendent Kieth Hilts said he is thrilled for the opportunity.

“We’re proud of them for that achievement, for closing gaps, even to be eligible to apply for that award is wonderful,” Hilts said on Monday.

More than 9,000 schools across the country have been presented with this coveted award. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content. The National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing an entry or flying overhead is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning.

Staff at Thomas Jefferson will be recognized at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

In addition to the awards and recognition discussed Monday, the board authorized school officials to develop a proposal for a potential future referendum. The issue was most recently discussed at the education operations committee meeting in January. No significant updates to the proposal were given during Monday’s meeting, but further updates are expected in the coming weeks.