LUSK – The Niobrara County School Board met in the boardroom at the administrative building for their regular meeting on April 8, 2019 at 7 p.m. Chairman Joel Richardson called the meeting to order and the agenda was approved with the addition of two action items and removal of one action item.
Visitors and Public Comments:NCHS FBLA students reported to the board on their National Qualifying projects. Of the fourteen students who attended State, ten qualified for nationals and nine will be attending nationals. They provided information to the Board on their experiences at the State level as well as what they hope to do during their time in San Antonio, Texas at the National FBLA competition from June 27 to July 3. While in San Antonio they will have the opportunity to compete with the 17,000 other students from around the United States. They hope to experience the culture of San Antonio and participate in a service project. They will be working hard at various fundraising activities between now and June. Any support that the school board is able to provide will be greatly appreciated.
The Rawhide Robotics Team showed off their hard work that earned them a place of 26 out of 53 teams that competed at the Colorado Regional Robotics Competition. This competition is open to teams nationwide and consists of qualifying rounds against other teams to earn the team place. Rawhide Robotics competes against teams sponsored by NASA and with mentors that are NASA engineers. Placing in the top 30 is an achievement to be acknowledged. The Rawhide team is one of the smallest teams in attendances and they are only given six weeks to build this robot. Most teams have the resources to build multiple robots for practice and retain their old robots as well. This team not only is rarely able to build a second robot but often must reuse parts and supplies for the next years. Additionally, most students compete only in robotics whereas the Lusk team is comprised of students who also participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities making them one of the most well rounded teams. The school board commended mentors Katherine Kruse, Pat Weisbeck, John Thayer, Chantry Filener and Amy Filener for their obvious dedication and inspiration for the robotics team.
William Johnston provided the WYVA update, which included a review of the Board Report as presented in their board packets. He also presented the board with the Head of Schools search hiring process and timeline with a proposed tentative start or transition date of May 15. It was agreed that Mr. Mirich and individuals of his selection will be involved in face to face interviews.
Phil Garhart, Principal of NCHS provided updates on prom and post prom. He expressed appreciation for all of the support these events receive from community entities to make this event a success. An update on the Chromebooks use at the high school was given. The tracking and oversight software Hapara is helping students and staff to communicate about Internet use expectation and to monitor student activity for guidance in their decision-making. The NFHS Broadcast System project is making progress.
Business manager Stewart Larson reported that overall revenue is up. While WYVA revenue is over the allowed 15% it is projected that it will be within the allowed range by the end of the fiscal year. Utilization reports for free and reduced lunch program show a 31% enrollment. Daycare projections are showing that there should be a small balance to roll into the next fiscal year.
The LEMS Mustard Seed dinner has been postponed until April 17.
Superintendent George Mirich provided an update on his attendance to the National School Board Association National Conference in Philadelphia. Candy Dooper and Katie Kruse also had the opportunity to attend this year’s conference. There were may programs and workshops to choose from. Of particular interest to Mirich were the “Portrait of a Graduate” concept that is used as a roadmap for the building an educational system around a vision for graduates of the district, school resources officer programs and grant funding, school security systems that are portable and go beyond simple metal detectors, and digital school board information platforms. While there Mirich participated in a weekend backpack program for students. They packed enough food for 10,000 students for the weekend. He talked about how the experience helped him to understand the kind of system Niobrara County would need to have in place to run its own program.
The school district received a notification from the Office of Civil Rights in Denver that a complaint had been filed alleged a lack of accessibility for disable and wheelchair bound staff and students to the second floor of the high school. After investigation it was determined that since the portion of the building with the second floor was built in 1953 and has not received significant remodeling after 1977 the district was not required to retrofit that area and the preliminary summary was that the school was in compliance. It was noted that the other, more up to date portions of the building did need to follow ADA compliance and they were also okay.
An attorney has approached him about being the contract legal counsel for the district. Mirich is exploring the option and will report back to the board when he has more information.
Candy Dooper and Katie Kruse gave reports on their experiences at the NSBA Conference. They both thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to network with staff and school board members from rural districts around the United States and look forward to sharing their knowledge and experiences with other board members.
Following a two minute break the board approved the consent agenda and moved on to action items.
The network switches project involving the installation of new switches and an increase in access points has a total of $58, 458.34. 60 percent of the cost of this will be covered by eRate funding for a total expenditure to the district of $23,383.33. The contract and project were approved.
The board approved an English Language Learning position at .2 FTEs for WYVA and is now exploring a contract for two brick and mortar students. More information will be presented after further negotiations and research.
The Board moved to approve Amanda Dawson for the position of Payroll Clerk to be hired as a replacement for Tina Carstensen. At this time the board went into executive session at 8:50 p.m. for personnel. They resumed open session at 9:01 p.m. and approved Ms. Dawson’s hiring and offered their welcome. Ms. Dawson, who currently works at WYVA will transition to her new position on May 1.
The board approved new LEMS volunteer Johann Sednek and they also approved the hiring of John Thayer and Clare Heidel as SPED aides for the 2019 track season. The second reading of policies BDDA and BDDB with amendments was passed. Resignations of Kitson Boldon, Robert Weigel and Lindsey Allbright as coaches were accepted. The school board accepted a homeschool petition for three children by the Melnychuk family.
Strategic Planning sessions have been scheduled for 5 p.m.-9 p.m. on April 15 and April 29. Mirich proposed that the regular board meeting set for April 22 be moved to 5 p.m. on the 29 and be included in with the strategic planning session. The Board agreed to this schedule change.
Candy Dooper asked for clarification on the enrichment Fridays and if there is anything definitive for scheduling available yet. Mirich clarified that enrichment will be open to all students and at this time the plan is to run buses and serve meals on those seventeen Fridays. The exact hours of enrichment time are not yet know and detail will be more forthcoming after schedules have been finalized closer to the new school year
Meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.