School Board outlines mission, vision for district


LUSK – The regular meeting of the Niobrara County School Board was called to order at 6:03 p.m. by Chairman Joel Richardson. In keeping with goals developed from the strategic planning Richardson reviewed the mission and vision of the district.

Mission: Inspire learning, empower innovation and honor community every day.

Vision:  All students enter the world with the skills and confidence to meet their challenges and, in turn, grow and serve others.

The agenda was approved as presented.

The board elected officers for the 2020 calendar year. Chairman will be Joel Richardson, Vice-chair is Katie Kruse. Candy Dooper was elected Treasurer and Randy Rose accepted the position of Board Clerk. Clarification was offered regarding the responsibilities of the Treasure and Clerk positions.

Visitors

NCHS Principal Phil Garhart presented the high school student of the month Wyatt Stuaffer. Lu Kaspers presented the LEMS students of the month Donovan Swisher and JW Klein. Staff of the Quarter Lindsey Allbright was congratulated on her accomplishments by administration and the board. 

The Golden Bell Award was presented to Rick Luchsinger by Loren Heth and George Mirich. This is a state-wide award for excellence in education. 

Information Items:

Earhart told the board enrollment at the high school has dropped again. Several students are either transferring or taking a different path with their education. The attendance rate is right around 94 percent and freshman will probably win the attendance award for the semester. Staff continue to update school improvement plans. Earhart also encouraged the board and those present to stop into the high school and look at the student art work posted in the hallways. Staff are working on creating a STEM Lab in the old computer lab. Lindsey Allbright is working on grants to try and fund that. Improvements will hopefully include 3-D printers, engineering equipment and robotics. 

LEMS Principal Lu Kaspers reported progress was made on the Backpacks program. This program sends food home with children over the weekend. She met with Teresa Tucker from Lusk ROCS and Hannah Swanbom with the Lusk Farmers Market about ways to fund the program. It has started small but looking to get up to about 20 kids. Tucker is working on a grant through the Episcopal Church. The committee is reviewing ways to obtain the food including looking to freeze leftovers from the school lunch program. The committee will meet again January 3. 

Two new students registered for kindergarten kids this week. Celine Hall did a really good job with the elementary Christmas music program, it was phenomenal. Kaspers extended an invitation to the board and public to attend the Lance Creek program on the 10 and the middle school program on the 12.

Joe Haywood with WYVA reported they are in the midst of middle year testing for Star 360. Next time Haywood will have data points from this and will also have updated enrollment numbers. He shared the DDI template for elementary used for the monthly one-on-one meetings with the teachers. Haywood feels this document is one of the more powerful pieces of the academic improvement programs in the school. 

Robyn Heth, district SPED director told the board that-two SPED state reports are due this month. One has to do with transition goals which is for kids that are going to be 16 or older transitioning them into whatever they would like to do after high school. Also have to do a self-assessment piece and the state requests 25 IEP Files to go through piece by piece. There is a workday scheduled to get these done. 

Business Manager Stuart Larson state that WDE auditors have still not followed up from their visit. The regular fiscal auditor will have the final report to Larson in the next week or two. His office has completed the cash request for the 2017-2018 SPED grant. He will be working on the 18-19 and this year to get caught up. General fund is up from last month but down from last November. $500,000 under where the district was at last year. Expenditures are also down $134,000 from last year. WYVA fund is up year over year. Well over 15% limit but that is due to tax deposits and will rectify by the end of the year. Food service numbers are down (fewer kids eating lunch and breakfast). 

Discussion was held regarding the best way to ensure access to the lunch menu for parents. The website glitches are being addressed and the menu is also available on the smart phone app for meals through January. Allbright is hoping to do a parent training to show parents how to access the website and navigate everything on it.

Superintendent George Mirich reminded members that the legislative dinner is January 15 in Douglas. A suburban will leave Lusk at 4:30 p.m. Board members are to let the office know if they would like to attend.

The staff development day on Dec. 6 was productive. Staff trained on grow share for the website and how to submit posts to be approved. Curriculum work was done and Mirich showed a video on PLC. He emphasized that this is a hectic and difficult time of year in the district and that they are just trying to keep up the momentum until Christmas break.

Candy Dooper congratulated the music department for the wonderful childrens concert. She stated that it was fantastic.

Consent Agenda: 

Candy requested to pull item B, Expenditures. 

Move to approve A, C and D in the consent agenda. 

Discussion: Annual Public Records Vendors? Adoption of Board banking and notification outlets. Lusk State Bank, Bank of the West and Lusk Herald as the newspaper. 

Motion carried.

Item B Expenditures was pulled from the consent agenda for questions. 

Inquiring regarding the LEMS Lighthouse Account. This was a $1,500 change and since Lighthouse is no more should this be changed or renamed?

WYVA Concurrent had a $5,600 expenditure. The district receives an invoice from EWC and pays them and then they pay the district back. If brick and mortar students want to take a dual credit class from EWC the student pays for it to begin with and then if they pass it the district reimburses them. The high school currently has several students taking dual enrollment classes online. The district has to pay for it in order for it to go on the high school transcript. If they pay for it and dont get reimbursed then it doesnt go on their high school transcript it is considered jump start. Concurrent is paid up front but dual enrollment is not.

Medicine Bow Technologies-This item is for the renewal of the domain name and a few additional services. They are providing fewer services than previously contracted. All services are online or remote support. They dont visit onsite anymore.

Had a driver involved in an accident. The value of the car was under the deductible so didnt have the option to purchase the car back. The car is in the shop to be repaired by Transportation director Kevin Gaukel and should be inexpensive to get it back on the road.

Motion to accept Item B, Expenditures was passed. 

Action Items:

A)Board meeting calendar for 2020

Second and fourth Monday of each month except for July and December. Approved the 2020 meeting calendar.

B) Volunteer Application: 

Moved into executive session for personnel at 7:11 p.m. and adjourned executive session at 7:21 p.m.

After a brief recess open session was resumed at 7:35 p.m.

Motion was made to accept the volunteer applicant, Bill Shoup to work at LEMS. Motion passed.

Old Business:

Superintendent Evaluation Policy-Board work session for this process on Thursday, Dec. 12 in the morning.

School Board Self-evaluation instrument. This is a form that has multiple parts from school board association from a consultant. WSBA is going to be creating their own board evaluation tool and then will publish it for all boards to use. Plan to address this at the second meeting in January.

How to develop a Professional Learning Community from Solution Tree Video. Mirich said the PLC concepts have been around for 20 years.

“This philosophy about education is global and isnt going to change or go away, Mirich said. This is what education is supposed to be about. Every school district in America is having the same discussions. Just because we are talking about them today doesnt make them a new concept.

He also talked about the idea that staff and administration must work through the process. They cant just expect to adopt the concept and tools and have them magically work.

C) Special education reporting at meetingsThe board wanted to check in and make sure that Robyn Heth, Joe Haywood, Lu Kaspers and Phil Garhart were finding it beneficial to be reporting twice a month or if once a month would be adequate. It was determined that once a month at the regular meetings would be adequate. Department Managers will be invited on a  rotating basis to ensure at least twice a year they provide updates.

D) Work Session Structure and purpose. Will continue to develop this and thens solidify the regular meetings as business with a different structure for work sessions (second meeting of the month).

Going back into executive session at 8:25 for personnel.

Adjourned following executive session.

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