Should schools host community events?


LUSK – The Niobrara County School Board convened for its regular meeting on Monday at the Niobrara County School District office. During the superintendent’s discussion portion of the meeting, superintendent George Mirich asked the board members how they felt about allowing the community to use the school’s facilities. 

“In the Covid era, facility use has become an issue,” Mirich told the board. 

Mirich said very few schools in the state were allowing use of indoor facilities, but some were allowing use of the outdoor facilities. The topic brought about mixed feelings amongst the board. 

Clerk Randy Rose said, “I don’t like the idea of funerals in the high school auditorium. It’s an extremely difficult idea for kids to know there was a funeral in the school. It’s a bad idea.” 

Trustee Candy Dooper said, “it’s not posing any more of a threat than to watch a game or anything. The equipment stays there and is locked up. I don’t see where the activities pose any additional concern.”

The board members also discussed the issue of setting precedent if they were to open the facilities to anyone; stating they would have to open the facilities to everyone, at that point. 

No action was taken on the matter at this meeting, but it will likely be revisited in the future. 

Board chairperson Joel Richardson opened the meeting for public discussion. Kate Duffy discussed the possibility of establishing a softball team for the Niobrara County School District. Rose brought up there was already an established softball team through the community, while Richardson encouraged a conversation with the athletic director, Ryan Nelson.

During the meeting, trustee Loren Heth voiced concerns over The New York Time’s 1619 Project and inquired as to whether the schools would be taking part in the project. Heth said he had several people approach him about the 1619 Project and asked if its curriculum was being applied to the Niobrara County School District. Several school staff members present said their curriculum had not been changed and there was no mention of the 1619 Project. 

According to The New York Times, “the 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.” For more information on the project, visit nytimes.com.

In other business, students were credited with exhibiting good behavior throughout the past several weeks since school has been in session. School staff members are attributing the good behavior to positivity within the school for being allowed to be present in school. 

Staff members reported the summer reading program was a success. 44 students participated in the program and read for almost 40,000 minutes total over the summer.

The board approved homeschool petitions, an updated handbook for the Wyoming Virtual Academy, the addition of three WYVA teachers, the resignation of a WYVA teacher, an early graduation request, the hiring of a new guidance counselor and the expulsion of a high school student as the result of a disciplinary hearing. 

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