Students honored at board meeting

LUSK – The Niobrara County School District Board recognized students of the month during its second meeting in November on Monday. 

Lusk Elementary and Middle School (LEMS) Principal Lucinda Kasper recognized second grader Xavier Munoz and third grader Carmela Beslich for the month of September as well as fifth grader Talan Stallman for the month of October. Kasper also recognized second grader Dexter Kremers as the student of the quarter at Lance Creek Elementary. 

Niobrara County High School (NCHS) Principal Robyn Heth recognized eighth grader Royal Kremers as the student of the month of September for the middle school. Seniors Walter Kupke and Jaden Stauffer were the high school students of the month for September and October. 

Each student received a plaque and a blanket to commemorate the honor.  

Superintendent George Mirich presented awards the board received during the annual state school board conference. Trustee Cheryl Lund received the Award of Distinction Level I, and former Trustee Tina Christianson received the award for 2020 as well. 

The board also received the award for the standard of excellence for 2020 and 2021. Mirich added the board has now won the award three years in a row. 

During reports, Special Education Director Hunter Kunnerth gave an update on the rewriting of Chapter 44 by the state which related to special education funding. 

“It looks like they are cutting a lot. They’re really not,” Kunnerth said. “They’re just making Medicaid credible.” 

Kunnerth said Wyoming will be able to bill Medicaid starting next school year. The district will not be required to bill Medicaid but will need to track how students are eligible. 

“Amongst the directors the discussion was if we start to do this, [it] will ideally reduce special education funding in the state and hopefully keep us away from the cap,” Kunnerth said.    

In other administrator reports, Kasper thanked everyone for coming to the Veterans Day program. 

“They did such a wonderful job,” Kasper said. “It was just a nice program overall.” 

Kasper also talked about “Tiger Families” where staff members pair up and teach social skills to eight to nine students during their years at LEMS. Kasper invited the board members to their Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday. 

During the superintendent report, Mirich talked about the outdated PA systems in both buildings. Mirich said the system at LEMS received a temporary fix a couple of years ago and now needs to be permanently fixed. The high school system is in a similar situation. 

“It’s an even older device and it works from the office standpoint, but it doesn’t work throughout the building as far as being able to hear and tell what’s being said,” Mirich said. 

The bell system also required a computer program, and the computer does not exist anymore. Mirich said he had someone go through to see how much it would cost. 

“Not only was it expensive, it’s really expensive,” Mirich said. “Just in the past eight months it’s been a 40% increase on both parts and labor.” 

The project will require to be bid out if the board decides to go through with it. 

Trustee Candy Dooper asked if the project will include the gym’s sound system citing issues in previous years of people not able to hear speeches during graduation. 

Mirich said there has already been a full upgrade in the gym. Trustee Loren Heth added the old system was used for graduation last year. Mirich said they will make sure the new equipment is used for the next graduation. 

Mirich also gave an update on the search for a new full-time custodian. Mirich said the building and grounds director met with a local group who does local contract custodial work. Mirich told the board they could be a more cost-effective option but also said there would be strict guidelines in the contract including background checks and having a specific pool of people who can work at the school. 

Heth said there have been issues in the past with similar hiring and fraternizing with students will also need to be addressed in the contracts. 

Before moving to action items, Dooper praised the students on the Veterans Day program and the junior class play. Chairwoman Lexie Ashurst also recognized the hard work of all the juniors who had a part in putting on the play and thanked Norma Langston for leading it every year. 

“One of the things that struck me was after the dress rehearsal and the matinee those kids were so proud. And they were back there behind the scenes the stars of the show high fiving the lights man and high fiving the curtain operator,” Ashurst said. “I was really moved by how they treated each other, and encouraged each other, and celebrated for each other.” 

The board transitioned to action items which included approving an isolation petition from Lisa Williams, accepting the resignation from custodian Denise Pavone, and acknowledging the receipt of home school petition from Crystal Peterson for one student for the remaining of the school year. 

After reviewing board evaluations, the board moved to executive session to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation. 

The next meeting will be Dec. 13 at 6 p.m.


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