Major projects making progress

Heather Goddard
Posted 10/11/23

LUSK - The software for the phone and communications system at the Niobrara county school district is so out of date that it is no longer possible to patch in updates.

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Major projects making progress


LUSK - The software for the phone and communications system at the Niobrara county school district is so out of date that it is no longer possible to patch in updates. This, combined with listing issues that make the district show up as “unknown” caller, and a myriad of other problems with end-line phones makes the new system that the board voted on Monday night a need, not just a want. The board approved the Merico bid for $43,622.27 for the new system.

Combined with the new intercom and audio/visual system will move the district in the direction of improving intraoffice and building-to-building communication, not to mention creating better options for remote learning and remote meetings/communication. The intercom system is stalled out waiting for more switches for the IT backbone. This is a COVID-related shortage. Originally the installation was planned for the December holiday break but Superintendent George Mirich is not sure if that will be on schedule until the new switches are in. These system changes have been in the works for the better part of two years with the technology upgrades to the board room necessary to improve the audio enough for remote meetings, zoom meetings and more.

Another large project that is being facilitated with the use of ARPA funds is the back-up generator. The project engineering is completed and the project contractor will be working through the complete process. Only one company submitted an appropriate bid.

Mirich also explained to the board and those present that in addition to the achievement data that was presented at the previous meeting, another important element is the accountability report on each building. The scale for this with the state is “not meeting”, “partially meeting” or “exceeds” for standards. For the first time since Mirich became the superintendent the high school is no longer on the comprehensive tool for improvement (not meeting). The grade school is at targeted school improvement however, this is largely due to the WYVA WYTOPP scores, and the bricks building is actually doing fairly well. The state does not differentiate between bricks and virtual for the overall status, though it does segregate the data to allow the district to break down where improvement needs done.

The Section C policy changes were passed on third reading and new section C policies passed on first reading. The discussion on these policies included the designation of the time period for updating the superintendent evaluation tool from “periodic” to “annual” as well as designating the timeline.

Policy BDDA was also passed on first reading and it includes verbiage that would allow the board to meet once a month decreasing obligations by the administrative team and hopefully improving public attendance. This does not mean the board can’t hold work sessions or special meetings should the need arise.

Coincidentally the second meeting of October will be used as a training session with the WSBA instead of the regular meeting.

In administrative updates, Kellie Brilbey reported that the number of WYVA students enrolled in special education continue to increase. and the special education staff will be attending a Title 9 training this week.

Prinicpal Katherine Kruse reported that the middle school girls won SEWAC and the board commended that team on their excellent season. The middle school cross country team just completed their inaugural season with three runners finishing in the top ten at their final meet of the year. Middle school football completed their season on Monday night and the weeks of October 9 and October 16 will begin the transition to the next sports season for middle school. Fall conferences for many of the clubs are wrapping up and the high school sports are currently mid-season.

WYVA Head of Schools Joe Heywood presented data on enrollment. WYVA currently sits at 624 enrolled students with another 55 pending. The school is now working hard on an improvement plan to overhaul the way that mathematics is taught to try and improve the WYTOPPs scores.

Katie Caffee’s office is working hard to complete all the required reports including the periodical reports due October 15 and the 100 ABC, 160 and 401 data validation. All financials are up to date as of last Wednesday. Clarification was requested by Joyce Hammer on the vendor “Huddle”. The is the game video storage and review service that the entire state uses. Also used for statistics and scouting. Hammer also requested an itemized expense list on the Hughes invoice.

Home school petitions for Jason and Shirley ZumBrunnen and Chelsea Waters were acknowledged. Shawna Rowley’s resignation effective October 31 was also accepted with regrets. Mirich thanked Rowley for “what she has done for the district working with the highest needs students and medically fragile. She has done an incredible job willing to be involved with the extracurriculars as the students have needed.”

A one year contract with Northeast BOCES for a student placement at the day school in Glendo was approved. The board also approved a new WYVA special education teacher and the new special education paraprofessional for the district.

Extensive discussion under old business regarding the recording and or live streaming of board meetings was held. Manning and Hammer both reiterated that a number of people would like recordings available for them to go back and watch. Manning wanted to know the pros and cons to the various options.

Zoom is available though the quality is poor. The new audio/video system will improve this and make the decision easier. The majority of the board agreed that live streaming may not be a feasible option. There was also the legality of recording, reviewing and posting that recording. It will need to be reviewed and posted on the website. This is an enormous responsibility that could take a lot of time depending on the meeting. There have been two lawsuits, one in Teton County and one in Campbell county over items that were recorded accidentally during executive session and not caught to delete before making the record available to the public. All agreed that they would like to do more research and then come back for more discussion at the next regular public meeting in November.

The meeting adjourned without executive session.