Enrollment in the North Platte public schools is steady this year, after dipping by more than 100 students a year ago.
There are only 3 fewer students this year compared to the same time last year – the last Friday in October, Business Manager Stuart Simpson told the school board Monday.
This year, total enrollment is 4,013.
Enrollment is a key factor in the schools’ finances. The district typically receives about $8,500 in state aid for each student.
A year ago, the decline in students was a prime factor in the elimination of some positions and cuts in extended workdays for counselors, psychologists and industrial arts teachers.
Simpson said virtually steady enrollment is good news, and he said that the count is more exact than ever.
“Each student receives a unique identifier to eliminate student duplications,” he said. “They (Nebraska Department of Education) have a reciprocating agreement between Iowa, Kansas, Wyoming and South Dakota, so students that cross the border are not counted.”
Also, Simpson said the district is moving toward drug testing for students in extra-curricular activities.
A drug testing policy is under development now, and could come forward for board approval in February, Simpson said.
Students in extra-curricular activities are role models for other students, and key to the aim of providing high-quality educational programs, he said.
“We believe that the most effective deterrent to drug usage is openness and communication among students, parents and the school community,” he wrote in a document for the school board.
The school board routinely accepted an audit Monday of the district’s finances, although there was no indication that the board members had read it.
The state requires an independent annual audit. On Monday, acceptance of the audit was the only action the school board took during the 90-minute meeting.
Business manager Stuart Simpson told the board the audit was clean, and he thanked the diligence of three assistants in the business office.
“Their work is essential to get us to where we are now,” Simpson said.
He told board members they could download a copy of the audit if they were up at night and wanted to read.
Simpson said the information that is required in the state audit changes from time to time. Next year, the audit must record the finances at each individual school location, which will present a new challenge, he said.
The school board heard several other reports — from subcommittees, and about finances, foundation fundraisers, camera security at the high school, option enrollment, the 2019-20 school calendar, as well as a report from Madison School Principal Danny McMurtry about respectful, positive behavior intervention and support for students.
The meeting was plagued. as is often the case, with microphones that weren’t used properly.
Associate Superintendent Tami Eshleman spoke at some length three times, but her microphone wasn’t working the last two times, so it was difficult to hear what she said from the seats, or on the closed television channel at home.
No one brought Eshleman a new microphone, nor did she ask for one.
Near the end of the meeting, Simpson said he is considering buying a completely new sound system for board meetings. He also said the closed circuit television broadcast of board meetings will probably be eliminated.
Superintendent Ron Hanson, who has also had trouble making himself heard with the microphone at board meetings, did not speak at Monday’s meeting.