A rundown of the North Platte public school board meeting on July 12:
North Platte Foundation Director Terri Burchell said the week of Aug. 23 will be the Back to School Bash with Change Wars and Dine Out to Donate, among other events, concluding with the Back Yard BBQ and Education Afterhours.
Burchell noted that distinguished alumni will be recognized at the Afterhours event.
The 2020 distinguished alumni are Ronnie Baker 1961, Cheryl (Edis) Erickson 1962 and Dr. Richard Hansen 1970. The 2021 distinguished alumni are Deborah Murphy 1968, Marvin Webb 1965 and Gil Wilkinson 1960.
Superintendent Dr. Ron Hanson said the National Federation of Urban and Suburban School Districts convention will be held Oct. 9-12 in North Platte. The convention was scheduled for 2020 but was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The October North Platte Public School Board meeting will need to be moved to Oct. 4 to accommodate board member and administration attendance at this conference.
Vice president Jo Ann Lundgreen praised Student Services Director Brandy Buscher and School Resource Officer Jeremiah Johnson for the work they do. She also thanked teachers and others for all the work that happens over the summer.
President Skip Altig agreed with Lundgreen and added a thank you for the custodians who do work over the summer to prepare the buildings for students returning in the fall.
Approved the agenda for the July 12, 2021, regular meeting of the Board of Education
The publication of the July 12, 2021 regular meeting of the Board of Education
The minutes of the June 14, 2021, regular meeting of the Board of Education
The minutes of the June 14, 2021, Bullying Hearing
The minutes of the June 14, 2021, American Civics Hearing
The minutes of the June 14, 2021, Parent Involvement Hearing
The minutes of the June 28, 2021 Board of Education Work Session
The minutes of the July 1, 2021, meeting of the Personnel, American Civic, Curriculum Student Services and Communication subcommittee of the Board of Education.
Approve the minutes of the July 8, 2021, meeting of the Finance, Facilities, Operations and Legislation subcommittee of the Board of Education.
Approve policy 5002.2 – Attendance Area Policy/Regulations
Approve 2021-22 Student Handbook
Approve 2021-22 NPHS Extracurricular Student Activities Handbook
Approve 2021-22 Certified/Classified & Substitute Handbooks
Approve the teaching contracts of Robert Wilson, Shelby Dietz and Megan Kelley effective for the 2021-22 school year
Approve financial claims and reports
A motion was made by Matthew Pederson and seconded by Jo Ann Lundgreen to approve the consent agenda. The board agreed unanimously.
Lyndsey Douglas, the Director of Elementary Curriculum, updated the board on the recently completed elementary summer extended learning program, which lasts for three weeks after the school year ends in May.
Douglas said 143 students signed up and on average 105 attended each day. Thirty-five students had perfect attendance and most students advanced in reading by one level. She said the focus was on reading, and math was incorporated too. Douglas plans to collaborate with Kids Klub to have more learning opportunities next summer.
Director of Human Resources, Kevin Mills, reported that North Platte Public Schools is fully staffed for the 2021-22 school year. Mills said 41 teachers have been hired from seven states, including 22 from Nebraska, five of whom are from North Platte.
He said the district offered financial hiring bonuses in special education, math and science, which has been successful. He’s hired eight special education teachers, two math teachers and three science teachers. Finding eight special education teachers in one year is unheard of, he said.
Finance Director Stuart Simpson presented the monthly report. He reminded everyone that the annual budget hearing will be held publicly at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 30.
Routine policy updates
Policies 2005, 3001, 3003, 3003.1, 3004.1, 3042, 3043, 5063 and 6036 are under review. Changes to the nine policies are recommended by the district’s school attorneys due to changes in state statutes, Hanson said. These policies will reviewed by board members and return for final approval at the August board meeting, Hanson said.
Also, Hanson presented proposed allowing part-time students to take core academic classes, not only electives that are allowed under the current policy. Also, part-time students would be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities following NSAA rules.
The board discussed the matter and asked about impact on full-time students. Hanson said part-time students would be accepted only if there is room in the classes or activities.
In response to another question, Simpson said the state provides proportional financial aid to the district for part-time students.
This proposal will come back for a vote at the next school board meeting in August.
Hanson outlined the plan for students returning to school in the fall. With continued emphasis on good hygiene, he anticipates nearly normal school procedures.
However, he noted that vaccination rates are relatively low in the area and said the district would work with Great Plains Health and West Central Health District to provide guidance for students and staff.
As it looks now, students and staff will not be required to wear masks, but the mask requirement may return if risk increases. He said volunteers will be allowed in buildings and required to wear a mask if they are not vaccinated. If a student has been exposed to COVID-19 and presents symptoms, they will be required to go home for a prescribed time.
Back to School event
Hanson said a Back to School event for staff is scheduled Aug. 10 and invited board members to attend. He said this year’s event will be relaxed and show the district’s appreciation for the hard work that went into being able to have in-person learning during last year’s pandemic. He said the social and emotional well-being of district employees is very important and hopes that this event will allow staff to reconnect.
The following residents in the district spoke during the time for public comments:
• Amber Berliner – 9162 S. Sierra Drive – Spoke in support of Lake Maloney School, and voiced concerns of over-reacting to threat of COVID-19. She said it is unproven that kids carry the virus, and she believes there are social and interpersonal detriments to wearing masks. She said the Lake school has a high percentage of High Ability Learners and thanked the board for supporting the school.
“What we need is sustainability (at the Lake school),” she said.
• Sarah Talbott – 757 E. Briarwood Lane – also spoke in support of Lake Maloney school. She said she has heard rumblings again that the school is on the chopping block. She urged the district to look to parents who are business owners for solutions if solutions are needed. She said business owners are creative.
• Elizabeth Tegtmeier – 1121 Custer Ct. – Thanked the board and administration for taking a clear stance in opposition to the first draft of the proposed Nebraska Department of Education health curriculum. She invited each of them to attend a presentation at 7 p.m. on Aug. 12 at Harvest Christian Fellowship on the proposed comprehensive sex education and critical race theory.
The board approved a plan for the schools to co-op with Ogallala Public Schools for swimming and diving for the next two years. The topic was discussed at the previous meeting and came forward for action.
Ogallala Public Schools is asking to co-op with NPPS for two years. At least two Ogallala students would like to join North Platte’s team. Matthew Pederson moved to approve the agreement and it passed unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 6:31 p.m., one hour after it began.
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