By Tim Huether
With the class sizes at the grade school increasing, the Bennett County School Board discussed the possibility of moving the sixth graders to the Junior High building next year.
Superintendent Stacy Halverson said that with grades K, 1 and 2 having 45-50 students, they will be looking at class size reduction next year and would likely need to move the sixth grade to the Jr. High. There is available classrooms at the junior high building but the number of available lockers was not known.
Halverson asked the board if that is the direction they would like her to move in as they will need to plan now for next year, including adding additional staffing.
The board was in agreement with Halverson’s suggestions and gave her the approval to look further into that.
The board heard a presentation from GENPRO Energy Solutions on LED lighting for the school district. Representatives from GENPRO said the advantages for the district are: they are very efficient; LED helps the students concentrate better; longer life to the bulbs; its environmentally safe; and there is a 0 percent loan for 10 years available.
Many state schools have either updated or changed out their lighting to LED, including Gordon, Neb. The savings is said to offset the costs down the road, plus you have much better lighting conditions.
Board member Todd Alexander asked what the average cost has been for the schools they have done and they said it varies from $70,000 to $1.4 million, depending on the needs for the school. Gordon was around $200,000.
If the board decided to do the project, it would take approx. 4-6 weeks to do. The board can also put the project to bid and not do it after getting the cost. The board appeared to be in favor of looking further into it, but could not take action at that time.
In administrative reports, Superintendent Halverson updated the board with good news that the State Report Card is out and the High School and Grade School have been removed from school improvement status.
Halverson said the library is getting good use and they now have 26,364 books, valued at $346,800 and over 4,000 people have used the library in the past year. They have five new computers in the library and will be putting four Imacs and a Macbook up for surplus that are old library computers.
School lunch and breakfast numbers are good said Halverson. She said the school also made both accountability standards for teacher pay.
Jr. High Principal Belinda Ready reported on the accountability report, Professional Development meetings, Parent Involvement meetings. Thursday was Bagels and Books with parents having breakfast with their child.
Ready said the Schoolwide/District Plan has been submitted and a Geography Showcase will be held Tuesday, Oct. 25. Red Ribbon Week activities are being held this week. An Artist in Residence will be held Nov. 6-10 and the Veteran’s Day Program will be Friday, Nov. 10, at 10 a.m.
High School Principal Nick Redden said 62 percent of the students were represented at Parent Teacher’s Conferences.
He gave a presentation to the board on the school’s Facebook pages for each school. It will be informational only with no messaging allowed and the principals are the contact for each page.
With the Jr. High and High School closed because of fire alarm issues, an In-Service was held. Because all staff was present, the students will not need to make up that day.
Redden updated the board on the fall sports playoffs and remaining volleyball matches. He said Taylor Byerley qualified for the State Cross Country Meet in Rapid City. Jr. High girls basketball has started with 18 girls out so far with more expected. Honors Band performed in White River last week.
Amie Kuxhaus, Grade School Principal reported on the School Wide Plan and the 2017-18 focus. Daily attendance is at 94.02 percent, with 70 percent of the students having a 94 percent rate or better. Regarding student behavior, there were 258 office referrals.
For the schoolwide goals: 40 percent of the students will be proficient in math on SFAC for the school year; 50 percent of the students in reading; 78 percent of the students will have 94 percent or better attendance; MGS will decrease the number of office referrals by 20 percent, or 52 less referrals.
Minutes of the Sept. 18, 2017 regular board meeting were corrected to reflect that Todd Alexander voted Nay on approving the tax levy request for the 2017-18 school year. Board president Mike Olson apologize to Alexander saying he did not hear him vote nay. Neither business manager or the Booster reporter heard the nay.
The board accepted the resignation of Jr. High instructor Kathryn Buchy, effective October 29, with liquidated damages of $2,500.
The board approved the contracts of: Summer Henry, para-professional, $11 per hr.; Brittney Soderlin, concessions supervisor, $1,500; Tania Kuxhaus, para-professional, $11 per hr.
The board declared nine 4x4 windows with no frames as surplus.
The board was informed the insurance company is raising the overall rate by 3.4 percent on Jan. 1, increasing the schools cost about $14,000 overall. The board agreed is was not fair to the staff and said the school should make up the difference.
The next board meeting is Nov. 20.