The Broken Bow School Board met Monday evening, with the two items on the agenda generating the most discussion both being more civic related than education related.
Kevin Lindly appeared before the board on behalf of the Nebraska Free Masons. The Masons had previously requested permission to host a cornerstone ceremony at the new North Park school addition. At that time the board elected to further research the idea before making a final decision.
When asked by board president Michelle Zlomke why the Masons want to host a ceremony for a project they have no part in, Lindly explained, “It just helps instill a sense of pride. The cornerstone ceremony is a very impressive ceremony.”
Lindly also explained that a vault is placed behind the cornerstone which contains newspaper articles and documentation of who was present, as well as the events of the day. He says this helps preserve the history of the day. He says there have been approximately 530 buildings across the state of Nebraska which have been dedicated by the Free Masons.
“Most everybody who belongs to the Lodge is a taxpayer,” said Lindly. “They are proud of the school and proud of the moves forward.”
The item was only listed on the agenda as a discussion item, not an action item - and the board did not feel ready yet to make a decision regarding the request.
The other civic item discussed was the question of whether or not to adopt a Team Mates program into the Broken Bow schools. Team Mates representative Annette Woodhead presented the board with information on the program at the November board meeting, at which time the board felt that they needed to do further research.
Some of the concerns raised by board members included scheduling issues, and the possibility of adding an extra load to the school staff.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for our kids,” said assistant elementary principal Kirk Crawley when asked what the administration thinks of the idea. “Especially when we have an entity willing to take charge of it. I just think it’s a good opportunity for our kids.”
The recently re-formed Broken Bow Rotary Club has offered to fund the program, should the school decide to implement it. The school must next find someone within the school willing to take this on as their project. School Superintendent Mark Sievering says he believes it would be best if someone currently on the teaching staff who has a passion in this area would be willing to step up and take it on.
The board unanimously approved a motion to allow Sievering to meet with the school’s attorney to draft a memorandum of understanding between the school and the Rotary to get the ball rolling on the program.
Elementary Principal Kim Jonas then presented the board with information regarding the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) and NeSA (Nebraska State Accountability) results for Broken Bow Public Schools. The results show that while the elementary level students met AYP standards for the 2010-11 school year, those standards were not met by Broken Bow students in 2011-12.
Jonas explained that these standards also take all demographics into consideration, meaning all special education students and ELL students must also meet those requirements. These students did not meet the requirements in reading for the 2011-12 school year.
Jonas says that in two years no school in the state will meet AYP, because “it is impossible to make 100 percent.”
The news for the NeSA scores was much more positive, as Jonas explained that final results show the school scored in the top 20 percent in the state.
“I find it kind of ironic that our elementary didn’t meet AYP, yet we scored in the top 20 percent,” Jonas noted.
Jonas also warned about putting too much importance on these scores, something the state Department of Education also warned about.
“We discourage using any one ranking to make a judgment about any district just as we discourage using one test score to make a judgment about any one student,” says Roger Breed, Commissioner of Education.
Action items on the agenda included approval of second reading of four revised policies and two new policies. These policies include release of employee information, school ceremonies and observances, compulsory attendance, excessive absenteeism, negotiations and e-mail retention.
Another action item centered around the position of Operations Supervisor, and whether the position should remain a salaried position as it currently is, or move to hourly. Superintendent Sievering said the position has rotated a few times between salary and hourly.
The Ad Hoc committee met to discuss the merits of the position, at which time a job description was presented as well as financial information. That information shows that the district saves approximately $2,500 per year by having the position salaried as opposed to hourly. That savings figure was based on the amount of overtime being worked by the employee at the time the position was moved to salaried.
The motion to move the position from salaried to hourly, passed by a 3-2 vote, with Tracy Popp and Dave Glendy both voting no. Matthew Haumont, John Evans and Ken Myers voted yes, and Michelle Zlomke abstained.
The final item on the agenda involves the search for a high school principal to replace the retiring Ken Kujath. Sievering says he is beginning to receive resumes for the position, and has set aside Jan. 2 for the administrative team to meet to go over those resumes and select candidates for the first round of interviews.
Sievering recommended the board meet to conduct interviews with those candidates Saturday, Jan. 12. This will enable the board to offer a contract and have formal approval at the Jan. 21 meeting.
One of the big issues to be discussed regarding a new principal is the salary range the district is prepared to offer. Sievering researched other schools in our conference and comprised a chart of salary ranges. He presented a recommended salary range of $100,000 - $102,500, for qualified candidates who meet all the criteria set forth by the board.
The board set the next regular meeting date for Jan. 21, before adjourning into closed session to discuss the superintendent evaluation.