Friday, April 25, 2014
   
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Board haggles over calendar options

Final version still undetermined

With a modified four-day school week, Brady Public School meets state requirements for instructional time at both the elementary and high school levels because of a longer-than-average school day.

But with 168 student days and 175 required teacher days, the district still lags behind others in the area when comparing overall time spent in the classroom.

Superintendent Bill Porter told school board members during their regular monthly meeting Monday night that the district isn’t in any danger of not meeting the state’s standard for instructional hours.

“But if you’re not going to school, you’re only hurting yourself,” he said.

For the second straight month, the school board had lengthy discussion about varying calendar options for the 2013-14 school year.

At issue in the latest of four proposed calendar options was the absence of time allowed for teachers to attend the two-day Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) conference next spring.

None of Porter’s proposals provided teachers with the two days necessary for professional development at the conference.

Board members felt strongly enough about NETA to eliminate the second day of both parent-teacher conferences scheduled next year to make room.

Still, board members did not approve a final version of the school calendar. It will be brought up again next month.

In another scheduling issue, Porter told the board this year’s instructional time has fallen short due to a series of funerals in the first semester and winter weather in the second.

“It’s not to a critical point right now but if we were to miss one more day due to weather or something, we’ll be in trouble,” Porter said.

Board members wrangled with the days off during the few four-day weeks left, including Good Friday and Easter Monday, but chose to add any makeup days at the end of the school year.

In other business, Porter said he has received preliminary district valuation calculations showing an increase of about $9 million.

While higher value often means a lower school levy, Porter said changes to the state aid to schools formulas will likely mean a loss for the district.

In the last two years, the Brady school board has voted to cut teaching time in particular programs to account for loss in state aid, only to find out later the reductions in force were not necessary.

Porter suggested rather than cutting back on teaching hours, the district could reduce administration costs instead by making principal Bruce Hird half time and splitting Porter’s time between elementary principal and superintendent.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens in Lincoln,” Porter said.

That decision will come during the April meeting.

In other business, the board:

received a donation on behalf of the school foundation of $1,525 and two eagle statues from Delores Gengenbach in memory of her daughter Nyla Gegenbach Fenster, a BHS graduate who died in February.

heard a presentation and received a premium quote of $35,575 from Arnold Insurance for building and liability insurance. The district currently uses ALICAP, a consortium of municipal entities, for this insurance. Rather than voting to change companies, the board asked to have a comparison presentation by ALICAP at the next meeting.

agreed to pay CG Architects $830 for services associated with window replacement.

approved a $1 per hour wage increase for two kitchen staff members who will share additional dish-washing duties rather than having the district hire another person.

adopted on first reading policies dealing with child abuse reporting practices and student memorials. The policies will be considered for final approval next month.

voted to spend Rural Education Achievement Program funds to purchase 30 iPads, 30 iPad cases, two LCD projectors, and five iPod charging cases for a total of $17,332. REAP is federal grant money awarded to rural districts each year.

accepted the resignation of English teacher Brian Fleming, effective at the end of this school year. Fleming intends to move back to California to be closer to family.

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