Superintendent concerned about state support

Superintendent concerned about state support

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During a rare Friday evening meeting of the Chadron Public Schools Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Caroline Winchester noted data from a Rural Matters report shows Nebraska is one of the lower states as far as getting any state support, but our students do well on scores. The point, she said, is rural schools have fewer resources than urban school and it’s important to get some financing in the rural areas.

Board member Boone Huffman noted state aid is dropping about $270,000, and Winchester added she contacted the State and was told the adjusted valuation went up by $220,000 and other receipts increased by over $150,000.

Hoff pointed out the district is $100,000 higher, as there is a $270,000 loss in state aid but $370,000 in receipts. Winchester said the premise is we have more resources, but numbers are vague and valuation could go up or down. She further explained the district needs increased by $100,000 so we should break even. According to the formula, she said, if resources go up state aid decreases but it should balance.

She’s concerned about LB974, which is being pushed for property tax relief, as it would hurt the district. “If you’re a non-equalized district,” she said, “it switches out one-to-one. But for us, the print out I saw is what the state will give us will not make up what we’re going to lose.” The other problem, she said, is the levy is not set at $1.05 but is re-calculated for each district every year so it will be unknown year to year what the maximum levy will be.

Also during the meeting, the board took action on various policies, the first of which was Policy 3451.

Board member Garry Hoffman said the policy, which addresses handling of money for school sponsored activities, has been hanging around for several months and there have been few changes. In particular, there is a requirement that a receipt be given for any cash received over $50. The continuing concern is getting the money deposited the same night as an event.

Hoffman said there is concern about not keeping money at the school(s), as well as there being only two keys to check out in order to deposit money. This seriously limits the number of fundraisers that can happen at a given time, and though the policy was approved it was also agreed that a third key should be requested.

The second policy discussed is Policy 3515, District Safety Policy and Plan. Jerry Mack, who was present at the last Policy Committee meeting, said there weren’t any significant changes. Hoffman said most administrators serve more than two years and the policy was modified to reflect that. Though this was only the first reading of the policy, the board, with recommendation from the committee, waived second and third readings to give final approval.

Policy 3515.3, regarding property loss, was reviewed. Hoffman noted this is a short and basic policy that, essentially, states the district wants full recovery if there is damage or loss of property to the district.

Policy 3513.4, regarding hazardous materials, was approved with a deletion of the legal reference. Hoffman said such references are difficult to keep current. Second and third readings were waived. Similarly, Policy 3515, regarding eye protection devices, was presented with deletion of the legal reference. It was requested that language be added to the policy to clarify that maintenance crews be required to wear eye protection, though the board acknowledged maintenance staff already does.

Policy 3516, regarding building and grounds, was reviewed with no changes.

Hoffman noted Policy 3530, regarding insurance, had a lot of archaic language and the policy was from 1983. Presented to the board was a much-shortened policy with simplified language.

Board member Huffman pointed out with as many campuses as are in the district, there are a lot of areas that could mean trouble. In particular, he said, the north steps of Chadron Middle School are extremely slick. Middle school principal Nick Dressel said a person could put down ice melt all day long and the steps would be slick because there is no sun. Dressel further added the parking area on the north side has the same problem.

Huffman suggested visiting with maintenance staff to do what is necessary to make such areas safe, in an effort to avoid legal issues.

Also approved was the 2020-21 school year calendar. The year will begin Aug. 13 and end Aug. 20, with Christmas break currently set for Dec. 23-Jan. 5

The resignation of Xiyun Yager, high school math teacher, was approved. Principal Jerry Mack said she is a good teacher who is pursuing another route, but noted there is a real teacher shortage in the state and early resignation notices help Chadron Public Schools to advertise.

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