President Sharon Kuska opened the Exeter School Board meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 12, 2018.
The board rearranged the agenda to hear first from Mike Norris who represents Southeast Nebraska Career Academy Partnership (SENCAP) which allows high school students to take dual credit college classes.
Norris presented a short video on the program which currently includes 45 high schools in the state. “This is an opportunity for students to take some dual credit courses for them to see if this is what they want to do.”
The courses are offered online to juniors and seniors and will transfer to many colleges. “The selling point,” according to Norris, “is that students can explore a career and decide they don’t want to pursue it.”
He touted the support of Exeter-Milligan counselor Denice Kovanada and superintendent Paul Sheffield as the reasons the program is working so well.
After fielding a few questions from the board Norris wrapped up his presentation by telling about the recent field trip to Huddle with the business students.
Kovanda added,”because of our relationship with the SENCAP program when we needed a college level English class, Southeast designed a college level lit class for our kids even though it wasn’t a SENCAP class.”
Exeter-Milligan teacher Matt Nicholas gave the board an update on the planned senior trip to Galveston.
For the policy review portion of the agenda Sheffield reviewed the updated safety and security plan.
The safety committee, headed by teacher Jordan Marr, has been working on this system all school year and Sheffield emphasized that this system is being standardized throughout the state.
The school presented the information to the students after Monday afternoon’s speaker. Sheffield showed the binder that is in each classroom and accessible to any substitute which includes all of the information on procedures for each emergency.
The board returned to the consensus agenda and approved both the bills and the minutes.
Moving on to old business the board approved the superintendent and principal contracts unanimously.
Under the curriculum report Sheffield noted that they are looking at adding a senior seminar course which would include financial literacy information along with encouraging students to apply for scholarships while in college.
The district is also looking at offering a calculus class as well as looking at a way to add an Agriculture class on site in the next few years.
Board member Eric Milton mentioned a need for a FFA and Sheffield explained that FFA is an extra-curricular branch of an Ag department. He mentioned that the board could direct the curriculum committee to research the possibilities for an Ag class.
Community member Kevin Songster asked to speak to the board about an Ag education and FFA program at Exeter-Milligan.
Songster noted that “This is an Ag community. We have a program eight miles from us if we can share an instructor or get something going.”
The board discussed the option of using SECAP classes for Ag. Songster has talked to Friend and they have offered to let his daughter pursue Ag and FFA there.
Board member Adam Erdkamp noted, “With a year or two of using Ag classes through SENCAP and we can look into it.”
Milton was a fan of incorporating an Ag program, “We didn’t have FFA when I was in high school. The experience they had in public speaking was a big advantage from what I saw.”
Kuska asked the curriculum committee to meet and look at it.
Under new business the board approved the Exeter Milligan Education Association as the bargaing agent for the teachers. They also held a brief discuss on the new transportation contract with A & M, Inc. before approving the changes.
A request for unpaid leave for a teacher was approved with member Tim Pribyl abstaining.
The board held a discussion on whether or not to continue paying Nebraska Association of School Board dues. Sheffield commented, “The items the NASB provides that this board does take advantage of is minimal.”
After making a motion to approve the payment, Milton asked, “It’s just an annual contract, right? I think we should keep track of what we get out of it.”
The board approved paying the dues unanimously and Kuska added – “with tracking.”
Sheffield presented the board with an option of funding an update to the infrastructure on the wireless internet through eRate funds. He explained that the eRate funds to reimburse telecommunications projects will be eliminated in the next two years.
The project would pay for new category 6 wire in the old high school, the elementary and in Milligan.
“Currently it’s kind of cobbled together. It works, but for how much longer?” explained Sheffield.
The project, which the board approved, will cost around $60,000 and the eRate funds will cover about half. Sheffield estimated that this update should last the district around 10 years.
On the summer project list the district plans to move the preschool playground south about 10 feet so that they can redo the sidewalk and fencing in the area. This will coincide with the changes on the street project the village is planning.
Also on the summer list will be new volleyball standards in Exeter along with volleyball and basketball record boards.
In Milligan, the roof above the fifth and sixth grade classrooms will be redone as well as sanding and refinishing the gym floor. The district is looking into rekeying the locks on the Milligan classroom to allow for a master key to be used in the event of an emergency. They are also planning to replace faucets in restrooms, repair the soffit and fascia on the building and add rock to the parking lot in Milligan.
The board approved a local substitute request for Ashley Looper. Sheffield explained she is currently a student teacher in the fourth grade classroom at Exeter-Milligan.
The board discussed at length the possibility of entering into a mental health services contract with Fillmore County Hospital. Sheffield explained that this would allow for the Exeter-Milligan “staff to receive training to recognize issues with students. Part would be training on suicide awareness which is required by the State. I know it’s an added cost but it would help us be proactive. We are noticing our kids need a little more help.”
Principal Laura Kroll added that it would provide some interventions and treatment and “quite a few services in the area of prevention and direct services.”
The cost, according to Sheffield would be .25 FTE which equated to $32,000. He explained that some of that cost would be reimbursable through special education funds.
The board asked the about the advantages of a contract versus what the district currently has and Sheffield explained that the new contract would include training and counseling. He emphasized the correlation between issues at home and the decrease in academic performance.
The board approved the mental health contract before Sheffield gave a legislative update of bills that related to education and noted that the state aid amount for the 2018-2019 state aid would be $33,269 down from the $37894 Exeter-Milligan received this year.
The board set the April meeting for Wednesday, April 11 at 8 p.m. in Milligan.