More resignations, purchasing iPads for High School students and teachers, changes to food guidelines and lunch prices next year, and changes to rules and punishment for riding on the school bus were all topics at the meeting.
This month's Ogallala School Board meeting started with a comment from the audience regarding an exit survey of staff and students leaving the district.
Bob Josjer addressed the board and presented a potential four-question exit survey to be filled out by students and staff that leave the district. Josjer said there seems to be a large number of resignations and students optioning out of the district, and he feels it's important for the board, not just the superintendent, to be aware of why people are leaving the district. Josjer said it would give the board an opportunity to hear from people leaving, regarding what the district's strengths and weaknesses are. Members of the board addressed the issue, saying it's a good idea, though the board is typically aware of the reasons people offer for leaving the district. The topic was part of the public comments section and no action was taken.
One of the board's first action items was to unanimously, with board member Todd Neill and Jerry Quick absent, to approve the resignations of four staff members, including long time Elementary Principal Jim Jeffres. Board members Jim Ayres and Tena Most both expressed gratitude towards Jeffres regarding what they said was excellent service to the district.
The next topic on the agenda was that of school lunches and breakfasts. The board heard from Elliot Warshaw, Regional Manager with Lunchtime Solutions Incorporated who provides the lunch and breakfast service in the OgallalaSchool District. Warshaw said the USDA is incorporating new guidelines regarding nutrition and ingredients. As part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, food served at school will require more vegetables, fruits and whole grain foods, and less sugar, meat and fat. The new standards will be implemented next school year and will see the most significant changes in way of grains, including buns, rolls and pasta. In addition, non-flavored milk will be required to be reduced to 1% from 2%.
Beyond the change in federal regulations, the board approved an increase in price for lunches in the district, with an expected increase to the breakfast costs during the 2013/2014 school year. Next year's lunch cost increases will be 10 cents for Middle School and High School student lunches, 15 cents for adult lunches, and 5 cents for elementary students. Superintendent Carl Dietz said, according to a recent survey he did of 7 area school districts, Ogallala's prices will be near the average prices revealed in the survey.
Also at this month's meeting, the board approved the more than $268,000 purchase of 2 grade levels worth of iPad's for students and teachers. The new iPads will go to the senior and junior classes, as well as the teachers. After deliberation and a recommendation from the technology committee, comprised of various staff members in the district, the board approved the purchase of iPads rather than more laptops - with cost consideration being the primary deciding factor.
The iPads will be purchased over a two-year period at an estimated cost of $658 per iPad. It was not made clear at the meeting whether or not that cost included accident protection that would replace each iPad twice if the unit was broken accidentally.
Lastly, the board approved a change to the elementary handbook for next year that will implement stiffer penalties for students that misbehave on the school buses. The elementary administrators said there currently are loose guidelines in place, however they felt they needed "hard and fast" rules to help stem some of the misbehaving that goes unpunished. The new rules will include a verbal initial warning. The second warning would result in a paper warning and a five-day suspension from the school bus. The third warning would result in another paper warning and a thirty-day suspension from the school bus.
The next Ogallala School Board Meeting will be held at on Monday, June 19th at the Middle School.
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