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By Sandy Schroth

Orchard advisory board adopts policy, pass prices for Summerland Bobcat activities


August 15, 2019

The Orchard advisory school board approved several policies when three members and Principal Cathy Cooper met last week at the school. Board member Nathan Schwager was absent.

The policies included several to align activity policies in the three schools forming the Summerland Bobcat cooperative, Orchard, Clearwater and Ewing, along with changes recommended by the state school board association.

Several statewide changes deal with electronic nicotine delivery systems, alternative nicotine products, tobacco products, look-alikes and products intended to replicate tobacco products

“What the policies are trying to do is be all-inclusive, so we have covered all of our bases as far as nicotine-type devices,” Cooper said.

State-mandated policies dealt with bidding requirements pertaining to purchases from state bid, wage disclosure information, age requirements for enrollment, committee structure and changing the two-member Americanism Committee to a three-member Americanism and civics Committee.

The new committee is required to meet twice a year. Schwager, Deanna Bly and Candace Hoke, board president, were appointed to the committee.

On the local front, Cooper said Ewing officials had adopted the entire grade-based activity eligibility policy used by Orchard and Clearwater.

She explained differences in existing substance-use policy. At Orchard and Clearwater a first strike for tobacco, alcohol and controlled substance violations resulted in the student being ineligible to participate for three weeks, second offense, six weeks, and third, the rest of year. The policy also included a self-report clause, which took a week off the first-offense ineligible period. The policy was not in effect during the summer break.

Ewing’s policy had just two levels, it called for three weeks ineligibility on first offense and the rest of the year on second offense, with the policy in force through summer break.

In compromise, Ewing’s two-strike policy was approved, with Orchard and Clearwater’s self-report advantage and no enforcment during summer break.

Orchard’s local fee policy for the year was also adopted after a required public hearing drew no comment. Student fees charged include a one-time $50 chrome book deposit for high school students; a driver’s education fee and an occasional fee for a musical instrument.

In related action, the board approved new Bobcat activity pass prices.

“We wanted to make sure that we are consistent, because we are going to have games at all three sites and we want to be sure that our activity passes are the same,” Cooper said.

Previously Ewing prices included: family pass, $80; adult pass, $40; student pass, $30; and senior citizens, free.

Pass prices at Orchard and Clearwater were: adults, $50 and students, $25. Neither family nor senior citizen passes were offered.

In compromise, the board approved the following Bobcat activity pass prices: adults, $45; students, $25; age 60 and older, $25; and family, $100.

No admission will be charged at junior varsity or junior high games.

“I would like to see more concessions at our junior high games, because those kids come and there’s not food for them,” said Hoke. “And do not save the popcorn from game to game, Throw it out or give it to the kids.”

Cooper reported on enrollment numbers.

“(We) had some in and out kids – some parents decided to do some home schooling,” Cooper said. “We are down three kids, which considering some of the number of families that moved and changed households they were living in and things like that.”

Enrollment at the end of the last term was 126. As of Aug. 5, it was 123. The numbers include 53 students in grades 7-12, 35 of them in grades 9-11, used for Nebraska School Activities Association class assignment.

Two foreign exchange students join the senior class for the entire year.

Twelve students are enrolled in kindergarten, 12 in junior kindergarten, 10 in first grade and 15 in second. The seventh grade, which was already the largest class, gained two students over the summer. There are also groups of seven and eight.

The smallest class is third grade, with just two students. Students will be “tiered up,” combining with fourth grade in some areas. Cooper said it is easier to tier students up than other options.

“You are still utilizing the teachers, but you have all these levels and groups, just not alone in the classroom. They (teachers) are proactive.

Cooper also reported on a Northern tier external evaluation completed recently by three area administrators as part of a state school improvement process.

“I felt like they really nailed what my faculty has been trying to do for the last two years,” Cooper said, before reading a list of positive comments in the report.

The external team offered just one recommendation.

“They were a little concerned because last year we sent so many teachers to so many trainings, which does pull them out of school, but that’s a part of getting on board with (requirements),” the principal said. “Their recommendation was that we do more of that (by distance learning) or in some way so the teachers stay in the classroom, which is not a bad recommendation. There’s just some times when you have to pull a teacher.”

Cooper and Unified District Board member Teri Hergert, reported on a tour they had taken of three Kearney area facilities as part of consolidation consideration, and recent consolidation visioning and oversight committee meetings.

“We went to Gibbon, which was best of our tours, because it was realistic to our K-12 system. They are going to be closer to what our size will be. It is a 10-year-old facility, but as far as looking at the size of classrooms and what we would all want. Because we also went to Kearney High School which is completely unrealistic to what we are looking at, and Kearney Central Community College. Both of those were also designed by Wilkens Architects. But Gibbon was not,” Cooper said.

No potential dollar figure has been computed for a potential new local facility according to Cooper and Hergert.

Hergert said scenerios will be presented to the Visionary Committee. One will be selected and a model created for the Oversight Committee to review. If approved, it will then go to the boards for approval before going to the public.

“We have to make sure we know what we are presenting to the public,” she said. "At that point we may have a dollar amount.”

The board heard that Kayla Spangler had been hired as a paraeducator, completing the staff 2019-2020, and that Daman Thelander will serve as a volunteer coach.

The next advisory board meeting is set for Wednesday Sept. 4, at 5:15 p.m.


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