School board president elected on secret ballot

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

McCook Public Schools' board of education members re-elected their president, but not without a challenge, during a regular board meeting Monday evening.

Greg Larson was nominated for the presidency by one of the newest board members, Larry Shields. Board member Tom Bredvick nominated Michael Gonzales for the position.

By secret ballot -- the only time school board members can vote secretly -- Larson was re-elected, 4-2.

Diane Lyons then nominated Gonzales for vice-president, but Gonzales declined and nominated Bredvick. Bredvick abstained from the roll call vote, so he was elected 5-0.

Gonzales said he thought the "new members" needed to get involved, and nominated Shane Messersmith for the office of secretary. Shields nominated Lyons, and by secret ballot, Lyons won, 4-2.

The board reappointed business manager Rick Haney as recording secretary and treasurer.

Outgoing secretary Gonzales administered the oath of office to new board members Shields and Messersmith, and to re-elected board member Larson.

During board comments, Messersmith said he wants to reinstate ag classes and enhance art classes. He admitted he "has a lot to learn." Messersmith stressed that "things can't get done overnight," and asked that people "be patient."

Board members accepted a $10,000 donation anonymously, with Gonzales voicing his appreciation.

Haney said the donation was earmarked by the donor, an avid golfer who was a member of an MHS golf team, for ADA sidewalks at the new tennis courts and to pay for the schools' membership at the Heritage Hills Golf Course in McCook.

Superintendent Dr. Don Marchant said school officials were pleased with the results of a speed monitor set up temporarily in each school zone late last year. "Many people were surprised that they were going as fast as they were," Dr. Marchant said.

To continue to make the schools safer, Dr. Marchant said, the school will apply for a non-matching "Safe Routes to School" grant that will fund the purchase of four speed monitors and continue the district's efforts to make the schools' sidewalks handicap accessible. The grant will include a curriculum program that encourages students, especially K-5, to walk to school.

The board approved a resolution that determines option enrollment availability in McCook's classes.

By building, those figures include:

Senior high, 9-12: Building capacity: 600 students. Current enrollment: 541. Option enrollment available: 59.

Junior high, 6-8: Building capacity: 450. Current enrollment: 319. Option enrollment available: 131.

Central Elementary, 4-5: Building capacity: 240. Current enrollment: 200. Option enrollment available: 40.

McCook Elementary, K-3: Building capacity: 480. Current enrollment: 415. Option enrollment available: 65.

Special education, all grades, including speech therapy, language and preschool, and some duplicated counts and "monitoring of progress only": Capacity: 337. Current enrollment: 472. Option enrollment available: 68.

A class labeled "full" does not mean it is closed. Enrollments fluctuate frequently, and programs designated as "full" can be reviewed at any time.

Reports detailing each grade individually are available in the superintendent's office at the high school.

In other action:

* Dr. Marchant and Gonzales thanked maintenance personnel for their efforts to move snow and make sidewalks around the schools safe for students and staff. Gonzales said he watched personnel at the senior high work, "from the first snowflake. It took lots of time, and effort. They did a good job."

* Curriculum Coordinating Counsel members Bev Klein and Marlene Meitl updated board members on CCC meetings and their value to improved coordination and communication among buildings. Klein said new membership in the CCC will allow for new ideas and more input from teachers.

* McCook Elementary PTO chairpersons Laurie Brennan and Sharlyn Coleman updated board members on the group's "family movie night" in November and its holiday shopping opportunities for students in December. Brennan said that birthday treats are prepared for staff members and meals are prepared for teachers during parent-teacher conferences.

Coleman said the group's family carnival night will be Saturday, March 3. She invited board members to help plan, volunteer to man booths and attend.

* Larson extended the board's sympathy to teacher Robin Hendricks, whose father died during the Christmas holiday.

* The board rescheduled a goal-setting session with Burma Kroger, of the Nebraska Association of School Boards, from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28. The session will be open to the public.

* The board appointed Messersmith as its representative on the McCook Economic Development Corp. board, and Larson as its government relations representative to the Nebraska Association of School Boards.

Board members were encouraged to let Larson know the board committees on which they would like to serve.

* The regular February meeting was moved from Monday, Feb. 12, to Tuesday, Feb. 13.

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