Discussion of creating an elementary art program at McCook Public Schools started Monday evening when the president of the McCook Art Guild worried about moving the April school board meeting from the 13th to the 20th.
Ray Walter, representing the art guild, told board members that he was afraid McCook would miss opportunities to sign a contract(s) with an art teacher(s) if the board met after April 15, a date by which teachers' contracts are generally signed and/or renewed.
Superintendent Dave Schley told Walter and other art guild members that meeting after April 15 would be no problem even if the board were to decide to hire an art teacher. April 15 is not a drop-dead contract deadline, he said. "We hire into August," he said.
After several art guild members spoke in favor of adding art to the schools' K-8 curriculum, board president Tom Bredvick said that no action has been nor can be taken unless the board receives a recommendation from its programs/curriculum committee. "Until we have a plan from the administration and a recommendation to the board from the committee, there can't be a vote by the board," Bredvick said.
Board member Diane Lyons said she was disappointed that there was no action item on an art curriculum at Monday's meeting, but explained that an earlier programs/curriculum meeting had been postponed because an administrator was called away to a funeral.
Bredvick invited art guild members to attend the committee's meeting scheduled tentatively Monday, March 16, at 4:30 p.m., in the superintendent's conference room in the senior high, to discuss time and scheduling challenges presented by adding art to daily teaching schedules.
Schley said he has heard no resistance to adding an art curriculum. "The only barriers seem to be time and space," he said.
School board members changed their April meeting from Monday the 13th, when school is not in session, to Tuesday the 14th. They nixed meeting on April 20 because of a conflict with the Student Council's annual leadership banquet scheduled that evening. Board members are invited to attend the banquet.
At their April meeting, board members will discuss moving summer board meetings from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., to accommodate summer farm work for board members Larry Shields and Shane Messersmith.
In other action:
* FFA president Clay Jordan invited board members to attend the second annual "Bison Ag Day" farm and ranch expo and ag safety seminar, Wednesday, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., in the Kiplinger Arena on the Red Willow County fairgrounds in McCook.
Jordan said its' been fun and a lot of work, and is developing the organizational skills of FFA members.
* Doug Joyce of McCook Community College explained the "Smart Money" conference that Central Elementary and McCook and area junior and/or senior high students will participate in Tuesday, Nov. 3. Activities will include bank visits and presentations, vendor displays and programs on smart credit and financial literacy. Students will play the "Game of Life," an interactive simulation game that walks students through college, jobs and banking habits.
* The board accepted the resignation of second grade teacher Cecilia Brown, thanking her for 31 years in the McCook and Red Willow County rural school systems. Board members approved her request for consideration of retirement incentives included in the certificated staff's negotiated agreement. Shields recognized Brown -- his and his daughters' teacher -- for her dedication, heart and passion for kids.
* Bredvick developed a schedule for board members to take tickets at the McCook Elementary "family fun night" Friday, March 20, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m., at the elementary school. "This is the PTO's big annual fund-raiser," Bredvick said.
* Board members Diane Lyons and Scott Johnson reported on a "staff-board" liaison meeting with senior high staff members Jon Graff, Shelly Sehnert and Steve Clapp.
* The board approved the recognition of the McCook Education Association as the sole collective bargaining agent for the school district's certificated staff for 2009-2010. MEA member Sharon Bohling told board members that approval of the MEA as bargaining agent actually saves them lots of time -- otherwise, "everyone would negotiate individually with the board," she said.
Board members and administrative members made these "Positive Comments":
* Student representative Austin Larson: Said, "It was cool," to see so many people dressed in pink during a "Pink Out" (at a Feb. 21 basketball game) for Linda Grabowski, who is fighting cancer and whose son, Michael, is an MHS senior. "We wish the best for her and her family," Larson said.
* Board member Maury Green: Said he is impressed with the tenacity of arts supporters in their support of an art curriculum for K-8 students. "Whether it's a yes or a no," he said, he is impressed with their support for a program.
* Board member Shane Messersmith: Said that Austin Larson represents the school well on the high school basketball team, which will compete in the Class B state basketball tournament in Lincoln starting Thursday. Messersmith also complimented Charles Coleman on a recent McCook Elementary music program, calling it, "fun and exciting."
* Board members Diane Lyons: Said her husband, Phil, read to elementary students during "read-ins" at McCook Elementary and Central Elementary. "It went very well," Lyons said, explaining that the students "are so receptive" to members of the public who come in to read to them.
* Superintendent Dave Schley: Said he has heard positive comments about the behavior of McCook Junior High students who attended a performance of the Kearney Symphony. "I am impressed with the students," he said. "They represented their town well."
He also recognized the MHS Bison basketball team, district champs who will compete in state tournament games in Lincoln starting Thursday.
Schley also said he really enjoyed two days last week chauffeuring Grant Norgaard, who will become the district's superintendent July 1, between meetings to meet staff and members of the public. "The staff was incredible," Schley said. "It was a neat experience. It's fun to sit back and watch what's happening."
* Board member Scott Johnson: Said that Nick Curl "job-shadowed" him recently. "He learned some stuff, and taught me some things as well," Johnson said.
* Board member Larry Shields: Said that MHS FFA students had fun with "National FFA Week" activities -- bale-throwing, tractor driving and a kiss-a-pig contest -- and was impressed with the support of the whole school for FFA. Shields said it is a positive that curriculum director Gayle Sharkey will remain in McCook, despite interviewing at another school district. "We're very fortunate to have her," he said.
* Finance director Rick Haney: Complimented Schley, explaining that Schley is always eager to listen and serve. He said that the McCook school system has benefitted greatly from Schley's concepts and energy.
* Board president Tom Bredvick: Said he has enjoyed hearing from patrons about their support for an arts program. He appreciates, he said, that they understand budgeting constraints, while still encouraging the board to adopt an arts curriculum. He also said he appreciates the Student Council recognizing the leadership skills of students in academic areas and clubs and organizations at its annual spring leadership banquet.
Bredvick also wished the Bison boys basketball team the best of luck at the state tournament starting Thursday.
The board went into closed session at 7:30 p.m., to discuss personnel. No action was taken after coming back into regular session.