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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Special ed interim, new anti-bullying policy approved

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

McCook Public Schools' new superintendent, Grant Norgaard, oversees his first board of education meeting Monday night.
McCook Public Schools' new superintendent, Grant Norgaard, presided over his first board of education meeting Monday evening, overseeing the board as it hired an interim special education director and approved the school district's new anti-bullying policy.

Norgaard's first day on the job was July 1, the same day that McCook's two-year interim superintendent Dave Schley began another interim superintendency for Franklin Public Schools.

The board Monday evening unanimously approved the hiring of Duane Tappe of McCook to fill a one-year position as director of special education.

Board president Tom Bredvick said that the search for a special education director may have started "a little late," with the retirement of Bob Saf in April, to find a permanent replacement.

So, with that challenge, the board looked at hiring a director a one-year interim basis.

Tappe, a retired director of Educational Service Unit No. 15, based in Trenton, will be paid $50,000 for the 2009-2010 school year, working three days a week. As the ESU also needs a special education director, Tappe will work for the ESU and be paid by the ESU for two days a week.

Tappe's contract with McCook will not include insurance.

Bredvick said that hiring an interim for one year will allow MPS to start its search early next year for a special education director on a permanent, full-time basis.

The board unanimously approved on second reading its updated policy against bullying and Internet aggression ("cyberbullying"). The policy defines bullying and cyberbullying and states that neither will be tolerated.

It will be the building principal's responsibility to investigate and handle allegations and complaints of bullying, and the superintendent's responsibility to develop administrative rules regarding bullying.

Norgaard said this morning that consequences for bullying and cyberbullying will be spelled out for students and parents in both the elementary and junior-senior high student-parent handbooks.

In other action:

* McCook High School instructor Barry Schaeffer updated the board on the school district's new summer school. He said the first session ran from June 2-June 25, and they are now in the middle of the second session. A total of 43 students enrolled in the first session and 24 in the second.

Schaeffer said that teachers and para-educators are excited, "seeing more students succeed than not."

Summer school is offering many students "a chance to catch up," to dig their way "out of a deep hole. Some will have made significant progress this summer," Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer assured board members that the course work is challenging. "English ... algebra ... science -- none of them are easy," he said "The kids are working their tails off."

Norgaard said that he noticed that the students are "very focused on their task," "working hard, despite the 101-degree temperatures, with the computers running at the same time."

* Bredvick announced that MPS has been accredited by the Nebraska Department of Education for the 2009-10 school year, a designation that allows the school to continue to train students and to draw and spend tax money.

* The board accepted, with gratitude, a laser-cut bison emblem from Gerver Metals and More. The emblem has been attached to the top of the flag pole at the MHS track bowl.

* Following a public hearing and discussion, the board approved the re-adoption of the district's policy regarding student fees, what charges can be made and what can be waived.

* The board approved, with the correction of a couple typographical errors, the 2009-10 student-parent handbooks.

* In "housekeeping" action, the board approved the extension of the food service contract with Sodexo, a long-term contract with yearly extensions, and authorized Norgaard to sign for federal and state grants and funds.

During the portion of the meeting called "Positive Comments," initiated by Schley, board members and administrators said;

* Finance director Rick Haney: "Summer school has been a pleasant surprise," laying a good foundation as the district continually works to meet student needs. He also reported that the installation of air conditioning at the junior high is progressing.

* Diane Lyons said she appreciates teachers' dedication to continued learning -- their own and their students' -- during the summer.

* Scott Johnson welcomed Norgaard to the school district and to McCook. Johnson also thanked Haney for his cooperation with the board's Negotiations Committee.

* Larry Shields said he appreciates the district's efforts to create a summer school for students, and for Schaeffer's report and update to the board.

* Maury Green said that Tappe is well-qualified as a special education director, and that McCook is fortunate that he is available to fill in on an interim basis.

* Shane Messersmith said he is impressed with students' summer-time fund-raising efforts for school-related activities.

* Norgaard said that he appreciates the help of his office staff as he starts his new job. He also cited the help of Wendy Hageman as the school district looked for a special education director. Norgaard also said he is impressed with the efforts of summer school teachers and para-educators, "focusing on the kids and their success, and doing it with a smile and a gracious heart."

* Bredvick said he has noticed and appreciates the volunteerism of teachers and staff members in the community's summer-time activities.

The board went into closed session at 8:05 p.m. to discuss personnel and negotiations.

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