McCook Public Schools may add five minutes to its schedule for the 2010-11 school year.
Superintendent Grant Norgaard told board members at their monthly meeting Monday evening that two instructional days lost in next year's calendar due to teacher training can be recaptured by adding five minutes to the daily schedule. "There is a need to lengthen classroom time on day-to-day basics to get content and curriculum covered," he said.
Norgaard said the goal of adding minutes to the day is "to improve the quality of instruction and learning environment ... to give teachers more time to teach.
McCook Elementary Principal Lynda Baumbach said that she is "adding a lot to the school day, before and after school, and still lacks time for all the needs to be done." She said at times substitute teachers are hired for classroom instruction while classroom teachers are at training sessions.
Board president Tom Bredvick said he does not want to go below state average hours, and that MPS's calendar is "right at that now." He would like a calendar that allows plenty of cushion, too, for snow days.
Norgaard said that the last day for MHS seniors has already by moved back -- to the Thursday before graduation on May 15 -- to allow for the two snow days already called. "We won't meet the hours required if we don't set the last day for seniors as the Thursday before graduation," he said.
Board secretary Diane Lyons said she is excited to see more workshop and teacher training.
Norgaard said he will discuss the lengthened school day with administrators and report to the board for action in March.
The MPS school board accepted two anonymous donations, donations that in the future may affect the amount of aid a school receives from the state.
A $15,000 donation is earmarked to improve the viewing area for handicapped spectators behind McCook Community College's student union and above the McCook school district's Weiland football field.
Superintendent Grant Norgaard said that MPS and MCC will work together on the project.
A second donation, of $7,500, will help the Weiland Field project as well as support curriculum and help the school district purchase technology carts for classrooms.
Norgaard said that Nebraska schools are watching very closely a proposed legislative bill that would require more transparency in how schools accept and handle charitable donations. That aspect doesn't bother him, Norgaard said, but added, "Our fear is that (donations) will affect our state aid formula. And we definitely don't want to see that."
Norgaard said that another legislative bill, LB 1021, that schools are watching would turn the power of the NSAA (Nebraska Schools Activities Association) over to the state Legislature. A hearing on the bill is scheduled Tuesday, Feb. 9.
Norgaard told board members that the school has offered a contract to a special educator director to be shared with ESU 15 based in Trenton.
Norgaard said that he and administrators are "very impressed" with the candidate's knowledge of special education. He is a building administrator now, he said.
The SPED director will spend three days each week in McCook and two days at the ESU.
Norgaard said he is expecting a signed contract today.