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Sunday, May 1, 2016

School board speeds policy approval

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

McCOOK, Nebraska -- The Board of Education approved a policy Monday evening at its regular meeting which rescinds the current second reading requirement needed to adopt new policies.

Board members were split 4-2 on the measure with dissenting votes coming from board members Diane Lyons and Shane Messersmith.

"We need to allow the public time to hear new policies and if they feel strongly come to the next meeting. This policy will circumvent the public," said Lyons prior to the vote. Lyons added that there already was an emergency policy in place that allowed for a one-reading approval if circumstances arose.

Messersmith said he liked the research time that the second reading offered with Lyons adding that many times board members are given information only a couple of days prior to the vote at the meeting. "Timing can be very limited between receipt of information and meeting time," said Lyons who also said daily work routines factored in.

The agenda this newspaper received announcing that this policy was being presented to the board was postmarked Oct. 8, in regard to the Oct. 11, meeting at McCook Junior High School.

Board member Scott Johnson, who voted in favor of the change, said, "Isn't that why we have a policy committee that reviews them before they come to the board. Nothing decided is set in stone, it can always be changed back later."

"We can always ask that items be tabled until the next meeting so that we can review them further," said board member Maury Green in favor of the change. Such a tabling would require majority approval of the board.

"It sounds like the real issue is feedback. I do think the feedback loop is important but feel the ability to table issues is sufficient. A second reading can be an inefficiency," said Board of Education President Tom Bredvick.

Lyons retorted by saying "The second reading takes maybe two minutes on items we are in agreement on."

Bredvick added that he believed the board could "make it work either way," just prior to voting in favor of removing the second reading requirement on a split vote.

The stimulus-funded expansion project at McCook Elementary is 99 percent complete and "Could be done by the end of this week," according to Superintendent Grant Norgaard. Brick work which had to be redone has been finished and the project is still ahead of its targeted Nov. 6, completion date. Several inspections still need to be performed before the additional classroom space can be utilized, but Norgaard was excited with the progress of the construction project and that no district funds were anticipated to be used.

The school district is also slated to replace a school bus this year and Chris Wallace reported on the status of buses in the district. The bus targeted for replacement is a 1993 model with more than 270,000 miles logged. The district has already set aside $60,000 in a depreciation fund, of the estimated $75,000-$77,000 replacement cost.

McCook High School Senior Hailey Esch was sworn in as Student Board member.

Representatives of Student Council reported that the group successfully handed out plastic bags during Heritage Days and donated $1,336 in funds raised during Homecoming to the Make-A-Wish foundation. Their future plans included acting as crossing guards along Norris Avenue, Halloween night, to assist trick-or-treaters.

Student Council members also asked the board to change the end time of the Homecoming dance back to previous years time of 1 a.m., stating that it was changed over this past summer to 12 a.m., which raised concerns that dance and interaction time was reduced to as little as 30 minutes for most football players and a maximum of 60 minutes for all others. The dance began at 11 p.m. Norgaard said he would look into timing and scheduling issues that might arise and will report to administration at a later date regarding the topic.

FFA students were approved to take a tour bus out of North Platte to attend the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, in October.

Board members unanimously approved a $1,000 donation to McCook Elementary from the McCook McDonald's. The funds were raised as part of the McTeacher's Night, Oct. 5, 2010.

"They are very supportive of our school and community and we appreciate all that McDonald's has done for our school and community," said Bredvick.

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After reading this article, I am amazed that the local school board would want to circumvent the public's input on issues that effect our school. Trying to limit the McCook citizens ability to have their voices heard on topics before they are voted on, goes against community and parent involvement in our schools.

We currently have an administration and board that would probably never take advantage of this new policy, but by putting a "loop hole" in this policy will allow future administrators and board members to change any board policy without the citizens every knowing until after the vote has already been cast and the policy is in place.

Where as previously, policy had to be read twice, so the citizens of McCook had 30 days to consider the policy change and this would also allow for the citizens to voice their concerns before it would be voted on for a final time.

One board member stated that this change to policy is to save time, if it takes too long to do this process, apparently he doesn't have enough time to serve on the board and should consider stepping down.

Hopefully, other concerned citizens understand how a policy like this could impact our school negatively and will contact the school board members and encourage them to reconsider this policy.

-- Posted by BisonFan on Tue, Oct 12, 2010, at 11:37 PM

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