McCOOK, Nebraska -- McCook Public Schools' superintendent told board of education members during their monthly meeting Monday evening that he's not afraid the board will agree to state legislation allowing guns in school.
Nebraska Sen. Mark Christensen's proposed bill, LB 516, allowing teachers and administrators to carry guns in schools "is not positive," and is "not the right direction" for McCook Public Schools, according to Superintendent Grant Norgaard.
The bill allows for individual school boards to decide whether guns on campus are appropriate for their schools.
MPS Superintendent Grant Norgaard told board of education members Monday evening, "I don't fear the board would pass this."
"It's not the right direction to go," Norgaard said.
Board president Tom Bredvick said he is "adamantly opposed" to the bill, saying that guns on campus could "increase the availability of weapons" to some children and young adults.
Fellow board member Diane Lyons agreed, adding that she is concerned with liability issues to which guns on campus would expose schools.
Board member Larry Shields said he visited with Sen. Christensen during a conference call with McCook Area Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee members, and told him, "Let law enforcement be law enforcement. Let teachers be educators."
The school board meeting had to be moved from the junior high conference room to the cafeteria because of damage caused when water pipes froze near the conference room in sub-zero temperatures and wind chills last week.
While repairs are under way in the conference room, water pipes in the 55-year-old high school are also a concern. Finance director Rick Haney told board members that the original pipe infrastructure in the high school needs to be replaced.
The latest leak repair removed a length of rusty pipe in a tunnel and cost $2,000, Haney said. "We're going to make it through this winter," Haney said, but without replacement, he predicted a major leak and no heat and freezing throughout the whole building.
Haney said that infrastructure repair/replacement is being budgeted, and Norgaard said that a low-interest loan could supplement what has been budgeted if replacement becomes necessary before replacement costs fully budgeted.
The loan could be paid off in 1 to 1 1/2 years and the repairs would save dramatically on energy coats, Norgaard said.
Norgaard told board members that he's "not in a position of fret and worry," but he wants the board to be aware that proposed changes in the state aid formula could reduce McCook's state aid.
Norgaard said he is concerned that one proposal penalizes schools that are frugal and spend less than like schools. He said he doesn't think either LB 235 or LB 236 will pass, and that state aid to Nebraska schools may fall somewhere around $825 million, a compromise between Gov. Heineman's $800 million and Sen. Adams' $845 million.
In other action:
* Lyons said that she attended an ESU workshop that demonstrated virtual and interactive field trips that she would like to make available to every MPS class at least once a year. Each "field trip" costs $150-160, and includes complementary projects such as reading, science, art or math projects.
* The board accepted a donation of $700 from the McCook Optimist Club for playground equipment at McCook Elementary and Central Elementary, and an additional $500 donation from the Optimists.
* The board accepted a $1,693.71 donation from the McCook Education Foundation for classroom technology purchases.
* The board accepted, with gratitude for 22 years of service, the resignation of speech therapy teacher Judith Otto, effective Jan. 14.
* The board recognized the McCook Education Association as the exclusive and sole collective bargaining representative for certificated staff employed by MPS.
* The board made no changes in its bullying prevention policy during the required annual policy review.
* Jaci Saalfeld reported that the MHS Student Council donated $1,043 to the McCook Humane Society, the proceeds of its Color Day dance ticket sales. The group distributed Bison water bottles and lanyards to students and staff for Valentine's Day and plans its annual "Leadership Banquet" Monday, April 18.
* MHS students Alli Been and Angela Brown performed the poems they prepared for the 2011 "Poetry Out Loud" competition. Norgaard said he is impressed with the work and effort, poise and self-confidence required to participate in the poetry competition. "It's a great competition," he said.
"Positive Comments" made by board members and administrators included:
* School body representative Hailey Esch said that the MHS FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) donated $500, the proceeds from its "penny war," to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She also praised the work ethic of MHS custodian David Battreall. "He's so nice to everyone," she said, and so attentive to the needs of students.
* Lyons said she appreciated administrators and crisis team members who helped students following the death of MHS freshman Kailee Clapp on Jan. 21. She said she was also impressed that the student body has been there for each other throughout the ordeal.
* Sandy Krysl said she appreciates the staff that scoops snow and cleans the sidewalks, making school campuses safe.
* Larry Shields said he appreciates the efforts of Paul Paz and fellow maintenance staff personnel as water pipe problems are addressed at the high school.