Teresa Thomas, who manages the University of Nebraska Extension office in Red Willow County and McCook, was elected on a 3-2 vote to fill the seat of Maury Green. Thomas' narrow victory nudged out Darin Morgan, the only other school district patron interested in completing the last 21⁄2 years of Green's four-year term.
Morgan is the director of physical resources at McCook Community College and of the Mid-Plains Community College's extended campuses in Ogallala and Imperial. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three young daughters.
On Friday, the National Guard officially moved into new offices in the McCook Armed Forces training readiness center, shared with the Army Reserve, on the east edge of McCook.
Following the board's one-hour closed session, (allowed under law to discuss the acquisition of property), members authorized Superintendent Grant Norgaard to submit a sealed bid to purchase the armory.
Earlier in the meeting, during his administrative comments, Norgaard called the armory a well-built, well-maintained building. If the school's sealed bid is successful, the building would have to be equipped with a fire detection and alarm system, estimated to cost $37,500, he said. The building would require some ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) updates to areas used by students.
Norgaard said the armory's gym would provide additional practice space, alleviating the need for late practices in existing gyms.
The building has three classes, with "lots of square footage," that could be used by the district's alternative education LIFT program located in a building on North Highway 83, Norgaard said. The TeamMates mentoring program could be moved from the junior high to existing offices at the armory.
The basement could house the district's yellow school buses, he said, but the over-the-road activity buses are just inches too tall.
The armory's off-street parking would help alleviate crowded parking and improve the safety environment around the high school.
The armory also has lots of valuable storage space, Norgaard said.
"The armory would serve our needs well," Norgaard said, consolidating scattered facilities and allowing their use for other purposes or their sale.
There was no discussion of price in open session.
The deadline to submit sealed bids is Wednesday at 4 p.m.; the results will be known after Aug. 15.
School board members unanimously approved the hiring of Matt Stebbins of McCook, the director of applied information systems of the now defunct McCook office of 21st Century Systems Inc., as the new MHS ag teacher and FFA sponsor.
Stebbins, who does not have a teaching degree, was hired for one year only (under special conditions outlined by the Nebraska Department of Education and the state FFA office for the hiring of someone in a specific course in a career education field), and with the understanding that he will work toward getting proper certification as the year goes on, Norgaard said.
Norgaard said that Stebbins has no teaching experience, but he has farm and ranch experience, and he was president and CEO of Stebbins Implement of Gothenburg from January 1974 through January 2003. His children were in FFA.
Stebbins' contract is for 195 days, for one school year only. Because of the limited one-year contract, the board also approved Stebbins' resignation, effective June 30, 2012.
The board also approved the resignation of ag teacher and FFA sponsor Josh Schieber, whose family is moving back to the Sandusky, Ohio, area, where Josh's wife, Erica, will work as a veterinarian and they will buy the family farm. Schieber has worked for the school district for three years.
In other action:
* Norgaard told board members that the McCook school district received its 2011-12 accreditation from the Nebraska Department of Education, meeting all the requirements of Rule 10, which covers items that range from the number of counselors to the number of library books.
* Board members approved the use of substitute teachers with local substitute certificates.
* No one from the public was present for the public hearing scheduled for the yearly review of the board's policy on parental involvement in the schools. Norgaard said there have been no changes in the policy, and it was reaffirmed in action during the regular meeting. The board also conducted the yearly review of its policy on bullying and Internet aggression (cyber bullying) prevention.
During "Positive Comments":
* Finance director Rick Haney said that both Thomas and Morgan were "super board candidates. We couldn't lose either way."
* Board member Diane Lyons thanked Haney for filling in for her at the July meeting, and thanked teachers preparing to return to classes for the 2011-12 school year.
* Sandy Krysl praised the two candidates interviewed by the board for the board vacancy, explaining that, having also done just that, it's harder to be questioned by the board than to put your name on the ballot.
* Larry Shields thanked Thomas and Morgan for "stepping forward" to offer their services to the school board.
* Shane Messersmith said he was "addicted" all weekend to Facebook comments about "growing up in ... " and "remembering ...," and the number of contributors who attributed their successes to their teachers. "Eighty percent of the comments are made about teachers," Messersmith said, "and their influence on kids."
* Teresa Thomas said that Darin Morgan is her daughter's coach and she called him "a great candidate." Whichever way the board would have voted, it would have been okay by her, she said.
* Norgaard thanked Matt Stebbins for stepping forward when the school needed an ag teacher and FFA sponsor. He also praised MHS principal Jerry Smith for taking time out of his off-contract summer and dedicating it to the search for an ag teacher.
He also thanked members of the community who made recommendations for the position, and he stressed, "We did follow up on every single lead."