The local school board held their regular December meeting Monday, Dec. 20.
The meeting started at 5:30 p.m. due to the Middle School concert later that evening.
Superintendent Stan Kress informed the board that the engineer should be able to get the specifications done for the Middle School and High School heating system upgrades by mid-January. This would allow them to go to bid by March and hopefully do the work this summer. Kress said depending on the forest funds received this year they may be able to do more than just the one wing at the Middle School.
Regarding a bus stop request Dave Snodgrass said he and Dave Remacle investigated and the request would add just a minute or two to the route and would be safer for the children involved. The request was to stop behind the community hall since the moving of the original stop from the corner of Nuxoll Shell to behind the Olive’s building would necessitate the requester’s children crossing Main St.
The district’s self-insurance/buy down program has resulted in a carry-over of more than $100,000. This carry-over will allow the district to cut costs to the employees and the district for next year’s premiums by 5% despite and estimated 7% hike in rates. Since the program has been so successful, the committee also recommended running a similar program for dental insurance with a $50 deductible. This would cost a maximum of $6,200 and save over $14,000 in costs. The current dental insurance would have gone up 36% but with this change the cost will go up only 5%. An additional portion of the carry-over will fund this program so that the employees won’t see any increase in costs.
The self-insurance program was started last year when the district was facing a 45% increase in medical insurance premiums.
It was reported that due to excessive costs of the Idaho Student Information Management System (ISIMS) that the project is being scaled back. The Albertson’s Foundation had pledged $35 million to the program but estimated costs of the system envisioned were in the neighborhood of $180 million. They promised not to leave schools like Prairie, that had piloted the program, stuck out on a limb. Rene’ Forsmann reported to go with their own new system would entail a large investment in new hardware. They can’t go back to the previous software as that isn’t being supported anymore. At this point they are in a wait and see mode.
The district will be receiving $23,000 from REAP which is a federal program helping rural districts in the No Child Left Behind program. The high school and middle school will be receiving these funds and both plan to use these funds toward possible half-time aides that would work with the students needing help, particularly in the math and reading areas. Mike Bundy said they did this kind of thing with the 4 sophomores last year who didn’t score as proficient on the Idaho Standards and Achievement Test last year. Passing this test is a requirement for graduation starting with the current juniors. Using individualized help and the PLATO software, they were able to help all four students pass the ISAT on their second testing. The board passed a motion approving the schools’ plans for use of this money.
High school math teacher Rob Lawler tendered his resignation effective at the end of the current school year. It was accepted by the board.
In administrative reports Forsmann presented results of the surveys sent out by the elementary school. They received 73 responses back. Results of the surveys were mostly positive for the school with a few handwritten comments. If you wish to see the full results you can check with the Elementary School. The Chronicle also has a copy of the results.
She also reported that Kody Duclos’ artwork was a finalist for the state department of education’s greeting cards. (see a picture of Kody’s art elsewhere in this week’s paper.) She also reported that Cindy Schumacher has been awarded a Wells Fargo Bank Grant Your School a Wish scholarship of $500 with a check presentation to be made in January.
January will be a heavy testing month with the ISAT, Idaho Reading Indicator and some internal testing to be done.
Dave Snodgrass reported that the junior high boys basketball tournament was held at the Middle School this past weekend with Prairie winning the tournament.
He reported the new winches for the side baskets have arrived and he feels much safer winching those baskets out of the way now.
He reported that Fr. Temba did a program on Christmas in Africa that went very well.
The Direct Math and Direct Writing tests were held earlier in the month.
Mike Bundy reported that the basketball tournament went very well. He also said they are working with the ski hill on a day for the students to go up there sometime in January.
The board adjourned to an executive session at 6:45 p.m.
The next meeting of the board will be Wednesday, January 19 at the High School. A social hour will precede the 7 p.m. meeting. February’s meeting will be on the 23rd at the Middle School and the March 21 meeting will be at the Elementary School.