Lusk Herald | Administration contracts offered and HVAC system updated

LUSK – An eclectic agenda which included student visitors, the hiring of a new elementary principal and updates on the various maintenance projects was tackled by the Niobrara County School Board. 

The meeting started off with a report from business teacher Jim Lyons. In December he facilitated a visit from NCHS alumni that graduated between 2017 and 2021. These past students visited with a freshman class and a senior class in an informal question and answer session. Both the alumni and the students seemed to benefit from the process with students seeing all the options from vocational track to traditional University to the military and the alumni reflecting on their time at NCHS and what they liked and disliked. Lyons plans to facilitate the experience again next year.

Next, junior Jazmine Ladwig presented the board with a start-up business plan and product that she will be using as part of a pilot entrepreneur course that Lyons and Ladwig are working on. Ladwig is Quickbooks certified and wanted to take that next step in becoming business-world prepared upon graduation. Ladwig plans to make and sell bath bombs based on market research that was conducted regarding pricing, product and availability.

Katharine Kruse’s FCCLA students provided an update to the board on the activities they have been involved in for the year including chapter fundraisers. They made Valentine’s cars for the senior center and sold tiger butter. They are planning another fundraiser in March and will also be competing at the state competition this spring.

Several guests had requested to speak to the board in an executive session regarding personnel. The board moved into executive session. Upon resuming regular session board chair Lexie Ashurst state that the board would not take action based on the executive session at this time and pending investigation of the issues raised.

During administrative reports elementary principal Lu Kasper, WYVA elementary principal Lisa Williams and middle school/high school principals Robyn Heth reported receiving the data from mid-year testing. Fastbridge and WYTOPPs for bricks and Star360 for WYVA. All reported that data indicates improvements in all grades and areas. Kasper also reviewed the “brag tag” program in the lower grade building that highlights areas like reading, attendance, citizenship, leadership and kindness. Students receive a key chain tag from her with the core values on them. Curriculum work is almost completed for the lower grades. They are also working on applying for another grant that would expand the work done on some literacy interventions.

All administrators, Kasper, Williams and Heth as well as Special Education Director Hunter Kunerth are finishing up the observation and evaluation process.

Business Manager Stuart Larson reviewed where there were anomalies in the financial reports. The daycare is still set to show a loss for the year and food service is not quite on track either. Other than those two items all other budget line items are on track for the fiscal year.

The school started sending school lunch account balance reminder text messages again. All parents who have provided a number and opted for this should be receiving those notifications. If a parent stops receiving them they should call the elementary school and let Kasper know.

Under board updates Sheila Boldon gave a shout out to the agriculture program. She said she had talked with a radio dj who was in town to interview students for National FFA week and when he walked into the shop our program was the only one where students were actually working on projects. He felt that of the half a dozen programs he had interviewed ours was the strongest and most active.

Candy Dooper applauded the sense of camaraderie and display of talent both musical and athletic that she has witnessed with recent basketball and wrestling events.

Chair Ashurst reminded those present that the culture surveys now live for parents to participate in. The link can be found both on facebook and on the website. Parents are strongly encouraged to participate.

Under action items the board approved Ron Nelson as an assistant high school boys track coach. They also approved administration’s recommendations on building administrators with Robyn Heth as HS/MS and Hunter Kunerth SpED Director, Kelly Bilbrey Assistant SpED/WYVA.

The board accepted the retirement of Mark Miller a virtual educator and also approved the isolation petition for reimbursement from Rachel Manning. 

Tiffany Assman was approved for hiring as the elementary principal for the 2022-2023 school year.

The final item that Superintendent George Mirich presented was an update on maintenance projects. The new door management system is finally up and running and staff are to the point where they can program the fobs themselves. They will also be receiving more training on this process. The new controllers and software for the HVAC systems in both buildings are installed and maintenance has been trained on the software. The HVAC systems for the East wing will be upgraded this year as well. This system allows for a complete air purge twice a day as part of a COVID-compliance feature.The system will be purged two times a day at 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. 

The board held a brief executive session and then adjourned.