Local News

The North Platte Schools Board of Education tackled the state’s new civics requirements for the first time Monday.

Not much will change initially for the North Platte board, Superintendent Dr. Ron Hanson said, because the board already had a subcommittee that regularly worked on civics curriculum before the Unicameral’s March passage of Legislative Bill 399.

“It’s no longer the Americanism committee,” he said. “It is the American civics committee. It’s very similar.”

Board members Mark Nicholson, Jo Ann Lundgreen and Skip Altig sit on the subcommittee that had been known as personnel, Americanism, curriculum, student services and communication. That subcommittee — along with members of the administration including Hanson, Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning Vikki Carlson and Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning Trent Benjamin — met for the first time this school year on Thursday to discuss some of the changes for teachers and students.

“Both the eighth grade teachers and the (high school) government teachers decided they will be administering the naturalization (citizenship) exam to our students,” Carlson told the board. “That was one of the choices and we felt like that is something that will culminate a student’s middle school career and then again at the end of a student’s high school career.”

The school district will also observe historical holidays with curriculum during the week of the holiday. Those holidays are the birthdays of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, and Native American Heritage Day, Constitution Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day.

The district will host a May hearing where the public can comment to the board about the district’s implementation of the new law.

The school board also got its first taste of the proposed 2019-20 budget, though Executive Director of Finance Stuart Simpson noted that while the proposed budget is completed each September, it’s an ongoing process throughout the year.

There is not any expected change to the general fund levy from the 2018-19 school year, which was set at $1.02 per $100 of taxable property valuation. The North Platte High School bond will decrease this year and the district’s total levy is projected to decrease 42 cents from $1.181 per $100 to $1.139 per $100, according to Simpson.

The first draft of the 2019-20 budget presented Monday sees a decrease in expenditures from $58,022,308 in 2018-19 to $57,792,429 in 2019-20.

“We are trying to reduce our overall expenditures,” Simpson said.

Simpson compared the district’s levy to 20 schools of similar size in Nebraska, saying it has the fifth lowest levy of those districts, slightly larger than Norfolk, Waverly, Kearney and Columbus.

The school will make the second-to-last payment on the high school in December, and board member Ivan Mitchell noted that the levy will reduce even further once infrastructure payments for Lake Maloney School are completed.

“Once that happens we’ll be right there with the lowest levy” of those 20 schools, he said. “As far as value goes, this is a very efficient district.”

In other business:

» The board unanimously approved up to $200,000 to purchase a used charter bus to transport students. The district has one charter bus in operation, but needs a second, Simpson said,

The district rented a bus to transport students long distances for activities in the past year, and Simpson said he hopes that by buying a new bus expenditures can be reduced.

» The board also approved two modifications to the district’s video surveillance policy.

In the future, the district will provide surveillance video to parents if a student’s educational record is affected. The second change will authorize staff to better cooperate with the North Platte Police Department’s school resource officer.

» The October board meeting will move from the second Monday of the month to the first, Oct. 7.

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