Public Meeting Minutes: April 21, 2014 at 5:00 PM - Work Session and Regular Meeting of the Board of Education


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April 21, 2014 at 5:00 PM - Work Session and Regular Meeting of the Board of Education Minutes

April 21, 2014 at 5:00 PM - Work Session and Regular Meeting of the Board of Education
I. Listening Session
Discussion:  Begins at 4:30 p.m. and is intended for building staff and appointed board members.
II. Call To Order - Work Session
III. Board Work Session
III.A. Maintenance Facility Presentation
Discussion:  A PowerPoint was shared by the maintenance department of work throughout the year. Projects included: paving the maintenance parking lot; helping to build a track storage building; cleaning up the East 14 Street property; helping advantage plus students landscape the front of the high school; assisting an Eagle Scout do landscaping at the Cassette House; and landscaping the administration building. Building and Grounds Supervisor Mike Grutsch said most of the landscaping projects with the exception of the administration building were student driven. He said the maintenance crew removed the old landscape and the students replaced it with new items. Grutsch said this helped out a lot. He said the maintenance crew recently removed all of the evergreen bushes by the east entrance of the CHS. The Advantage Plus students will once again redo the landscaping in that area. Grutsch said the project will be done by graduation. All of the bushes will be removed around CHS. Grutsch said he just picked up the new pick-up truck this afternoon and invited the board to look at it when leaving. He said the maintenance department was able to do the concrete work at the maintenance building because Gehring Construction donated equipment to help with the paving. The following are some new projects for summer: pouring the concrete spill way at the CHS practice field; painting the track building, however, this might be able to be done by the paint crew; trenching in power & data from CHS to the new track building; pouring concrete for equipment to sit on at the maintenance building; possibly moving portables to West Park from Centennial; removing and redoing landscaping at CHS; removing and redoing landscaping at Lost Creek; and upgrading the HVAC controls at West Park. Grutsch said at Lost Creek, most of the bushes on the north and west side are dead and they will be replaced with something easier to maintain. Assistant Building & Grounds Supervisor Guy Loop said many of the other projects are routine maintenance. He said they purchased an instrument to check the airflow in the filters before replacing them. He said it does not make sense to change a filter if it is still functioning well. Loop also said he is only filling one cooling tower at CHS and is holding off to fill the second one until the weather gets warmer. He said this will help reduce costs. The cooling pumps at Emerson have reached the end of their lifespan. He said it will reach a point that they will need to be changed, and it will not be cheap. Loop said a lot of what is being done is preventative maintenance. He said at West Park the HVAC that controls the heat pump is from around 1996. Loop said at that time, there were not any overrides in the rooms. He said as a result, the unit needs to be started early in the morning and runs later at night. By doing controls in the room, the cost will be cut because the whole facility will not need to be kept running longer. Loop said he visited Grand Island to find out what they do and what ideas could be used to help CPS. He said Grand Island gives certain rooms the ability to control the temperature within a certain parameter. Loop said CPS will try it this year and see if the costs increase. He said he wanted hard numbers before trying out the flexible control. Loop said Grand Island has not seen an increase in cost. He said he has also learned that setting rooms at 85 degrees in the summer is not only uncomfortable for those in the buildings, but the humidity causes problems. He said research shows there are a lot of advantages to dropping the buildings below 80 degrees. Loop said Grand Island doesn't adjust their temperatures at all during the summer. Grutsch said there are a few other things the board needs to be aware of. He said the floor at West Park has problems. He said people have come and tested it and said the tile is just old so it is not sticking like it should. Another thing to consider is digging a well for Lost Creek. Lost Creek is one of the few schools in the district that uses city water to water the grass. The water bill when it was the hot dry summer was over $4,000. He said the well would pay for itself in three to four years. The pine trees at Lost Creek are in the power lines so the district may want to think about removing then before Loup comes and just trims them off. Grutsch said many of the pine trees at North Park have also develop a disease. He said many of the trees on the north side will die next year. Grutsch said this year the district will be spraying their own trees because John Huele is certified in this area. Board member Ken Curry said the maintenance department is doing a great job. Grutsch said depending on what happens with the bond issue, the board will need to figure some things out at the middle school. Superintendent Dr. Troy Loeffelholz said the quality of individuals working in maintenance are amazing. He said many of them are specialists in certain areas, which allows the district to do work it used to have to contract out for. Executive Director of Operations Leonard Kwapinoski said the maintenance department does a good job of looking toward the future when doing projects. He thanked them for all the hard work they have done.
III.B. Executive Session
IV. Dinner at Administration Building - No business will be discussed.
V. Call to order - Board Meeting
VI. Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call
VII. Open Meeting Notice of Posted Law
VII.A. President insures that all can hear the proceedings
VIII. Mission Statement
Discussion:  Mike Goos read the Mission Statement.
IX. Opportunity For Public To Be Heard
Discussion:  No one spoke to the Board.
X. Recognitions
X.A. 2014 Educator of the Year Award
Discussion:  There were 40 teachers nominated for the Educators of the Year. The winner will receive $1,000 and the runner up will receive $500 both sponsored by the Columbus United Federal Credit Union. Nominations were accepted by staff, parents, students, school supporting agencies and the general public. The finalists are Kim Ek, Cheryl Ferguson, Ron Haefner, Tonya Lusche and Sherry Thompson.
X.B. 2014 Operations Employee of the Year Award
Discussion:  There were 27 nominations for the Operations Employee of the Year. The winner will receive $500, which was donated by Bob Markham Class of 1976. Nominations were accepted by staff, parents, students, school supporting agencies and the general public. The finalists are Shelly DeWispelare, Sandy Krings and Mike Olson.
X.C. CHS Winter Percussion Ensemble Recognition
Discussion:  The Winter Percussion Ensemble was recognized for earning first place at the Heartland Winter Arts Alliance Champions. There were 28 students who participated from CHS. In the competition, CHS competed in the marching category with units from Thomas Jefferson High School, Creston, Glenwood, Sioux City West, Norris, Beatrice, Omaha South and Millard North. The ensemble has been in existence for four years, and this is the second championship. The first was won in 2010. Band Director Jeff Peabody thanked Michael Klee who helps with the drum technique. He said he also appreciates the superintendent grant, which helps fund the ensemble. Peabody said CHS hosted a percussion ensemble this year and hopes to host one again next year. He said the ensemble worked hard. Peabody said to the kids the fun was working hard to achieve a goal. For those who have not seen the group perform, they will be in full custom on May 2 at the academic pep rally at CHS.
X.D. Presentation and Thank You on Close-Up Group's Tip to Washington DC
Discussion:  Students who went on the Close-Up trip to Washington DC gave a presentation to the board. Sponsor Dave Hiebner said the students are always surprised about something in DC. He said there is a lot of negative spin around government, but the students still need to understand how it works. Hiebner said Democracy is something kids need to learn about. He said it is a great program, and he and the students appreciate the board’s support. The program runs every week from January to June, and it started in 1972.
X.E. CHS Won the Wayne State Quiz Bowl.
Discussion:  CHS Principal Steve Woodside said the Quiz Bowl team is an up and coming program that is successful. The team won the Wayne State Quiz Bowl competition. This earned the team the right to go to Chicago June 7-9 to compete. Last year the team finished third, and this year they finished first. Woodside said the Quiz Bowl must work together to be successful, which is good lessons for the students to learn.
X.F. "Hammer the Grammar"
Discussion:  CHS Principal Steve Woodside said culture can take many forms. He said the school is at the end of the ACT pilot program, so they wanted to do something to mark the occasion. Students in grades 9-11 were given Hammer the Grammar shirts and asked to come for a photo before school started. Hammer the Grammar is something that ACT Prep organizer John Baylor stresses. The picture is hanging in the hall at the high school. Woodside said the momentum is building at the high school and results can be seen.
XI. Presentations
XI.A. Presentation on ELL Program Improvements
Discussion:  Program Recommendation – ELL Coordinator Melissa Jelinek said a Level I student is brand new and recently has arrived in the U.S. They are struggling with language and often sit in a classroom and don't understand. A Level 2 student understands conversation and some words but is still struggling. A Level 3 student is more conversational and has a better handle on the academic language. However, they are still early on in language development. The Level 4 student understands and speaks conversational, but they need to work on reading and writing. A Level 5 student has language skills in both academics and conversation. The district staff focuses on working with students who are a Level 1, 2 or 3. If they score as a Level 4, they are on consultation for learning the languages. The current program is based on literacy with emphasis on more reading and writing. For students who are Level 1 and 2, there needs to be more focus on the language. Jelinek said eventually the district wants to adopt an instructional model. The idea is to train teachers how to teach in the classroom. This will be accomplished through professional development where teachers will learn the what, why and how. Jelinek said the district had a program but didn't do a good job of letting people know about the program. One program goal is making sure educational approaches are clearly stated and communicated to all stakeholders. A second improvement focus is that professional development is provided to all stakeholders. The third improvement goal is a comprehensive analysis of ELDA data which is used to influence and inform all placement curriculum and instructional decisions. Jelinek said hat the staff needs to look at all sub categories and do a better job of placing students. She said staff spend some time visiting programs that are successful. They visited Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha. Jelinek said they saw a lot of great things and are trying to narrow down the items to see what would make the greatest impact on CPS. There is a checklist of skills to track growth. Goals will also be set, and there needs to be flexibility in placing students through the school year. Some things that need to happen include: purchasing an ELL program: increasing staffing; increasing services for Level 1 and 2; coaching for all teachers with emphasis on implementation of the ELL program. Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Amy Romshek said making improvements to the program is not an exact science. She said numbers will increase or decrease throughout the year. The current program at the elementary is based on minutes rather than type of instruction. At the secondary level, guidelines do not exist. The students are currently placed in a level or tracked by classes. The teaching focuses on improving literacy and increasing vocabulary. They made the following recommendations: adopt an English Development Program for a cost of $91,000; provide quality ELD instruction to all Level I and Level 2 students with trained teachers; provide a pull out program for ELD instruction for Level 1 students in grades third through fifth with ELL teachers. The pull out program will have the students immersed in English for half of day. There is a need to increase services at ELL. West Park is the only building without a full time teacher. There is also a need to develop and offer a pull out program for Level I students at CMS and CHS. They are also recommending making the ELL coordinator a full time position at a cost of $135,710. All ELL teachers will develop and provide presentations focused on Rule 15 and ELDA components to all CPS administrators and staff. They need to track ELDA results quarterly. There is also a need to offer a summer school program based on English Language development. There are currently 169 Level 1 students and 120 students the teachers would like to put into summer school. A big piece will be educating the parents on why their students needs to be in summer school and how it will help him or her improve. It is better to immerse them in English language development and then place them in Level 2 ELL classes. The ELL staff has talked about using the former pathways building for the pull out classes. The students would be transported in the morning and returned to their building in the afternoon. There has been an influx of Level I students at the high school.
XI.B. Presentation on STEM Program
Discussion:  STEM education must have a K-12 focus. The idea is to attract elementary kids to put things together and take things apart. Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are what will be focused on across all content areas. STEM provides engaging, challenging and collaborative learning activities that prepare students for success. STEM education is interdisciplinary. This is a higher order of thinking. Students must think logically, solve problems, and be innovative in both academic and real world areas. The idea is to also make the students employable, engage them in inquiry, work with their peers and problem solve and persistence. This piece will also tie into college and career readiness and prepare students for college and career choices and promote college and career readiness. These items will be addressed in all four areas of STEM and also in other disciplines. The action steps include adopting a K-12 STEM curriculum in order to integrate STEM learning experiences across disciplines and grade levels; provide well-designed training and coaching for teachers to develop STEM education pathways that interconnect academic course offerings; offer engaging STEM learning activities in summer school and after school programming and inventory existing district STEM materials/ equipment to determine future contextual needs; hire a K-12 STEM Coordinator/coach to facilitate and lead the district STEM team. The idea is to also implement a new program at CMS for students in grades sixth, seventh and eighth. This program will take the place of traditional classes in industrial technology. Another key piece is providing training for teachers in not just career and technology but science and math teachers as well.
XII. Consent Agenda
Discussion:  Superintendent Dr. Troy Loeffelholz said there have been 12 certified resignations, and there has almost been 12 hired. There also have been four classified resignation and four hires. The potential graduation list was also approved as part of the consent agenda.
XII.A. Approval of Minutes for the meeting on March 10, 2014
XII.B. Certified Personnel Action
XII.C. Classified Personnel Action
XII.D. Tentative Graduate List
XII.E. Professional Travel Report
XIII. Financial Reports 2, 3, and 4a
XIV. Financial Report 4b
XV. Special Administrative Functions
XV.A. ELL Program Improvements
Discussion:  This will include purchasing ELL curriculum and increasing ELL staffing in the district.
XV.B. Adoption of Career Technical Education Program for Middle School
Discussion:  The curriculum includes Discovering STEM for sixth graders, Designing STEM for seventh graders and Investigating STEM for eighth graders at a cost of $65,000. This will also include a three-day STEM instructor orientation with STEM teachers at a cost of $7,500 and a two-day orientation integration with science and math teachers for $5,000.
XV.C. World Language Curriculum
Discussion:  This year the World Language Curriculum was revised to include five levels of Spanish with students being able to start at eighth grade and four levels of German at the high school.
XV.D. New Text Resources for World Languages and High School Social Studies
Discussion:  New items will be bought for the following classes at the high school: US History II, Geography, World History and American Government for a cost of $28, 811. Items will also e purchased for the Spanish and German classes at a cost of $67,183. All students will not receive a book. The teachers will be using more online resources.
XV.E. New Courses: High School Marching Band, High School Art Outreach, and Middle School Pre-Spanish
Discussion:  Romshek said the Marching band revision occurred this year. In the past, students who wanted to enroll in band automatically were put in marching band. With the new course marching band is separate from symphonic and concert band. Art outreach focuses on what art means to the community and society. Those in the class will be working with elementary students, Central Community College students and the community to help expand art awareness. These students also will be doing murals in the schools and other projects and does not require additional staffing. Pre-Spanish will be a middle school course. The course is designed to help make the transition easier to Spanish I. This will replace a course currently being offered at the seventh grade.
XV.F. Columbus Middle School 2014-2015 Course Descriptions
Discussion:  CMS Principal Amy Haynes said the biggest change was in the sixth grade schedule. She said students struggle making the transition into middle school. There is often a big dip in the NeSA scores. As a result, the sixth graders will be part of four three-person teams in math, language arts and one teacher for social studies and science. The idea is to put more focus on math and language arts and move to a nine-period day. This will be a time increase from 72 minutes to 84 minutes. Students will have science and social studies every day but for only 40 minutes per day. A tier was also added for intervention time for students struggling. Haynes said there were changes made with the exploratory classes. She said they eliminated some of the options. A semester long STEM class was added for students in grades 6-8, and all students are required to take. At the sixth grade level, there will be no beginning speech and geography awareness, reading applications and math applications. At the seventh grade, career applications, German culture, hypermedia, media society, woods and world cultures will be dropped but a pre-Spanish choice will be added. Haynes said they are moving to more co-teaching classes so the resources classes are being eliminated. She said there has been a lot of success in doing this. Co-teaching is where the special education teacher and regular teacher teach together. There will be an increase in the number of co-taught classes. Haynes said they want to create smaller learning communities in sixth grade and some rearrangement of rooms will need to be done. Since there will be 17 more hours of math and language arts, health and fitness and social studies, hours will be decreased. Every quarter students will be analyzed to see if changes need to be made.
XV.G. Acceptance of Gifts/Donations
Discussion:  There were $14,875.77 of donations from the CPS Foundation, CHS Band Boosters, CMS PAC, CHS Sports Boosters, Lost Creek PTO, Centennial PAC, North Park PTO and Emerson PTO.
XV.H. New Website Design Proposal
Discussion:  The district sent out requests for proposals. Three bids were received – Nebraska Digital, Pickering and Blackboard. The bid from Blackboard did not meet the specifications and deadlines so it was not considered. Nebraska Digital’s base bid was $9,595 with $3,000 a year for maintenance and $1,500 for website hosting and backup. Michelle Cruise said she does not think all of the $3,000 will be needed for maintenance. The maintenance agree is for five hours a month and can be changed with 30 days notice. Two additional items were also considered: $1,200 for a dedicated mobile site with Andriod/Apple apps to integrate with notifications and $260 for interactions with Google Docs and Google Drive. The total bid for Nebraska Digital was $15,555. The other bid from Pickering Creative Group had a base bid of $25,400 and a maintenance agreement of $3,600 a year and $1,500 for website hosting. This company did not bid on any of the additional items. The total bid for Pickering was $30,500. Cruise said that Nebraska Digital will do the hosting the first year and the administration will evaluate after that if it should be moved in-house. She said at this time, the technology department doesn’t have time to get this in place. The district is currently using School Fusion to host the website and has been using it since 2009. In that time, School Fusion has been sold twice. As a result, the technical support has become almost nonexistence. This year there were numerous problems importing new staff and students along with launching the site for the new school year. We began this process in June, and it was not resolved until November. This meant our site was not total functional until we were already into the school year. School Fusion also informed us that they will no longer support SIF integration, which is a way we pulled information from PowerSchool into the website such as staff and students. We pay School Fusion $8,659.72 a year and receive little in return. Their inability to solve the problems has created many issues. Cruise said Jeff Uchtman and her feel Nebraska Digital is a better fit for several reasons: The pages will be created in WordPress, which now powers one of every five of the top million websites; pages can be added and change menu items by dropping and dragging; a copy of all revisions are saved so if a mistake is made the old version can be brought back; one day of onsite training and 20-day free start-up support; ability to import and export information from the site; school Calendar can be added to the IPhone, IPad, Android Phone, Google Calendar and Outlook; website will support data tables (Excel tables can be imported directly into the site) and PowerPoint (The program is not needed to view the information.); and site and Wordpress manuals will be provided at no additional cost.
XV.I. Summer Maintenance Project List
XV.J. SchoolMessenger Notification Agreement
Discussion:  Executive Director of Technology Leonard Kwapnioski said the cost for Alert Now jumped from a $1.20 a call to $1.90. Those who looked at School Messenger liked the translation part. The agreement is broken down to three one-year contracts, but the district can opt out after the first or second year. Kwapnioskis said the question became was the other program meeting the needs of the district. He said he wanted to get it started right away and get information out there. Kwapnioski said the text messaging piece will be very useful and will have all parents sign up. However, he said they have to be aware of the cost they must pay for texting and how much they can receive. Principals make the message and determine when the messages go out. Kwapnioski said the high school already uses this feature when students are absent. He said this helps straighten out attendance more quickly.
XVI. Superintendent's Report
Discussion:  Dr. Loeffelholz said there were a lot of great recognitions tonight. He said he will be giving a bond presentation on April 28 at the council chambers, and hopefully this time the cable system will work so it can be on live TV. On May 5, the community support group and Dr. Loeffelholz will be making a presentation to the City Council. He said the support from business leaders has been tremendous with many giving funding and verbal support. Dr. Loeffelholz said it has been a long two years, and we are down to two weeks before we see what will happen.
XVI.A. 2014 CPS Employee Recognition Banquet
Discussion:  May 2 is employee banquet.
XVII. Board Sharing
Discussion:  Francis Kuehler said everything was great at maintenance. Mike Goos said the recognition and maintenance presentation was good. He said he recently talked to two students who are new to the district, and they said everyone cares about you and it is just like family. Candy Becher said there is a lot of work being done in the district. She said it shows that their hands are on and their minds are on. She said everything the board has seen tonight shows that. Ken Curry said the maintenance presentation was tremendous. He said it is nice that teachers and staff are being recognized. Curry said it is sad that more citizens don’t’ get involved. He said the board wants citizens to understand the bond issue. Curry said the district has great things going, and he hopes the community supports the great things. Theresa Seipel said the bond issue is a K-12 project. She said the board tried hard to make sure all levels were getting something while keeping in mind the most important piece is the kids. Alan Dostal said he met with Behlen management on March 27, and they gave their support. Toby Goc and Dale Zarbua are leading the bond committee. Dostal said volunteers are dedicated and selfless. He said he has also met with the Chamber and received their support, the Behlen retirees, and NPPD retirees. On April 15, the bond committee did presentations at all schools.
XVIII. Executive Session
Discussion:  The Board did not go into Executive Session.
XIX. Adjourn
Discussion:  The meeting adjourned at 9:26 p.m.
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