HURON — At the State of the Schools lunch-eon held Thursday at the Crossroads, the public heard from representatives from the four main school systems in Huron. Held in conjunction with the weekly Kiwanis Club meeting, club president Scott McCaskell introduced the speakers who were each given seven minutes to give an update on the challenges and opportunities facing their organization.
The Rev. Terry Anderson spoke for Holy Trinity Catholic School by first reading the school’s vision statement: “In partnership with families, we strive to prepare our students to be faith-filled leaders and life-long learners dedicated to serving the church and community.”
“The first part of that statement talks about the families,” Anderson said. “In partnership with families. Our families pay tuition and are involved in the school. But the statement goes beyond the families of the students and includes the parish family, which supports the school financially, and the community family, which supports the school as well.”
Anderson spoke about the program development committee headed by Rose Kluth. That committee plans the fundraising programs for the school and provides 15 percent of the school’s budget. That is only possible with the assistance and support of the Huron community.
“Our biggest challenge is financial,” Anderson said. “We are not just a school for our church families. We belong to the parish and the community and are thankful for all the support we get from them.”
Anderson said one of the greatest opportunities for Holy Trinity School is to provide leaders for the church and community through the education the students receive.
Lud Hohm represented James Valley Christian School at the luncheon. He is the chairman of the JVCS executive board. He said that as a board member, he worries that he is making the right decisions and not missing something. He said serving on a school board is a humbling responsibility.
“But then I realize how fortunate I am to have Superintendent Jim Friesen to guide and help our board,” Hohm said. James Valley is located in north Huron and is more than 50 years old. The students come from 19 different churches.
The challenges he sees confronting James Valley include continuing to provide a quality education, maintaining a Biblically-based curriculum, financial stewardship and staffing. The superintendent is retiring after this year. “Jim has been leading our school for many years and it will be very hard to replace him,” said Hohm. “The board is working hard to make sure his successor will be successful.”
He also mentioned that the Bible teacher, Coalt Robinson, will be leaving at the end of the year. “The Bible teacher at JVCS has a huge responsibility to make sure that the word of God is taught in such a way that our students will have transformed hearts and minds to impact the world for Christ.”
Hohm said smart boards were purchased for each classroom this year. The financial giving this past year has been one of the best years and he said it is a concern to be sure those funds are used wisely.
Hohm said the school has grown by 11 percent in the past two years and now houses more than 230 students.
“We want to continue to be the place where parents can send their children if they desire to have a Christ-centered education,” he said. He also thanked the Huron community for its support, stating that last years’ auction raised $127,700. “It just continues to amaze me how the Huron and surrounding communities give and keep giving.”
Terry Nebelsick, superintendent of the Huron School District, spoke about the challenges and opportunities he sees in Huron. To begin, he focused on the district’s curriculum.
“We have continued to maintain the excellent curriculum we have, including two four-year foreign language courses, four advance placement classes and a full technical and career course,” Nebelsick reported. He went on to praise the excellent and hard work of the teachers to develop their instructional material and work on the common core curriculum. He also explained the safe-school initiative and thanked the staff and community for their commitment to a safe environment for all children, including the large attendance at the movie “Bully” shown recently.
Nebelsick outlined the changing demographics the Huron area is seeing and the growth in the district. In the next couple weeks, enrollment will top 2,340 students with an English as a second language population of 658. He urged people to go online and watch the Facilities Study prepared by Koch Hazard Architects. “The board is working very hard to bring information to the stakeholders so they can be informed,” said Nebelsick. “We will make our final payment on the middle school bonds in 2013. That $890,000-per-year commitment was made in the late 1990s to build the new middle school. The board is trying to use that figure as a budget guideline for future building projects.”
He said the largest challenge the district faces is funding and he hopes the Legislature and the community can find solutions to the general fund problems.
“I believe if we keep the stakeholders well informed and continue to listen well, we will move forward as a community,” he finished.
Steve Ochsner gave his third-annual report on the state of the Huron Community Campus.
“We are still here,” he exclaimed. “Thanks to the city of Huron, Greater Huron Development Corporation, the Huron University Foundation and the Heartland Region United Way, some very dedicated staff and faculty, and some students who are a lot of fun to work with, we are still here.”
As always, he said he has one main goal: to grow. To grow in students and to grow in programs. The Huron Community Campus partners with other colleges to offer higher education opportunities in Huron.
“That is a grand thing,” Ochsner said. “But there is more to it. We do something that no other college or university is doing in South Dakota. The majority of our classes cost $40 per credit hour.”
He gave a quick review of the last year. The nursing program enrolled its largest class ever this fall, being one short of the maximum capacity of 24 students. All nursing students receive scholarships from HUF. The campus graduated 30 students with a master’s degree in education. Ochsner said two Intensive English Program classes were offered for students whose primary language is not English who wish to attend college and earn a degree. He said an 18-credit endorsement was added last spring for those who wish to teach English as a second language. And lastly, this fall a two-year general studies program was begun where students can earn an associate degree and take up to two years of general education classes at $40 per credit hour.
Ochsner said the future holds a lot of promise for the Huron Community Campus.
“We are looking to add more combination or hybrid programs with HCC classes combined with online classes,” he said. “We are working on adding more traditional or near traditional students, ages 18-25, and adding more classes and more choices.”
For the complete article see the 11-16-2012 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-16-2012 paper.
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