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School Board looks at space, staffing issues

Posted: Thursday, Jan 30th, 2014

HURON — Superintendent Terry Nebelsick said after spending a couple of months looking inside the district’s administration for a special education director, he has come to the conclusion that it is time to advertise for the position.

He made the comments at Monday evening’s school board meeting held in the Instructional Planning Center in Huron Arena.

Peggy Heinz, the principal at Buchanan Elementary School, had shared that duty as well as being the director of special education when the district was forced, due to budget cuts, to get creative with its personnel and how they were used.

According to Nebelsick, with the growth of enrollment and the move to grade centers in the upcoming school year when Buchanan reopens, the number of students Heinz will be responsible for will grow from a 200 student kindergarten center to a 400-plus student K-1 center.

Since it will be adding an administrator for the district, room for an office had to be found.

An original idea of Business Manager Kelly Christopherson involves using a room just west of the arena manager’s office. It is currently being used as a mail room, where the district holds its receivables.

He said they have rough constructed a mail room in the custodial quarters behind the arena offices, thus freeing up the space to create two offices for the special education director and a secretary.

“We would really like to get that finished early enough to get the special ed offices out of there long before we close down Buchanan (for remodeling),” said Nebelsick. “I would hate to have to move those folk twice, because we are talking about 18-20 file cabinets and all of the other things.”

He also discussed a proposal that would streamline and modify the district’s recruitment and hiring practices by using the Internet.

“I have written a letter inviting someone to show us recruitment and hiring software,” said Nebelsick. “It looks like it would clean up our application process and perhaps allow us to have more people apply for jobs because they could go online, click into this software … and we would more quickly get all their information on their resumes and their application interests.”

Currently, it is a paper file system which creates the need for multiple paper copies so that everyone has them, or a system where one group of files are physically shared but not readily available to everyone.

“The software is set up so that the principal has a code to go in and see the folders of whoever has applied for the jobs in that building, and yet the superintendent also has access to those,” said Nebelsick. “Once we hire, the business office would perhaps have a code that they could go in after I have notified them and get all the data to use for human resources.”

He said it doesn’t appear to be too cost prohibitive, and while it might be a little late for hirings that might need to be made this summer, it could be useful in the near future.

He said schools similar in size to Huron like Brandon Valley, Harrisburg and Mitchell are using the software.

New business at the meeting included four grant requests concerning the middle school student garden.

The first grant would come from South Dakota State University Extension in the amount of $125, likewise a similar grant from the South Dakota Department of Health was being sought for participation in fruit and vegetable education and tasting.

A third grant also coming from the South Dakota Department of Health would award the school $1,000 for supplies including seeds and and project coaching from SDSU Extension.

The final grant would be for 20 seed packets from SDSU extension for the middle school garden project.

On hand to present for the request were Dayna Winter and Colleen Jensen from the middle school.

“There is funding out there for a school community garden project,” said Jensen. “We have some community support that would help us with that. There is no salary involved, this is a volunteer opportunity and the funds received would go directly into the program.”

The produce created will be shared by those participating in the program.

“We are striving to make it a multicultural center and trying to get some plants of the home countries of the students that attend our schools,” said Jensen, “and show the process by which we as an agricultural community plant, grow and harvest. and what kind of impact that has on our community, on their own personal lives and the world at a greater scale.”

She said as far as instruction, Winter has put together and submitted to the board a drawing of raised beds that would be used for the project.

Jensen said the grants would cover the cost and show the students how to build the bunks for planting.

None of the middle schools ground will be used, it will all be in raised beds.

“After going to the training last summer, I talked to Colleen and I talked with a couple of other people at the middle school and I was amazed by the amount of funding that is available,” said Winter. “There are other grants that will become available in the next month, beyond these.”

She also said there is a variety of curriculum that is available.

“I have met with staff people from the SDSU Extension center in Brookings, Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pierre and they are extremely enthusiastic and will not charge to help us plan, design and develop curriculum,” said Winter. “Dr. Amanda Bachman from Pierre is willing to come into the community and visit schools and share her expertise in etymology with kids. There are just so many resources out there … I don’t think we will have any issues with finding appropriate curriculum for our students.”

One local store has already donated some seeds to the school and a local farmer has offered to provide some of the soil.

“Much of what we are doing is linked to all those stem things that we have so much emphasis on now — the science, the technology, the math — there is a lot of it that goes along with gardening,” said Winter.

Reports were also given by Terri Schlader concerning a technology grant, the announcement of the Classified Employee of The Month for December and legislative update concerning school issues.

Those issues will be explored in an upcoming article.

For the complete article see the 01-29-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-29-2014 paper.

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