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School Board discusses public input on facilities

Posted: Wednesday, Jan 16th, 2013

HURON — The Huron Board of Education discussed the outcome of the public meeting held Jan. 7 dealing with the Koch Hazard facilities report.

Tim Van Berkum, board president, said the presentation was well received and the overwhelming choice was for option D. Option D would turn Buchanan into the kindergarten/first-grade center; Madison would house second and third grades; and Washington would become the fourth and fifth-grade building. All three buildings would receive renovations, upgrades and expanded classroom space to accommodate Huron’s growing enrollment. “One thing we heard loud and clear is that doing nothing is not an option,” said Van Berkum.

John Halbkat commented that he was pleased with the number of people who attended and with the discussion held in the small groups. David Wheeler agreed that option D was the favorite, but noted that some people were still asking the board to revisit the grade-level schools and return to neighborhood schools.

“We need to respond clearly with facts and figures as to why grade-level schools are working in Huron and why that is the best fit for us,” said Wheeler. He also noted that the majority of those at the meeting favored a shorter bond measure and were willing to pay more each year to retire the bonds in 25 years.

Shelly Bennett said she agreed with all of those comments and also appreciated recent news articles about the positive impact of our growing population. “We often hear about how much money our English as a second language programs are costing us,” she said. “It is nice to see that the Karen population also has a huge positive monetary impact in our community.”

Superintendent Terry Nebelsick spoke about forming a community advisory committee to look at putting together a bond measure to finance the renovations at the elementary schools. The committee which worked on the middle school bonds had 50 to 60 members. He noted that the proposed 25-year bonds would increase a homeowner’s current tax payment by less than $20 per $100,000 valuation. Kelly Christopherson, business manager, also stated that Koch Hazard has given the district some resources including a timeline to help the committee in its work.

Dan McCarty, head wrestling coach, reported on the Minnesota Christmas Wrestling Tournament the team attended in Rochester, Minn. Although other schools may have been invited in the past, Huron High School was the first South Dakota team to ever compete. He was very proud of the team, stating that every wrestler won a match. McCarty pointed out that the competition included four teams that are ranked in the top 50 teams in the nation and one of them was ranked 14th.

“Our kids performed superbly. We came in 19th out of 37 teams,” said the coach. “We were missing two of our starters due to injuries, otherwise I am sure we would have placed in the top 10.”

Carol Tompkins and Christopherson reported on the food service operation.

Tompkins said the lunches this year are almost the same as last year, with a decrease of less than 1 percent.

Lunches have increased at the elementary schools, but decreased at the high school, due to the decrease in choices.

She said breakfasts were dramatically down at the beginning of the year, when only cold cereal was being offered.

Bur she said once hot breakfasts were again offered, the count jumped from 246 per day to 510 breakfasts within 18 days. “I believe this number will continue to increase over the winter,” she informed the board.

Christopherson pointed out that prior to the drastic changes imposed by the USDA, Tompkins had managed to get the food service budget to break even.

However, with the dietary changes food costs have gone up $20,000 and revenue has decreased $30,000.

“Labor and other costs have gone down by about $20,000, but that still leaves us $30,000 in the hole,” he said.

In his superintendent’s report, Nebelsick touched on continuing safety discussions with School Resource Officer, Officer Cory Borg. One possible change would be to require photo ID from anyone and everyone wishing to enter a school building.

He also announced that the credit-recovery program held during the break resulted in 30 semester credits being earned and 25 students improved their grades. Nebelsick presented certificates to each board member in recognition of School Board Appreciation Week.

In new business, the board adopted the proposed calendar for the 2013-14 year; passed a request to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages during the Heartland Pool and Dart Tournament in the Huron Arena; and accepted the audit report.

The board also approved 10 new hires; accepted resignations from nine employees; set July 18 as the date for the district’s surplus auction; approved two open enrollment requests; set the school board election for April 9 in a combined city/school election; and authorized a request to let bids for the prime food vendor and milk/dairy products for the 2013-14 year.

For the complete article see the 01-15-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-15-2013 paper.

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