A 15-20 member committee will be set up to look at configuring Madison Middle School for only sixth grade, Supt. Marty Bassett said Tuesday. The school board gave Bassett their blessing to creep ahead with his plan to put all North Platte sixth graders under one roof.
Bassett said the committee would have lots of people but he doesn’t foresee a busy schedule, with the aim to meet at least once a month in May, June, July and August.
He said community presentations would be held in September, October and November, with a final decision in December.
Board member Julie Nielsen said the committee should have someone from the college, “because that’s another transition that we want to consider.”
School board president Kathy Phares said a couple recently retired teachers should be on the committee, who would “have some very thoughtful feedback," with experience in upper elementary and middle schools.
Bassett said the recently upgraded city bus system might be used to transport students across town every school day, which would help pay the heaviest cost of the reconfiguration.
“I don’t know, we might be able to utilize some of that (city buses),” he said. “They just installed a bus stop at Adams.”
Board member Jack Price said the public needs to know what the program going to look like, and why sixth graders couldn’t be moved back to elementary schools to ease transition into upper grades.
“We need to be able to lay that out,” he said.
Phares said the committee should also explain why not have grades 6 and 7 in one school (Adams) and put the 8th grade at Madison.
“We can answer those questions as we decide if we want to do this, or step back and do more study,” Phares said.
Bassett said Norfolk schools have grades 5-6 in one building, and might be a source of information. Also Raymond Central has all sixth graders together, but Bassett said he hasn’t talked to them about it yet.
Other than that, North Platte would be unique in Nebraska in putting sixth grade in one building.
New Jefferson teacher
In other business, Bassett said another fifth grade teacher is needed at Jefferson Elementary, the biggest elementary school in town. The Jefferson fifth grade will have about 55 students next year, Bassett said, meaning a large number of students in each of the two existing fifth grade classrooms. Adding another teacher would make the class size around 18 students.
He said annother teacher would probabely be hired for 2014-15 when the fifth grade moves to sixth grade. Bassett said there is room in the building, because it was once a “three-track” school, with three classrooms for every grade. It will be again.
"I think we have plenty of room there,” he said. “We can massage that budget a little.”
"Stuart will fix it," Phares said, meaning business manager Stuart Simpson will make it work financially.
The board will formally vote on the measure at its next meeting. Bassett said the district needs to start looking soon for a teacher.
Simpson told the board that that property tax collections are little above expectations.
Also, he said the depreciation fund is laid out in the financial reports on the district’s “Board docs” website.
Simpson said the depreciation funds are currently being used for new language arts textbooks in the elementary schools, which are beginning to arrive, as well as for buses. He said the high school track and football turf will need repairs.
New times to meet
The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. for the rest of the summer, with just one public meeting in June and July, instead of two.
However, the board will meet all day on June 2 for its yearly retreat, to delve into deeper issues and review Bassett’s job performance, Phares noted.
The summer schedule means that school board meeting will be held June 11, July 2 (all day work session), July 9 and Aug. 13.
The board will decide in August if it will revert to two meetings a month and/or start at 5:30 or 7:30 p.m.
Also, Special Education Director Chris Vierya introduced a group of teachers who are training other teachers to properly diagnose autism and intervene. About 20 students in the schools suffer from autism, Vierya said in response to a question from Nielsen.
Students of May
Senior Jenae States and Drew Beyer were recognized as the Bulldogs of the month of May.