Speed key in NEH sharing talks

The Northeast Hamilton School Board agreed to begin talks with Webster City CSD concerning future sharing possibilities at its regular meeting last Thursday.

NEH has been losing enrollment since 2008. Two years ago, the district entered into a partial day sharing agreement for high school students with Webster City public schools. As enrollment continues to drop, the Blairsburg school faces operating in a deficit beginning in FY 2015.

“We need to have the discussion with Webster City’s board whether we renew partial day sharing,” or enter into whole grade sharing, NEH Board President Roxanne Anderson told Board members in opening the discussion.

“We need to do this ASAP because the public would want to know,” said Board member Marlin Pruismann, who said feedback from district patrons has been minimal. “The Board can’t turn the worm on its own. It is critical that the community be involved”.

Pruismann noted that several districts throughout the state are battling with the same decision.

“We need to do this as a district,” stated Pruismann, who wondered whether NEH could better promote its attributes in order to retain students who are leaving the district through open enrollment.

English and Language Arts instructor Sherry Leksell asked the Board permission to conduct technology research in her NEH classrooms. In connection with this request, she asked permission to distribute parental permission requests in order to conduct that research.

Prior to the request, Leksell gave a presentation on technology in her 7-12 grade classrooms.

“Two years ago, I was not tech saavy,” admitted Leksell. “Now that has changed and I see that technology is changing education in a really positive way”.

In addition to teaching, Leksell is pursuing an advanced degree in education technology at Iowa State University.

When iPads were rolled out one year ago for high school students, NEH became a state trailblazer in classroom technology. Leksell reported that her ISU professor has asked her to co-author research work which would involve interviewing students, filming teaching methods and sharing student produced videos, presentations and pictures.

Northeast Hamilton will be the only school in the case study, said Leksell.

The Board approved Leksell’s request.

In other business, the Board approved the low bid of $8,500 for Olson Electric for installation of a sewer line north of the district’s property located east of the school campus.

The Board also approved the purchase of a 1000 gallon propane tank which will be installed for use at the newly constructed bus barn.

The Board also approved the purchase of a $2,750 financial planning program to be used to help the district navigate through future budget decisions.

Supt. Larry Frakes asked the Board to consider approval of an SBRC application to reimburse the school district $66,011 for 11 students. The district did not receive credit for those students previously. The Board approved the application request.

The Board accepted the resignation of Karla Isaacson as individual speech coach. Isaacson asked the Board to consider her sharing the speech coach assignment with Virginia Hoelscher. Isaacson proposed that she would serve as large group speech coach with Virginia Hoelscher serving as individual speech coach. The Board approved the proposal.

The Board approved a contract for Mike Rapp to serve as junior high school basketball coach. Rapp abstained during the vote.

In other staff business, the Board approved adding another associate in the SPED program.

Supt. Frakes reported that CAL CSD had contacted NEH about entering into a possible sharing program for 8-man football. But due to limited student participation, CAL withdrew the request, said Frakes.

The first quarter elementary school Parent/Teacher conferences had 100 percent participation, reported Supt. Frakes. He reported that parent attendance for the middle and high school conferences were similar to the turnout from previous years.

Supt. Frakes announced that the school’s fall play, “Death and Taxes” will be performed on Friday, Nov. 22 and Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Blairsburg Opera House at 7 p.m. Seating is limited, so reservations are required and can be made by calling the school office. A Friday afternoon matinee will be performed for elementary school students, said Frakes.

School board members will be attending the Iowa School Board convention in Des Moines on Nov. 21 and 22 at the Iowa Event Center.

The next board meeting will be held on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.