The Converse County School District #1 school board faced some tough decisions at their regular school board meeting on Tuesday, April 11. The district anticipates over a million dollars in reduced revenue due to declining enrollment and additional cuts imposed by the state legislature. Some cuts were approved at prior meetings. On Tuesday, the board made decisions about certified staff contracts for the upcoming year. After a lengthy executive session, the board approved the personnel recommendations as presented.
A total of 15.5 positions have been reduced in the district for the upcoming school year. Fifteen certified staff members will be transferred to other positions within the district to fill open positions and reduce the overall number of staff. One position was reduced through reduction in force (RIF). All other certified positions were reduced after resignations or retirements. Additional cuts in supply budgets and activities programs have been proposed and will be considered by the board later.
One retiree, Donna McMichael, was honored by the board as the spotlight employee. She is currently the secretary at Douglas Upper Elementary School, and has been employed in the district for 27 years. According to DUES principal Brent Notman, Donna is meticulous, prompt, and organized. Notman went on to say that Donna is loyal to the district and its mission, continually working for the good of the cause. She uses good judgment on the job and has a heart for the students and staff she works with. Donna truly is the glue that holds things all together at DUES. The district thanks Donna for her service and wishes her well in her retirement.
The board approved the receiving of funds from a "Bearcat Loyalty" debit card program offered from Converse County Bank. Breck Wagstaff of the bank was on hand to explain the program and answer board member questions. The board is appreciative of this offer from the bank to make a donation to the district based on the use of the Bearcat debit cards, the design of which was done by Sonia Sieg.
The art backdrop and wall decorations in the board room were made by rural school art students. The project is meant to portray an "eery night out on the ranch somewhere" scene with a twist of Wally Kandansky's pop art circles representing leaves. The students built in a fence. This project uses newspaper as the background with a watercolor blue wash, then the black tree with the leaves to help represent the eerie night scene.
The board approved on final reading the policies about fringe benefits and rules of practice governing contests before the board of trustees. They also approved the lowest bid for the data network cable upgrade at central administration, transportation, and the Bearcat Den. A bid opening for updating the wireless at DUES was extended. Two other bids, for leveling of the DHS practice field at DHS and a paving and surfacing project at DMS were also approved. These dollars for major maintenance and technology upgrades are not coming from the general fund budget and could not be used to offset personnel reductions and other cuts in that budget.
There will be a hearing on the recreation, EWC BOCES, and NE/NW BOCES mills on May 9 at 7:15, the evening of the next regular school board meeting. Finally, the board approved a student support services contract.