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School board again discusses need for new building

 

The school board approved two agenda items with ease, then returned to an issue that split the local population down the middle.

Plans for a new elementary school to replace three existing structures resurfaced during Monday night's meeting. The proposal for a bond issue to construct a modern K-4 building was voted down in a special election last month.

With all of the controversy surrounding the plans, the board elected to hold additional meetings to show the public that they care and want to hear opinions about why people think that it won’t work and what other ideas people might have while the issue is fresh in the public’s minds.

They want to convey to the public that this is an issue that is not going to go away.

“I don’t think the people who voted ‘no’ understand that we want to talk to them too,” Randy Miller said. “We want to get them involved and find out why they voted ‘no,’ and what we can do to make it better so that we can eventually get their support.”

That discussion is in its early stages and may again prove contentious. The remainder of the board's agenda, however, ended with unanimous decisions.

The board examined the school district’s policy on homeless students. Generally, this policy states that the district will provide tuition free education to homeless children in the area. These children will not be stigmatized or segregated due to their homeless status and will have access to the same services offered to all other students.

“It’s a federal law requirement that basically says you cannot discriminate against a homeless child,” Superintendent Jay Ehler said.

Add-ons to the policy include a section stating that homeless children should be immediately enrolled even if they are unable to produce records such as immunization, medical, residency documents, birth certificates, school records or other necessary documentations required for enrollment.

“Go ahead and enroll them and then find out their information as soon as you can, but go ahead and enroll them,” Ehler explained while going over the policy.

The document also includes a section concerning transportation for the homeless students.

“It’s the school’s obligation to figure out if they need busing, and we would have to provide it,” Ehler said.

The other add-ons simply state that a process must be in place to enroll the homeless children properly and a process must be in place for a homeless student to appeal a decision of eligibility to attend the school.

The adoption of the policy was passed with a vote of 5-0.

A new topic brought before the assembly was the Nebraska Whole Child Project, which builds upon the idea that students perform better in the classroom when they are physically fit.

The proposal, as written, would proceed only if enough interest is generated in districts across the state. Under the existing plan, a program linking health and exercise with classroom study would go forward if 50 districts vote in approval.

Funding for the program would come from grants and private sources.

The board’s votes in favor of the program only indicated that they were interested in the matter, not necessarily that they were choosing to implement a new fitness or wellness program. The type of program is unknown at this point, but Lincoln Public Schools conducted a study which indicated that programs such as these were generally successful in improving academic performance.

“There’s no harm in approving it,” Ehler explained. “We’re not obligated to participate. They just need to know there’s interest before they go out and try to secure private money.”

The program was approved with a vote of 5-0.

 

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