Sidney school board discusses upcoming year at work session


The Sidney Public School District Board met on Tuesday night for a work session. Unlike a regular board meeting, no action was taken during the gathering.

Instead, board members and district superintendent Jay Ehler discussed the upcoming school year and district policies.

Progress on goals identified last year by the school board was also evaluated.

“I think the administration has done very well,” board member Randy Miller said.

Last year’s goals included expanding the district’s integration of technology into classrooms and necessary infrastructure enhancement, keeping up with leading trends in education and implementing a training and mentoring program for teachers.

“I do emphasize to principals this is where we start, with school board goals, and branch off from there,” Ehler said.

Board member Doug Means asked if the training and mentoring program had been helpful.

“I feel it’s definitely beneficial,” the superintendent responded. “It’s something we want to continue.”

Ehler also discussed a cost estimate for replacing key locks on the district’s buildings with card access.

It would cost $31,000 to install the card access locks – similar to what many hotels use – on exterior doors at all district schools, he said.

Teachers are currently given keys, but they can be misplaced; if a key card were lost, it could be immediately canceled and a new one issued, the superintendent explained. Additionally, the locks record when, and who, uses them.

“That way we can always know whose card was used,” Ehler said.

Board chairman Tom von Seggern said he liked the idea.

“I think it’s worth pursuing,” he said.

The board agreed to consider the idea as it puts next year’s budget together, but said since school begins in a month, it might be best to wait until next summer to install the devices.

Also at the meeting:

• A district program that reimburses college tuition for teachers working toward a graduate degree was discussed. This year, the district budgeted $20,000 for the program. However, state funds that helped support the initiative are no longer available.

“We no longer get money through state aid for teachers that have master’s,” Ehler said. “That number ranged between $35,000-50,000 for Sidney schools before.”

Board members said the cost of the program should be weighed against the value of having teachers with advanced degrees.

“How do you ensure you get something for this investment?” Means asked. “We need a way for us to determine its value for Sidney schools.”

Ehler said the discussion would likely be continued to an upcoming regular board meeting.

• In a school board report, Miller asked Ehler to draft a policy for the recently purchased activity bus. The policy should define how use of the bus is determined when events occur at the same time in different places, he said.

• Means asked if the district could honor teachers in a way similar to students at the annual night of excellence.

“We do a wonderful job of recognizing students, but it’d be nice to do something for the teachers, too,” he said. “Something to publically recognize their work.”

Ehler said that’d be kept in mind for next year.

• The Sidney Public School District Board is next scheduled to meet for its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, July 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the administration building.


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