USD 379 Board of Education Discuss Cell Phone Policy And Yearly Budget, Approve Leader In Me Program, In May Meeting

By Quinn O’Hara

Photo by Quinn O’Hara

The USD 379 Board of Education met for their monthly meeting on the evening of May 13.

The meeting began with public comments from Susie Swanson, Sarah Cott, and Raegann McDonald and Candace Lippe. Swanson addressed the board concerning presentations at previous board meetings and in support of students assisting with jobs around campus. She stated that the work is meaningful and teaches ‘valuable soft skills.’ Cott encouraged the Board to approve the Leader in Me program. Raegann McDonald and Candace Lippe spoke against changing the district’s cell phone policy.

Board Member Linda Sleichter expressed thanks to those who assisted with the Clay Center Community High School’s graduation walk through at Lincoln Elementary. Board Member Shanna Sterling gave compliments to the students behind the recent That’s Entertainment! Performance. Board Member David Jermark complimented the CCCHS Tennis players on making it to State and CCCHS Speech and Drama for recent ‘excellent performances.’

The Board then discussed several budget items and their capital outlay budget for 2024 through 2025.

The Board voted 5-2 to give final approval to purchase the Leader in Me program not to exceed $320,000 from ESSR III funds. Board President Tracy Claeys and Board Member Jason Bergsten voted against the measure.

The Board unanimously voted to approve the continued employment of a third district nurse and hire a behavioral support staff for Lincoln Elementary School. The Board unanimously voted to move the July board meeting to July 15. The Board unanimously voted to approve their current Capital Outlay budget. The Board unanimously voted to renew Chartwells food service management contract for the 2024-2025 school year.

The Board then discussed potential changes to cell phone policies as outlined in next year’s Student Handbooks. Over 30 CCCHS students joined the meeting in support of keeping the current cell phone policy’s language the same.

After two failed motions, the USD 379 Board voted 5-2 to direct the students of Lincoln Elementary, Garfield Elementary, Wakefield Elementary, Clay Center Community Middle School, and Wakefield Junior High, to keep phones turned off and in their backpacks or lockers during the school day. Board Members Jason Bergsten and Shanna Sterling voted against the measure. The Board then voted to table discussion of the CCCHS and Wakefield High School cell phone policy until their next meeting.

The USD 379 Board of Education then unanimously voted to give final approval to Superintendent Brett Nelson to send a letter to the Clay Center City Council requesting to change the name of Prospect Street between 9th St and 12th St to Otto Unruh Drive. Board President Claeys stated that the Board desired something within the community to be named after Otto Unruh after the recent demolition of the Otto Unruh Stadium.

USD 379 Board of Education meetings take place at the Stuart Administrative Center on the second Monday of each month at 6 pm and are open to the public. Those who cannot visit in person can watch the meetings remotely on the USD 379 Board Clerk’s YouTube Page, @boardclerk7429.

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