Illness factors in attendance rates down District wide for local schools

By Tim Huether

Bennett County High School, Bennett County Junior High and Martin Grade School all are feeling a bit ill about their attendance lately as administrators reported to the school board Monday night a drop in attendance rates.

The high school was at 86 percent, according to principal Chip Sundberg and Belinda Ready reported the Junior High at 93.71 percent. Principal Stacy Halverson said the grade school is at 93.93 percent with a lot of illness factoring in all locations.

In other school news, Halverson said they are practicing a lockdown drill, Tuesday, Jan. 15 and said the high school is also planning one for the same time. She reported that Junior High boys basketball has begun with the first game Thursday in Martin against Gordon/Rushville, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Little Warriors started Monday with Melissa Byrne running the program assisted by Scott Huber with 23 students signed up so far.

Superintendent Wayne Semmler said the state recognizes this week as State School Board Recognition Week and thanked the board for all they do.

Semmler said their legislative representatives are Liz May, Jim Bradford and Kevin Killer, stating May is on the House Education Committee and Bradford and Killer have represented the area well. May is new to the legislature.

Semmler explained to the board how the state per pupil allocation works, pointing out they will get $4,626 per student if things stay as they are. He said that if the state would have followed the law over the past several years, the actual amount per student should be $5,122.

He argued that with tough times in the past, the schools had to take a cut, but now that there is a surplus, they are not giving more to the schools to make up for the cuts. Bennett County stands to lose $225,000 for next year because they have 50 less students this year than last year.

The school can get one time money, but Semmler said that would be 1 percent at the most.

Principal Belinda Ready reported that each building will have a Schoolwide plan to review in February. She added Jason and Andrea Fanning and Dave and Danielle McDonnell will be attending the National Title I Conference with her next week in Nashville, Tenn.

Grades 7-12 staff teaching science, social studies, art and technology are attending some Common Core training.

There will be a Junior High Science Fair during conferences.

The Spelling Bee and Geography Bee were held last week with results to be put in the Booster and the school newsletter.

Principal Sundberg reported they will be having a data retreat the 28th and 29th and said they are putting together course outlines for next year. 

Co-business manager Karen Coyle stated the school board election is coming up with the position held by Tiffany Petrak up for election, a three year term. Those wishing to run may take out a petition Jan. 25 and it must be returned by Feb. 22.

The board approved setting the election for April 9, 2013, and combining with the City of Martin’s election. They also approved paying a $9 an hour wage plus mileage for election judges and clerks and $20 plus mileage for the attendance at the election school.

They approved polling places as: Combination of precincts, Martin Rural 26, Martin Rural 27 and City of Martin into one precinct to vote at the Library Community Room; Vetal Precinct and Tuthill Precinct into one precinct to vote at the Vetal Firehall (former Riverside Elementary); the American Horse Precinct to vote at the American Horse School.

The board accepted a bid of $21,045 for a new 2013 Ford Taurus SE four door car from Bair Ford.

The board accepted contracts for the following: Melissa Byrne, Little Warriors boys basketball coach, $800; Sean Beckerleg, Jr. High boys basketball coach, $1,036; Darin Indahl, Jr. High boys basketball coach, $1,036.

The board approved Superintendent Semmler to offer a contract for a shop instructor to Jay Yohner for the 2013-14 school year.

The board accepted a contract to Ed Partlow, custodian at $10 per hour.

The board reviewed the proposed school calendar for next year. Semmler pointed out they would have 149 student contact days, one less than this year, but would have 10 in-service days, one more than last year. He said he will get input from staff and will make recommendations to the board following that.

The superintendent said there were four Fridays of school this year and said some concerns were expressed over that, suggesting attendance was also down on those days and said they were fairly unproductive days.

The board declared a 1989 Chevy half ton pickup as surplus and an ice maker as surplus.

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