NEBRASKA CITY – Studies have shown that concussions are one of the most commonly reported injuries for student athletes. A concussion can affect how a student athlete performs on the field, court or in the classroom.
The Nebraska City Public Schools Board of Education on July 14 revised the school district's Concussion Awareness policy, 508.15.
The board approved the addition of the school's "return to learn protocol" for student athletes who've sustained a concussion and are returning to the classroom.
The protocol stems from the Nebraska Department of Education's "Bridging the Gap from Concussion to the Classroom."
The new protocol will help student athletes by providing them with more tools and assistance when needed.
"A lot of the focus in the past has been concussions and the student returning to participate in the activity," said Nebraska City Public Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Edwards. "Now we have a protocol for students to return to the sport and how to return to the classroom while they're recovering from a concussion."
Edwards said student athletes have to take an ImPACT test before participating in athletics. If an athlete happens to get a concussion, he or she must retake the ImPACT test in order to pinpoint his or her cognitive skills after the concussion.
"I think we've come a long way in the past three or four years as far as being up-to-date on what research show us on concussions," Edwards added Monday.
Edwards said the school district has Level 3 football helmets for football players. Football helmets are categorized in different levels, with Level 1 being the lowest and Level 5 being the highest.
"All the research says Level 3 or higher is considered to be the best protection for a student," Edwards said. "There isn't any research that I've seen so far that has shown me the difference between a Level 3 helmet verses a Level 5 other than money. Sometime's it's a piece of mind for a parent. They feel that they're getting a better helmet at Level 5 versus a Level 3."
The district requires all coaches and trainers to complete one of several online courses, some of which include “Heads UP Concussions in Youth Sports,” “Concussion in Sports - What You Need to Know,” and “Sports Safety International.”
Coaches and trainers must also provide information annually to student athletes and parents or guardians about concussions and brain injuries prior to practice or competition.
The school board also approved the revision of the 503.04 Excessive Absenteeism policy.
The revised version states that the superintendent doesn't have to send the Commissioner of Education a report regarding the "number of and reason for any long-term suspension, expulsion or excessive absenteeism" on a monthly basis.
According to the school district's policy, excessive absenteeism is "the failure to attend school for the minimum number of days established in the school calendar by the board, with or without a reasonable cause."
The district will notify the student's parents once the student has missed five unexcused days, and will continue to notify parents before the student has missed 20 days of school.
A meeting will take place between the district and the student's parents.
Once a student has missed 20 days of school, whether the absences were excused or unexcused, a letter is then sent to the county attorney.
Edwards added there are 180 days in a school year.
The board also discussed a new Student Discipline Procedures policy 505.02. This policy reviews short-term and long-term suspensions, expulsions and mandatory reassignments.
The school board reviewed four applicants to fill the two empty seats on the board.
Former school board members at large Tom Farrell and Bret Allgood resigned from the positions in May. Edwards said Farrell moved out of the school district and Allgood resigned.
The school board will make it's decision on who will be filling those openings at it's next meeting on Aug. 11.
"We're going through the process of appointing those other two slots," Edwards said.
The athletic budget for the 2014-2015 school year has decreased by $228 compared to last year's budget. The board approved the 2014-2015 athletic budget totaling $74,706.86.
The 2013-2014 athletic budget was $74,934.86.
Edwards said substitute teacher, bus and regular education rates remained the same as last year.
The board approved substitute teacher rates of $135 per day, tuition stayed at $7,488 per year and bus rates are $130 a student per semester.
Kindergarten through fifth-grade, sixth- through 12-grade and adult lunches all increased by 10 cents, while milk and breakfast for kindergarten through 12th-grade and adults didn't increase. The new rates are:
- Breakfast for kindergarten through 12th-grade students is $1.90,
- Breakfast for adults is $2.35,
- Lunch for kindergarten through fifth-grade students is $2.50,
- Lunch for sixth- through 12th-grade students is $2.70,
- Lunch for adults is $3.25,
- And milk is 40 cents.
The next school board meeting will be Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. at the administration building at 215 N. 12th St.