NCPS Board hears discussion on health standards

Julie Davis
Nebraska City News-Press

The curriculum adoption process was one topic of discussion at the Nebraska City Public Schools board of education meeting on Monday, Aug. 9.

NCPS Director of Curriculum and Instruction Craig Taylor provided the board with an outline of the process, which involves two years of planning and development, four years of implementation, and a year of evaluation.

Four areas of the curriculum--math, science, social science, and English language arts--are mandated by state statute, while others, including vocational, art, music, world language, and social emotional/counseling, are recommended by the state Department of Education and subject to local board decision.

Taylor said NCPS currently has no curriculum in the planning phase. Technology, social emotional/counseling, and vocational are in development.

Seven curricula--social studies, science (year 1), world language, language arts (year 3), and health, art, and music (year 4)--are in the implementation phase, said Taylor. Math is in the evaluation phase.

Because of the recent discussion on health education standards at the state level, Taylor noted that the current curriculum, which was adopted in 2016 based on then-national standards, will be evaluated in the 2023-2024 school year, with implementation of a new curriculum in the 2025-2026 school year.

Taylor said the district did not adopt the sex education component of the curriculum in 2016.

Board members also heard citizen comments on the proposed health standards during an extended citizen comment time at the beginning of the meeting.

About 40 members of the community attended the meeting, and seven voiced their opposition to the second draft of the proposed health standards from the Nebraska Department of Education. 

Several of them asked the board to pass a resolution indicating that the board would not be adopting the final state health education standards.

The board also discussed its participation in Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education (STANCE), which supports equitable learning opportunities for all Nebraska children. 

NCPS Superintendent Mark Fritch said some of his time going forward may be spent in Lincoln supporting STANCE during Unicameral sessions.

The board also authorized the purchase of two new vehicles, a 10-passenger van to transport small groups of students and advisors to events, and a 5- to 8-passenger vehicle to transport special education students.

Funding for the 10-passenger vehicle will come from money the district will receive from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act 2021 (CRRSA). Funding for the purchase of the second vehicle was made possible because stimulus money received by the district made additional funds available in its depreciation fund.

The NCPS board of education has scheduled a budget workshop on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. and a special budget hearing at 6 p.m. Aug. 26.

The next regularly scheduled NCPS board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 13, in the board room of the central office, 1700 14th Ave.

Sidebar: NCPS principal/activities reports

Prior to the monthly Nebraska City Public Schools board of education meeting, each building principal and the middle and high school activities directors submit reports to the board. 

This year, the principals are using the following format:

Guiding Principle 1: High Quality Instruction and Learning Expectations (GP 1)

Guiding Principle 2: Culture, Connectedness, and Personnel Effectiveness; Expectations, Development, and Excellence (GP 2)

Guiding Principle 3: Whole Child Focused Learning; Curriculum, Instruction, Programs, Experience, and Approaches (GP 3)

Guiding Principle 4: Communication and Stakeholder Engagement; Communication, Engagement, and Transparency (GP 4)

Guiding Principle 5: District Resources: Budget, Facilities, and Staffing (GP 5)

Following are the August reports:

Northside Elementary, Principal Brent Gaswick

GP 1: Having kindergarten only on Thursday, Aug. 12, is an exciting opportunity to allow all staff to be available to assist the transition for the little ones. Hopefully, it is a positive experience for the students, parents and staff to help ease the transition to school.

GP 2: As we prepare to start the new school year, one area of focus for Northside will be to look at our current report cards and processes and identify ways that they can be improved and provide more meaningful information to parents.

GP 3: Nothing reported this month.

GP 4: I want to recognize Kent with our maintenance staff for the outstanding work painting the playground cement at Northside. He has give the students lots of fun bright areas for additional play options.

During the week of Aug. 2, Missoula Children’s Theatre used Northside for their production of Johnny Appleseed with the performance on Saturday afternoon.

GP 5: Nothing reported this month.

Hayward Elementary, Principal Scot Davis

GP 1:

Third grade only on the first day of school

Review engagement strategies during teacher meeting

Additional math and reading support in third and fourth grade

Small group reading interventions

GP 2:

Introducing Pioneer pillars of excellence: Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork and Support

Pioneer Family Time is back!

Weekly Welcome-music for students in the morning when they walk to class

Expectation stations for third through fifth grades

GP 3:

New outdoor fitness equipment will be utilized by Mr. Digmann

Social studies and science summer curriculum work

Third grade morning welcome

GP 4:

Custodians did an excellent job with summer cleaning

Maintenance has improved the outside landscaping around Hayward

Open House from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

GP 5:

New teacher laptops and projectors

Three new copiers in the building, removed three grade level printers

Student enrollment for the 21-22 school year: Third grade, 90; fourth grade, 93; fifth grade, 101; total: 284 (2020-2021 total: 307).

Nebraska City Middle School, Principal Ethan Pellatz

GP 1: The middle school is excited to be able to offer the most course offerings it has in many years due to the increase in shared staff with the high school.

Math: Math 6, accelerated math 6, math 7, pre-algebra 7, pre-algebra 8, algebra concepts, and algebra

ELA: ELA6, ELA7,and ELA8

Social Studies: World cultures, world history, and American history

Science: Science 6, science 7, and science 8

Band and jazz band

Exploratories: Spanish, industrial technology, art, murals, PE, choir, directions, careers, new media, agriculture, and computers.

Students will also benefit from enrichment and homeroom.

GP 2: The NCMS House system will enter its 3rd year. 6th graders will be placed into houses at the beginning of the school year. Houses compete for daily points based on academics, behavior, and citizenship. Students can also earn points throughout the school year during competitions. Last year’s winner, Hayward House, scored over 4,000 points but only won by 21 points over the next house.

NCMS will begin to incorporate the Pioneer Pillars of excellence this year. The pillars will work as reflective tools for staff and students.

GP 3: Many NCMS staff participated in professional development through the district this summer, but especially the Social Studies and Science departments. Mr. Taylor led them through changes in their curriculum and on building new plans and resources for the coming school year.

Elizabeth Dunn attended additional training on National History Day and will be a presenter at their conference in September.

We will welcome the sixth grade students to the middle school for their first day of school on Thursday, Aug. 12. They will go through their normal schedule with a twist. They will get to see the ins and outs of middle school and prepare themselves for the year. Seventh and eighth graders will be joining them the following day.

● Sixth and eighth graders will be welcomed by new chromebooks this year, as part of the new technology cycle.

GP 4: NCMS will be hosting their Open House on Aug. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. This provides an opportunity for NCMS students and their families to get their schedules, tour facilities and meet their teachers. Two informational sessions will also be held. The first two inform parents on some year to year changes, as well as help with Powerschool, new technology, and answer any questions. The second session will allow eighth grade parents to understand the new chromebook policy and change to their student’s new chromebooks.

GP 5: ATS Facility Services and the maintenance department have been working hard to prepare the Middle School for students returning for the new school year. Many areas have been improved from new paint. The commons floor was waxed to an exceptional sheen and looks really improved.

Because of changes to the schedule and staffing, many middle school teachers will be instructing from new rooms in the 2021-2022 school year. However, these moves allowed NCMS to return to a traditional team format with true sixth, seventh, and eighth grade wings.

Starting enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year: Sixth grade, 123; seventh grade, 110; eighth, 96; total: 329 (2020-2021 total: 306)

NCMS Activities, Dean of Students Kaleb Walker

GP 1: Nothing reported this month.

GP 2: Summer Athletic Opportunities

The Junior Pioneer football team was given the opportunity to participate in a middle school football team camp on Thursday July 29, through Friday, July 30, at Pioneer Field. Roughly 30 student athletes attended each day of camp and learned technique, skills, drills, by the middle school coaching staff, the high school coaching staff, and high school football players. It was a great way to kick off the beginning of the fall football season!

Incoming sixth graders have been given the opportunity to participate in a new youth football program called half rack football. This three-day camp was put on through the City Recreation Department with the help of the Pioneer football team players and coaches. It was a fantastic experience and the assistance given by the older Pioneers was amazing to witness.

GP 3: Fall Activities and Staff

Volleyball: Elizabeth Purdham (head coach), Emily Roth (assistant coach), and Jolie Thompson (assistant coach)

Football: Kyle Ferguson (head coach), Dillon Horstmann (assistant coach), and Justin Parr (assistant coach)

Cross country: Ron Schaulis (head coach) and Ben Foust (assistant coach)

All coaches have been gathered at the middle school level and have spent time planning, organizing, and reassessing last year's goals and focuses.

Player meetings are scheduled to be held during the week of Aug. 9 with football practices beginning on Aug. 16 and volleyball starting on Aug. 23. Cross country has been meeting each week to get team runs in throughout the summer. Practice will begin Aug. 9 for cross country.

GP 4: NCMS has been using Thrillshare as a way to communicate with families about summer events, camps, and opportunities to extend our programs throughout the summer. We have also been working throughout the summer to update all event calendars on our school website, rschooltoday, along with having hard copies available to families.

GP 5: Nothing reported this month. 

Nebraska City High School, Principal Brian Hoover

GP 1: Integrity and Teamwork will be the cornerstone of all activities for the 2021/2022 school year. This will be expanded to the school day through engagement activities and dedicated time set aside for staff and students. Mainly through Academic Advisory Period.

GP 2: Staff received training on developmental relationships and this will be the core of our Engagement goal.

GP 3: High School has two goals for the first quarter: Engagement and Setting Expectations for staff and students. Through Engagement, we have set a goal of 91 percent average daily attendance for

the first quarter.

GP 4: NCHS Student Council met from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 3 to: Set theme nights for fall events for all K-12 students and will share those out with the community; Thanks to the work of Stu. Co., Mr. Gaswick, and Mr. Davis, Stu. Co. representatives will be going to recess at Hayward and Northside every Friday

starting Sept. 3; Homecoming Week will be the week of Sept. 6.

GP 5: Mr. Hoover and Mr. Pellatz spent a good deal of time aligning student and staff expectations for two purposes: To create a more cohesive experience for families, and to create a better transition as we are now sharing seven staff members.

NCHS Activities, Activities Director Matt Koehler

GP 1: The high school band had band camp at the high school on July 28 and 29 and Aug. 2 through 5, with an ice cream social, parent meeting, and exhibition at the high school Aug. 5.

The high school fall sports season can start practices on Aug. 9. Here are the sports being offered. Our coaches are pushing to get as many kids as possible out for an activity in the fall.

Boys tennis, girls golf, boys and girls cross country, football, softball, volleyball, and cheer.

Summer weight room: One hundred twenty-two students started and signed up for the summer weight room. The weight room started on June 1 and went through July 29 with a few days off for recovery. Attendance was really good in June and then backed off a little in July.

I am planning to have a meeting with Mr. VonFeldt and the coaches who helped with the summer weight room to see what went well and what we can change to increase our numbers and retention in July.

Nov. 30 is the deadline for schools to submit their declaration of participation in 11-, 8-, or 6-man football. This is also the deadline for schools to submit their intent to “opt up” or “opt down” in classification.

About 40 members of the community attended the Aug. 9 meeting of the Nebraska City Public Schools board of education, and seven voiced their opposition to the second draft of the proposed health standards from the Nebraska Department of Education. Several of them asked the board to pass a resolution indicating that the board would not be adopting the final state health education standards.