NCPS  board plans school funding work session

Julie Davis, CherryRoad Media

The Nebraska City Public Schools board of education will host a work session on the funding of public education in Nebraska next month.

The session, which will take place on Monday, Dec. 13, at 5 p.m., will include a presentation by Chip Kay, director of finance and human resources for Columbus Public Schools, via Zoom.

On Nov. 18, state Senator Lynne Walz, chair of the Education Committee in the state legislature, announced her plan to introduce legislation during the 2022 session to update the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA).

Walz’s office indicated in a press release that the current draft model would provide $715 million in property tax savings based on 2021-2022 data while designating a trust fund to assure sustainable education into the future. Columbus Public Schools has been working with Walz on the legislation.

The board will meet at the Central Office, 1700 14th Ave., for the work session and the regular board meeting that is scheduled to follow at 6 p.m.

During the October board meeting, board members reviewed the district’s illness protocols, which were enacted at its September meeting.

NCPS Superintendent Mark Fritch said that the district buildings have been operating at about 5 percent, with illness in one building rising to 7 percent. For comparison purposes, Fritch said the illness rate during a normal flu season is between 3 and 4 percent in district buildings.

Building staffing continues to be a challenge, said Fritch, who said that the problem is compounded by a lack of substitute teachers in the district. He said that district staff members have covered for one another as needed because “they recognize that it’s important to keep school open for the kids.”

Fritch added that students in the district’s IMPACT program had a week without classes in the past month when it was not possible to operate the program because of limited staff.

The regular November board meeting was preceded by a semi-annual work session on the district’s Education, Americanism, and Civics Committee, during which NCPS Director of Curriculum and Instruction Craig Taylor reviewed the committee’s work during the previous six months.

The recent veterans programs by the Nebraska City High School Student Council and Band, and the Nebraska City Middle School’s veterans breakfast, both of which took place Nov. 11 at the Nebraska City Veterans Memorial Building, are two components of the committee’s work.

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 November reports:

Northside Elementary, Principal Brent Gaswick

GPs 1 and 2: Nothing reported this month.

GP 3: The kindergarten team has been working to organize and try a new small group, targeted instruction process during their reading time to help differentiate learning for students and to target learning needs. During the early out on Wednesday, Nov. 10, the teachers and specialists leading groups met to check progress. So far, the reports were positive for students' growth and the effectiveness of the new process. As a team we will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the approach and try to improve as needed. We are looking forward to the December Maps fluency assessment to see if there will be noticeable growth compared to previous years.

GP 4: PTO will be hosting Turkey Bingo Night on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Northside for both Hayward and Northside families to join. It will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m., or until the turkeys are gone.

GP 5: Staffing has been a challenge at times this year with a lack of subs. All the staff have stepped up and are contributing to help meet this challenge. Staff have willingly cancelled personal leave, rescheduled appointments and covered for each other. I do want to give special recognition to Trisha Adams and Nicole Griepenstroh who have been asked many times to shift from their normal para roles to that of a local substitute. Without their flexibility and willingness to help, we would have struggled more.

Also, I want to recognize the lifeskills paras in general. They have worked many days with a missing staff member, and they have all stepped up to make the school day a success for the students in their care.

Hayward Elementary, Principal Scot Davis

GP 1: Nothing reported this month.

GP 2:  Purple Jam on 11-8-21. Hayward Heroes were Ellasyn Phillips and Parker Wenz. Col. Pride Character Focus: Respect.

GP 3: Jefferson Knapp author visit moved to Nov. 22.

GP 4: EDGE Super Citizens: Third grade canned food drive.

GP 5: Student enrollment for November: Third grade, 90; Fourth grade, 94; Fifth grade, 100; Total: 284.

Nebraska City Middle School, Principal Ethan Pellatz

GP 1: Students were awarded Honor Roll Awards for their 1st Quarter Grades. Students are awarded Gold for 4.0 GPAs, Silver for 3.5 GPAs or higher, and Bronze for 3.0 GPAs or higher.

Sixth grade: Gold: 16 students; Silver: 34 students; Bronze: 26 students

Seventh grade: Gold: 13 students; Silver: 40 students; Bronze: 21 students

Eighth grade: Gold: 10 students; Silver: 17 students;  Bronze: 16 students

GP 2: The MS PRIDE (Pioneers Reaching Into Drug Education) program hosted a Halloween Party on Friday Oct. 30. Approximately 150 students were in attendance as part of a fun, dance filled night where students dressed up and had a safe experience at school.

The MS boys’ basketball team and MS Quiz Bowl team were recognized at the Nov. 5 House Pep Rally. Students also participated in Rock, Paper, Scissors Hula Hoops for House Points.

Current House Standings: Mayhew: 874; Steinhart: 918; Morton: 930; Kimmel: 1077; Hayward: 1223; Beilman: 1395

GP 3: Members of the NCMS Student Council attended a leadership conference at ESU4 in Auburn. They met with State Senator Julie Slama and listened to a great afternoon about community service and involvement.

GP 4: On Thursday, Nov. 11, NCMS hosted a breakfast for Veterans as part of a larger Veterans Day celebration at the Memorial Building. An estimated 75 people attended and enjoyed hot casseroles, donuts, fruit, and Pioneer Joe’s coffee. We have really enjoyed building relationships with the Memorial Building and the volunteers that help run it.

GP 5: The MS hired a new Life Skills para to fill an opening left. Aimee Harker has taken the position and we are excited about her addition to our staff.

Current Enrollment: Sixth grade: 119 students; Seventh grade: 112 students; Eighth grade: 96 students; Total: 326 students

NCMS Activities, Dean of Students Kaleb Walker

GP 1: Nothing reported this month.

GP 2: Nebraska City Middle School Quiz Bowl: The Nebraska City Middle School Quiz Bowl team, led by Mr. Case, has been practicing and sharpening their skills for the first ever Trailblazer Conference Middle School Quiz Bowl competition being held on November 19, 2021 at ESU 3 in La Vista. The competition is being hosted by Ralston and our Quiz Bowlers are excited for the new opportunity! Results will be shared after the competition!

Middle School volleyball completed their season with some noteworthy wins throughout the season. Our A team are Falls City tournament champions, and the girls played hard at the Trailblazer conference tournament on Saturday October 16th! At the Pioneer's last home volleyball game, the football team decided to show up in mass numbers and dress in a “whiteout” to support their classmates. The crowd was electric and it was fun to watch everyone support the Pioneer Middle School Volleyball team! Great season players and coaches!

The Junior Pioneer Football team completed their season with a 3-3 record and defeated Beatrice in the final seconds of their last game to give the Pioneers the victory. It was a great season and all players and coaches participated with class, a great attitude, and amazing sportsmanship! Great work Pioneers!

The Middle School Cross Country team completed their season on a high note with 4 runners competing at the State Middle School Cross Country meet. Placing in the top 10 was JR Rico! Great work runners and coaches on such a successful season!

GP 3: Nothing reported this month.

GP 4: The Middle School Student Council, the High School Student Council, and the High School Football Team presented Nebraska City’s first responders with PiONEer Family T-shirts as a thank you for all of the hard work and dedication they provide the students and faculty of Nebraska City Public Schools. These shirts were provided by each organization and these students were proud to be a part of such a meaningful gesture of appreciation! Great work PiONEers!

GP 5: Nothing reported this month.

Nebraska City High School, Principal Brian Hoover

GP 1: Second quarter/First semester-academic goal of 92 percent of students are on “graduation pace” (meaning passing 6 or more classes for the semester) has been set. Each teacher is to look at his/her own passing percentage and determine the best course of making that happen. 1st quarter-81percent of students were passing 6 or more classes. Teachers had the opportunity to collaborate with each other on the most recent early out to determine best intervention and who has rapport with which student.

Pioneer Passports-Senior students have been provided with passports with which to document the activities of senior year. The passport includes required activities such as completing a college application as well as optional activities such as composing a personal statement. Upon providing proof of completion, each completed activity is stamped by the school counselor.

GP 2: Student Council and Band - Thursday, Nov. 11 provided a Veterans Day program at the Memorial Building.

High School and Middle School worked together to provide the NCPD and Fire and Rescue with free “Pioneer Family” t-shirts as a thank you for all of the work.

Student Council hosted the Safe Trick or Treat on Wednesday, Oct. 27, from 4 to 6 p.m. We had 10 groups, 50+ high school students, and nearly 250 trick or treaters attend.

Cargill has agreed to provide a scholarship for seniors in conjunction with completing the Pioneer Passport. Details are still being worked out.

GP 3: Nebraska City High School Goal update: Current average daily attendance rate for NCHS as of Nov. 8 was 86 percent. We continue to make connections with individual students and families to increase daily attendance.

GP 4: Mrs. Vodicka has been sharing information in regards to the FAFSA information available to all seniors. We are encouraging all seniors to take time to fill out the FAFSA forms with the goal of being complete prior to Thanksgiving Break.

All teachers have completed “Student Engagement” surveys for their individual use. Teachers will not share results with administration and will use this information to assess student engagement and make any adjustments necessary. This survey strongly correlates with the Gallup student engagement survey administered building wide in the spring.

GP 5: Nothing reported this month.

NCHS Activities, Activities Director Matt Koehler

Winter sports practices start  Nov 15.

Boys basketball: 38 players signed up. 6 kids managing.

Girls basketball: 20 girls have signed up for girls basketball.

Boys wrestling: 33 Out for the first day of wrestling.

Girls wrestling: 16 Out for the first day of wrestling.

FCCLA: FCCLA currently has 19 affiliated members. Ten of those members attended the District 1 Leadership Conference at Weeping Water high school in October. We are currently working on a Tour of Homes fundraiser set for December 4 and will be hosting our annual Soup Dinner Fundraiser to benefit the Otoe County Relay for Life on Dec. 10.

Expressions: We had our first choir concert Tuesday, Nov. 2. We are looking forward to shifting into "Holiday Mode" and preparing for our concert on Sunday, Dec. 5. High School City Singers worked with Dr. Matt Hill from Peru St. College at the Trailblazer Conference Vocal Clinic on Nov. 9.

One Act Play: One Act Conference performance is on Nov. 23 at Wahoo and District One Act play is at Platteview on Nov. 29.

Speech: Current number of kids signed up for speech this year is 27, and our date of our first contest is on Dec. 4 at Norris High School. We had a speech workday for practices and team building last Saturday that roughly 15 students attended and I had a few former alums attend to assist with the team as well.

Quiz Bowl: Starting practice in December for Quiz Bowl that starts in February.

FFA: Went to National FFA Convention at the end of October and we are currently selling fruit, meat, cheese, candy, and butter braids. We earned two individual ribbons and one team ribbon at Area Land Judging and 6 individual ribbons at District Livestock Judging. We have been selling coffee to teachers weekly and have been contacted by two individuals to sell coffee in bulk for two morning events.

Science Club: Officer elections... Sean Hower, president, and Anthony Robison, secretary. We did concessions for a fundraiser. We have 7 juniors/seniors attending a UNK Science Day on Tuesday, Nov. 23, and we are fielding a team for Science Bowl in February at Concordia University.

Nebraska City Middle School’s veterans breakfast and the veterans program by the Nebraska City High School Student Council and Band, both of which took place Nov. 11 at the Nebraska City Veterans Memorial Building, are part of the district’s Education, Americanism and Civics Committee work, which was discussed Nov. 15 during the semi-annual meeting of the committee ahead of the regular November NCPS board meeting.