BB School Board Discusses Preschool Applicants and PLC Conference

BB School Board Discusses Preschool Applicants and PLC Conference
Broken Bow school board and administration met on February 17 to discuss preschool, teacher negotiations, social studies curriculum, and more.

BROKEN BOW—The news of a record number of preschool applicants was announced on Monday night during the February Broken Bow School Board meeting.

Special Education Director Nikki Altig reported a record number of applicants at the New Discoveries Preschool round-up held earlier this month. Altig said 41 students have applied for either morning or afternoon preschool for the 2020-2021 school year.

“The biggest thing at the preschool we did have our preschool round up on the seventh. We had 41 applicants and that is more than we’ve ever had. Last year we had 32, 33 the year before that, 23 the year before that. We’re just getting more and more three and four year olds that are needing preschool,” Altig said.

Altig said New Discoveries currently operates with a cap of 10 students in the morning and 12 in the afternoon. The cap is lower in the morning because some students have developmental or physical delays which require more help for those students who are not yet potty trained.

Altig continued, “I think we’ll see if this is going to be the new trend or not next year if we have another 41 applicants but then it brings the issue I guess you should say ‘what are we going to do with them?’ If we stick with our traditional model of keeping 10 in the morning and 12 in the afternoon there is going to be seven Broken Bow kids (seven three-year-olds) that will not have a place next year.”

Discussions will continue about staffing at the preschool but Superintendent Darren Tobey said a para might have to be added to the staff at New Discoveries in order to better accommodate the number of students.

“Those numbers have continued to go up over the last couple years so that’s exciting news that we have classes that are going to be filled as we move forward,” Mr. Tobey said.

During the Board Comments portion of the meeting, board member Pam Holcomb stated she learned a lot and was impressed by the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) conference that she, 10 elementary teachers, and Mr. Tobey attended in Arizona last month. Tobey said the teachers will present a summary of the conference (which was paid for with Title II money) in March.

“We had a PLC Conference which is Professional Learning Communities. Basically, it’s not a new idea but a collaborative idea on how education should look as we move forward. A lot of collaboration, meaning our teachers are in teams rather than teaching their own 10 or 12 kids in their own section. I’m referring to elementary because those are the teachers that went with us,” Mr. Tobey told KCNI in a Tuesday morning interview.

PLC emphasizes a team atmosphere with more ways to collaborate. Mr. Tobey said a lot of things have changed within Broken Bow Public Schools over the past 18 months.

“We have the easy part done. We’ve changed schedules, we’ve put teachers together, we’ve moved a lot in the high school and middle school last year, we’ve moved a lot of teachers around. Now the tough part is picking out those essential standards that we’re going to teach on and then coming up with some common assessments in all the age groups. It’s a long process but we’ve taken a big leap in the last 18 months to get to where we’re at right now,” Mr. Tobey said.

He said feedback has been positive from teachers who have gone to the trainings. On Monday night Mr. Tobey said PLC is “not just a program but a way of life” for teachers and staff.

Also on Monday night, treasurer J.B. Atkins said revenues were on target for this time of year during his report with Mr. Tobey adding that expenses were lower for January than in years past due to insurance payments all being made in September rather than quarterly.

North Park Principal Kim Jonas reported that the third and fifth grade classes recently baked bread as part of an activity hosted by the Extension office and Colleen Peterson. Chase Johnson will serve as “Principal for a Day” on Friday and North Park is celebrating “Random Act of Kindness Week” organized by elementary counselor Angie Miller. Mrs. Jonas said teachers are also looking at new math curriculum.

Administrators said the recent Have a Heart Food Drive involved the student council and showed a lot of student participation from all of the schools. Rusty Kluender applauded the speech team for placing second in Minden, boys wrestling, and girls basketball.

No new hires or resignations were submitted as of Monday evening but the board did approve the annual district report card, the 2020-2021 academic calendar, and the negotiated agreement.

“Teachers and the board negotiate salaries. We agreed to a $750 raise on the base. Every teacher’s contract is determined by a base amount and then there are some steps that you can fall into with education and experience. I believe last year was a $600 raise and this year was $750,” Mr. Tobey said.

Occupational and physical therapy three-year contracts were approved for the district and new social studies standards were approved which will include an econ class for juniors and more emphasis on civics and a citizenship test.

The school board will host a work session on March 2 and the next school board meeting will be on March 16, both at 7:30 p.m.