Broken Bow School Board Back in Action

BROKEN BOW – The August installment of the Broken Bow Public School (BBPS) school board meeting happened just before the end of the month on Tuesday, August 30, though the board by no means was procrastinating. One board member was excused from the meeting, however by the 8:30 adjournment, all members were present.

The board trained the proverbial microscope on the drug policy, once again magnifying it as the biggest, most sensitive topic tackled on Tuesday evening.

Questions emerged as to exemptions in the policy regarding those who have not signed the drug testing agreement, and their participation opportunities regarding homecoming, prom, and commencement. Board member Tim Chancellor outlined the dilemma.

“I’d like to have a conversation on reconsideration of those types of events. Especially graduation. I think all the kids that have been here and earned the right to graduate from Broken Bow Schools, walking across the stage, I think that’s a bit of an overreach to exclude them from a graduation ceremony because of a stance neither they nor their parents might have.”

No decisions were made regarding potential exemptions; BBPS Superintendent Darren Tobey, citing wording within the policy, left the matter open to further discussion for the next meeting. “Either way, we have to do a good job of explaining. If we made a mistake, or we think we made a mistake, we’ll own up to it, and we’ll adjust it.”

The first week of testing concluded this week; there were 0 positive tests out of 15 total students tested.

Principals Helberg and Petersen delivered their first administrative comments of the year to the board; both school heads emphasized a commitment to improving the culture in their respective institutions. Principal Helberg says he plans to record bite-sized podcasts featuring interviews with students and staff each week and post them to his Twitter page; Principal Petersen has been out in front of the elementary school offering high fives and fist bumps every morning.

“It gets a little bit rambunctious, but I think it’s for the better,” Petersen says. “We’ve had very few disciplinary problems in the first week and a half. I don’t know if it has anything to do with being out front and seeing the kids; I think it does, personally. I think if they can see their principal being a little goofy and joking around with them in the morning, I think it kind of helps.”

Principal Helberg also emphasized the growth and interest in the internship program between the high school and local businesses; 25 Broken Bow juniors and seniors are interning this semester, and that number is expected to grow next semester.

Activities Director Jeff Ellis presented fall sports participation numbers for both the high school and junior high: the football roster is 31 strong, the volleyball team boasts 21 girls, 25 students in cross country, and 13 on the girls’ golf team. Junior high has 29 football players, 31 volleyball players, and 13 cross-country runners.

Stressing safety in the wake of various tragedies nationwide toward the end of last school year, Superintendent Tobey outlined protocols for the coming year, including planned lock downs and evacuation drills to occur this coming week for all schools, with periodic repetition of the drills throughout the school year.

The remaining time was mostly devoted to budget discussion; with the 5-6% ask increase, the board will be subject to an open, countywide budget hearing. School Board President Tom Osmond appointed Pam Holcomb and Amy Staples to a committee to help determine the superintendent’s salary.

The board’s next working meeting is slated for September 12, where ongoing discussion and possible decisions will be made regarding drug policy exemptions, the budget, and how to move forward on the Custer Building; the board has considered taking closed bids for the structure.