Broken Bow School Board Recap Monday, September 12

BROKEN BOW – The Broken Bow Public School board held their regular meeting Monday, September 12 to discuss the looming budget hearing, recent MAPS scores and the touchy drug testing policy. All members were present save Mary Shaw, whose absence was excused. The meeting was called to order at 7:30.

Center stage belonged to the budget; due to the ask increase for the year, the board will present its numbers at a September 28 county-wide public hearing. The board acknowledged that while the document outlining the budget for the public contains enormous numbers across head-scratching categories, there is a nuance to the figures therein. Treasurer J.B. Atkins explains.

“If I was to look at this, I would be going, ‘Don’t worry about Nutrition, don’t worry about Activities, don’t worry about Employee Benefits, because none of that comes from the taxpayer. What comes from the taxpayer is the General Fund and the Special Building Fund.”

Discussion also touched on the school district’s bond fund; Superintendent Darren Tobey relayed good news regarding the fund’s future. “This will be the last year we tax in our bond fund. By doing that, we’re going to tax $430,000 this year, and invest in some treasuries at 3.4 and 3.6%, and make enough money interest-wise to make our last payment on our bond without asking for taxpayers’ money.”

MAPS standardized testing scores were in; Superintendent Tobey touted the upward trend in classrooms district-wide, highlighting the elementary school as the district’s guiding light. “What we’re doing is working, over 50% of our MAPS records have been broken over the past 2 years at the elementary level.”

The spring testing goal, Tobey said, is well within reach for the majority of the district, given the 2022-23 percentile score of 71%. “That gives us an absolute chance to get to 80%, which is what we always talk about.”

The drug policy was revisited; the board again looked to discern commencement, dances, and extracurricular activity. The majority of the school board opted to keep the drug testing policy as it was for the current year; board member Pam Holcomb explained that at three months, there are too few precedents to waver. “I think it’s far too early to start changing things because if we go down that road, I’m afraid we’ll start changing things too frequently.”

Tim Chancellor disagreed, questioning legal vulnerability of the board and its policy. “I think we should probably check with legal counsel to see if commencement is a school-sponsored activity, because we could be legally challenged on this issue if we’re wrong. I think that’d be really serious.”

In the end, the board tabled the topic until the October meeting, where it is expected to make a decision.

The board also approved the minutes of the previous meeting, the treasurer’s report and claims, and announced the hiring of Kim Wells as the new school nurse; Wells is expected to take over sometime in October.

The next Broken Bow School Board meeting was then scheduled for October 17 at 7:30 p.m., with a working meeting later this month on September 29 at noon.