School board approves 2015-16 calendar with 2:30 out on all Fridays
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
A busy Feb. 10 school board meeting included action on new Supt. Joey Lefdal’s two-year contract, salary increases for the CCS principals and a big change in the 2015-16 calendar.
Lefdal, who was offered the position last month after interviews to replace Supt. Brad Schoeppey, was formally hired last week on a two-year contract. Lefdal officially starts on July 1.
He will be paid $130,000 for the 2015-16 school year and $135,000 for 2016-17.
The contract also allows up to $5,000 for moving expenses with documentation, and provides for 15 working days of vacation leave in the summers when school is not in session, unless approved by the board president.
It also includes health and dental insurance consistent with that provided to other classified employees.
The motion accepting the contract was approved on an 8-0 vote. Board member Steve Wallin was absent.
Also approved at the meeting last week were 2015-16 salary increases for K-6 Principal Susie Stewart and 7-12 Principal Mike Sorensen.
Stewart, who will begin her third year at Chase County Schools this fall, received a $6,500 increase in her $71,500 salary, up to $78,000 for next year. That represents a 9 percent increase.
Sorensen will earn $87,500 in 2015-16, up 1.7 percent from his current $86,000 a year.
The principals’ salary hikes came after an hour and 20 minute closed session for board discussion on personnel.
Next year, students out all Fridays at 2:30 p.m.
Two motions approved the school’s 2015-16 calendar on 8-0 votes.
A big change in the calendar, recommended by the board’s calendar committee, will be a 2:30 p.m. dismissal each Friday of the school year.
Classes Mondays through Thursdays next year will continue with 3:30 p.m. dismissals as they are this year.
Students will be out an hour earlier on Fridays, but the teaching staff will remain on duty to work on the school’s Professional Learning Community (PLC) effort.
Teachers at all grade levels have attended PLC workshops at the ESU 15 headquarters in Trenton this year. PLC goals, according to a school board report from Principal Stewart earlier this school year, include impacting learning, collaboration between teachers and using data in their efforts toward essential learning.
Other early-outs at 1:30 p.m. also remain in the 2015-16 calendar at the end of the first three quarters and on the last day of school May 20, 2016.
The 2:30 Friday dismissal drew a lot of board discussion last week.
A question from board member Gregg Smith asked what effect it would have on the state-required number of student attendance hours, which is 1,080, according to Schoeppey.
For K-6 students, Supt. Schoeppey said CCS currently exceeds the requirement by the equivalent of 22 days, and by about 20 days over the requirement for secondary level students (7-12).
The 2:30 Friday dismissals over a year’s time would be the equivalent of about five days in the elementary grades, he said.
It was Schoeppey’s recommendation that each class period on Fridays be shortened about five minutes to make up for the early out at 2:30. He said one of the advantages of an earlier Friday dismissal is that students won’t miss as much class time in the eighth period of the school day.
Schoeppey noted that of the nine area schools who are part of ESU 15, only Chase County and Wauneta/Palisade do not dismiss early on Fridays.
Sports practices will continue to start at 3:30 p.m., which brought up discussion on unsupervised students for the hour from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
“We will have to have some kind of supervision in place,” said board member Sheila Stromberger, a calendar committee member.
One thing the calendar does not include was scheduling for the district music contest.
Stromberger and other board members noted that CCS hosted district music two consecutive years in 2012 and 2013. McCook hosted it in 2014 and will be the host again this spring.
“I have a problem with us hosting it as often as we’re expected to host it,” Stromberger said, “and teachers being required to be here” to help with the various tasks of putting on a district music event.
She estimates an expense of $16,000 to host the day-long district contest when considering the staff time. No classes are held, either, since classrooms are required.
“I’m not in favor of us hosting it again,” she said. “I think it’s fine for everybody to take their turn.”
Activities Director Troy Hauxwell said he’s already received a call from McCook Public Schools asking when the 2016 contest will be in Imperial.
Stromberger asked if the contest could be on a Saturday. Hauxwell said there are other Saturday events affecting schools in their district, such as track and golf meets, that will conflict that time of year if moved to a Saturday. District music is often on a Thursday or Friday.
Stromberger said she’d be okay with a Saturday contest here, but not on a school day when they have to assume staff expenses.
A Saturday contest would still take volunteers. Stromberger said when it’s hosted by McCook, they require participating schools in the music district to provide staff members to assist or that school is charged a fee.
There are 22 other schools in the same District 5 in which Chase County and McCook compete in music.
Other 2015-16 calendar highlights:
First day of 2015-16 classes: Thursday, Aug. 20; teacher inservice/workdays Aug. 17-19.
Fall break: Oct. 16-19.
Christmas break: Dec. 21 to Jan. 1, 2016 (classes resume Jan. 4).
Graduation: May 14, 2016.
Last day of classes: Friday, May 20, 2016; teacher checkout May 23, 2016.