By Alex Haglund
The Nashville Community High School Board’s regular meeting for February was held on the evening of Monday, February 26, a week later than normal, due to the regular meeting night falling on President’s Day.
Work Following ROE Inspection
At an earlier meeting, Hawkins had told the board that in the fall of this school year, the Regional Office of Education had made an inspection visit at the school and had proposed several repairs.
Hawkins presented a general plan for getting those repairs done to the board at this meeting,.
Hawkins stated that overall, the repairs would cost around $24,000, which, “I’m trying to stretch over two years.”
Hawkins said that he planned to use the district’s health life safety funds, which are earmarked only to be used for items such as these repairs, to pay for them.
Some of the items include new exit signs, emergency lighting on the stage, ventilation for the teacher work area (due to copiers and printers being set up in that area), and door closers, about 100 of them are needed in total.
Along with that work, there are a number of items that will be done by the district in-house, including some edging work, closure of vents in doors, and the addition or replacement of electrical outlets.
Principal Mark Begando spoke to the board, giving his monthly report on the goings-on at NCHS.
“It looks like the end might be in sight for our flu season,” Begando said, “It can’t come quick enough. It’s been a bad one.”
Begando had spoken about the flu’s impact on student and staff attendance, but Interim Superintendent Thomas Hawkins stated that the effect on attendance was not as bad as it could have been and given that it was out of Bagndo’s control anyway, he shouldn’t beat himself up over it.
Begando offered his thanks to teachers and staff who helped students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests, saying that some teachers even stayed late of their own accord to help with coaching atutoring for the tests. Other teachers, he said, pushed their students into having a mindset for success on the tests.
For graduation this year, gowns worn by seniors will be royal blue (”Hornet Blue”, if you will) instead of navy blue as they had been. Begando and Hawkins stated that the change was based on a student initiative by seniors who then took a poll on the issue.
Kindness Week, part of Kindness Matters at NCHS, will be coming up later in the month of March, Begando told the board.
As part of the work to encourage kindness, the school will be hosting a trivia night on March 19, a showing of the movie “Wonder” on March 20, Carl Wilkins will be giving a presentation at the school on March 21, and on March 22, the English Department will be hosting an REI – Respect, Empathy and Inclusion, Open-Mic Night. Related to this, the board also approved the creation of an activity fund for Kindness Matters.
Hawkins said that school security and safety concerns had been a central point of discussion and planning at the district in the days since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, February 21.
Hawkins said that he wished to discuss the specifics of the school’s plans with the board in closed session so as not to make the details of them known to the public.
Hawkins did state that, “the administration and staff have been working very diligently to keep this school safe.”
Hawkins did state that the District was communicating with local law enforcement and that police would be present at the school regularly.
On the Monday following the school board meeting, Begando stated that he, Hawkins and several teachers had been meeting with groups of NCHS students on the afternoon of Sunday, March 4, so that the students had a forum to share their concerns and ideas.
The board approved repairs to the roofs over both baseball field dugouts, which had become overweathered and had rotted in spots.
The repairs will include new steel I-beams in front of each dugout to raise the roof’s pitch, along with new green metal roofs to match the one over the crow’s nest.
The cost of the repairs is $7,000. They will be performed by Larry Oller.
Begando mentioned the 5Essentials survey that had been adminstered to NCHS students, teachers and parents. Begando said that while responses from students and teachers to the online survey were good, the response from parents – 48% was, in his own experience, unprecedented.
“That’s over the top. I’ve never had it that high before,” Begando said, saying that he recalls having given out the survey three times previously and the highest response rate that he ever got from parents was around three-percent. Ten-percent is the response required to output a report from the survey for parents, so “at 48%, that’s remarkable.”
Later, the report will come out and then the data will be aggregated and the with the school improvement team, Begando will make a report to the board and he and the team will be attempting to plan to make improvement to address the needs illustrated by the survey.
5Essentials is mandatory in Illinois, but this year, there was a delay in the survey’s implementation by about two weeks. Begando stated that the survey reports typically come out some time in April, but with the delays in the initial survey, he thought that the information from them might be delayed as well.
With plans to bring the results to the board and administration, and for he and the school improvement team to begin working on ideas to address the information highlighted by then survey, “I sure hope that we get the results back by the end of the school year,” Begando said.
District Bookkeeper Stephanie Bauza gave a report for the month, saying that, “we have received about 92% of our taxes.”
After a call to the office of the Washington County Treasurer, Bauza said that she was told that the last part of the district’s local money for the year should be in district hands some time during the early part of March.
Other Board Items
The board approved on second reading the long list, 28 items, of board policy manual revisions that they first saw at their January meeting.
Hawkins spoke to the board about the Major Clarity grant which they had given conditional approval to Hawkins applying for on behalf of the district.
“It just wasn’t for us,” Hawkins said. “Basically, it was a three year grant. They would have paid for the first year.”
While Hawkins said that there would have been a way for the district to get out of the deal for the second two years if they really wanted to, he didn’t see the point in the district stopping to use a new piece of software for just a year when there were other similar services already available to NCHS students through the Regional Office of Education.
The board approved the new district calendar. Hawkins said that teachers and staff, as well as Superintendent Michael Brink of Nashville Primary School District 49 had all looked through the proposed calendar with Hawkins and checked it out.
There is surplus district property, mainly kitchen equipment, that the board approved authorizing Hawkins to dispose of. Hawkins said that he planned on advertizing what the items were and then accepting bids from the general public to sell the items.
The board approved a request that the NCHS Math Team be allowed to attend a competition at SEMO on April 12.
The board approved the Spanish Class’ European trip in June of 2019. Hawkins stated that Spanish teacher Haeli Williamson would be returning to discuss more plans and specifics with the board as the time for the trip draws closer and more plans are formulated.
The board approved extending Principal Mark Begando’s contract through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
There was a student requesting to play in two sports for the spring. Hawkins stated that he had discussed the request from the student’s parents with the coaches in question, the athletic director and the guidance office and they were all on board with the plan. The board approved the request.