LEXINGTON — Lexington Public Schools is still looking for bids to add field turf to Ray Ehlers Stadium. To that end, the Lexington school board approved an engineering and bidding service contract during their first meeting of 2022 on Jan. 10.
In September 2021, Lexington Public School announced a plan to add synthetic turf at Ray Ehlers Stadium. Superintendent John Hakonson noted he had spoken with the coaches and directors of different activities and they were all behind the change from natural grass to synthetic turf.
In December, the school board voted to reject the only bid, as it was for $1,315,000.00 and exceeded the district’s project budget.
During the most recent meeting, the board approved a contract with REGA Engineering for engineering, specifications and bidding services for the field turf project, in the amount of $49,900.00.
Hakonson said rather than requiring engineer-stamped plans from the turf contractor in the last request for bids, this time the district is requiring contractors to meet a pre-determined bid specification from their own independent engineer.
The hope is, by using an independent engineer, the bid will be seen by more contractors and there will be more competitive bids placed for the project.
The board took a moment for public comments on the revised Plan for Safe Return, COVID-19 exclusion and re-admittance protocol and COVID-19 self-monitoring and masking in-lieu of quarantine protocol.
Hakonson said the protocols must be reviewed and receive public comment at least every six months.
The only things that were changed reflected the Center for Disease Control own changes to isolation and quarantine protocols.
“People with COVID-19 should isolate for five days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by five days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after,” according to the CDC.
The updated plan was shared with Lexington Regional Health Center and Plum Creek Medical Group, who both agreed with the changes, Hakonson said.
With no public comment received, the board approved the updated protocols.
The board was also required to hear public comment and review the district’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) III expenditure plan. This must also occur every six months.
The list of ESSER III expenditures approved by the board last year include iPad lease and purchases, laptops for teachers, desktop computers, parent and community communication tools, Powerschool professional development, Apple technology development, hotspots for student home internet access, educational equipment, four yellow buses, carpet replacement, air quality control, social worker hire, summer writing curriculum, reading and math intervention materials, hire additional staff, construction additions at Morton, Sandoz and Bryan Elementary, etc.
There was no public comment and the unchanged plan was approved.
The board also considered approval of a settlement offer from ALICAP on the loss of a 1998 Prevost charter bus.
On Saturday, Dec. 18, the bus caught fire in the parking lot of Pierce High School after transporting the girls wrestling team for an invite. There were no injuries but the bus was a total loss.
The settlement offer, excluding the deductible, was $39,858.67, which the board approved.
Hakonson offered his thanks to Pierce Public Schools and the Pierce community for their assistance and kindness after the bus fire. The proverbial hat was passed around at the wrestling tournament and over $1,000 was raised to help the Lexington students.
It was noted that two longtime Lexington staff, Technology Director Kristi Jergensen and LHS family and consumer science teacher Barb Gydesen would be retiring at the end of the current school year.
“They both leave enormous shoes to fill and will be greatly missed,” Hakonson said.
As for hiring recommendations, the board approved Blaike Edeal as an elementary special education teacher and Destiny McVay-Schutlz as a Sandoz Elementary teacher, she will start immediately to replace three para-educators who have resigned.
The board also approved an out-of-state travel request from the Lexington High School speech team to participate in the national-qualifying competition at Spearfish, S.D., in February.
During the report period, Curriculum Director Julie Myers presented an update on the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS).
Myers said the Nebraska Department of Education will move forward with a new testing platform and is administering a NSCAS Growth Winter Pilot in December and January.
The district will use data from the NSCAS Growth and Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) growth to identify instructional opportunities.
Being the first meeting of the year, the board had several bookkeeping items to approve, but first was the election of officers.
Garth Mins was named as board president, Carlos Saiz was named vice-president, Larry Steinberger was kept on as secretary and Drew Welch was retained as treasurer.
Hakonson was authorized as the official district representative for all local, state and federal programs.
Maria Barajas, Jeremy Roberts, and Steve Smith were appointed to serve as community representatives on the Lexington Public Schools Building Corporation.
Board members Roger Reutlinger, Larry Steinberger, and Superintendent John Hakonson were appointed to the the Lexington Community Facilities Agency.
The Lexington Clipper-Herald was designated as the official district newspaper, Pinnacle Bank and Great Western Bank were named as depositories of district funds and Heldt, McKeone, & Copley Law; and KSB School Law were appointed as legal counsel for the district.
The board also took time to receive public input on policies related to reimbursement and miscellaneous expenditures and the method of providing public notice for board meetings, as required by statue. There was no comment and the policies were approved.
During the comment period, LHS Assistant Principal Cindy Baum said an academic pep rally will take place at the high school on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 2:30 p.m. She said it is a great time to note all of the achievements of the students over the first semester.
Hakonson said Matt Fitzgerald will be replacing Jim Bliven as the district’s student attendance hearing officer starting this month and Scott Schoneman, retiring as Holdrege’s Athletic Director, will be Lexington Athletic Director Phil Truax’s new administrative assistant.
On Jan. 18, school attorney Bobby Truhe will present to the 4-12 grades on responsible digital citizenship. Hakonson noted there have been several discipline issues related to inappropriate content this year and the hope is the presentation will highlight the dangers of risky digital behavior.