SUPERIOR, Nebraska (STPNS) -- Members of the Superior Board of Education met for just slightly more than an hour Monday evening in regular session. There was only one action item besides approving the agenda and October claims - approving a local substitute certificate for Rex Kirchhoff.

District Must Replace Vans

Kevin Knoell, transportation director, reported the bus routes and activity trips have gone well. "You hear the horror stories," he said. "But I have been impressed with the students. I have been surprised."

Charles Isom, superintendent, said the district owns five extended 15-passenger vans which must be dropped from the fleet within three years (required by law.) He encouraged the board to consider replacing them with 12-passenger vans which could be used to transport 10 passengers plus the driver (maximum set by law.) Either the front passenger seat is removed, or it can not be used.

Suburban type vehicles are being used by some districts instead of vans, but they are limited to eight passengers.

In addition, Supt. Isom encouraged the board to consider replacing a route bus this year. A Ford bus used on the Hardy route has the most miles (135,000).

"It has the easiest route," Knoell said. "90 percent of the route is highway."

The matter was referred to the transportation committee which will be expected to bring a recommendation to the board in December.

Workshop Planned

Sunday, Sept. 21, the board met in special session. Marcia Herring, Nebraska Association of School Boards, led the board through a series of goal setting exercises. The primary focus of the meeting revolved around updating and maintaining facilities, enrollment and financial growth, curriculum and assessments.

The November meeting will include a workshop. During the workshop the board's task will be to establish a time line for the objectives established in Sept. 21 workshop.

Foreign Language Instruction

Aintzane Zaton, the district's Spanish instructor, is contracted annually. However, she is part of an exchange program that terminates at the end of three years. Supt. Isom, has asked Zaton if she would like to continue teaching in Superior if an arrangement could be made to lengthen her stay in the U.S. He reported Zaton asked for time to think it over and then indicated she should move closer to her aging parents. Isom asked the board if he should pursue finding another Spanish teacher through the exchange program sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Education or should the district attempt to offer Spanish to students through the distance learning center?

Spanish class sizes range from 12 to 15 students at junior high and high school entry level. However, approximately six students enroll in Spanish IV. Darrell Kile, board member, said, "I think learning a foreign language would be easier if you could talk to the teacher."

Distance learning facilities are expected to become more user friendly. Supt Isom indicated he had budgeted $30,000 for distance learning upgrade. The upgrade will let students take virtual field trips and expand the district's opportunities to secure instruction from across the state.

Based on what seemed to be board consensus, Supt. Isom will explore securing a Spanish teacher via the exchange program.

Football Field Sprinklers

Supt. Isom had conferred with B-Green regarding the installation of a sprinkler system at the Brodstone Memorial football field. For approximately $5,500 plus trenching cost, a watering system could be installed.

"I think the watering system is inefficient now," Isom said. "We water right during the middle of hot windy days."

A sprinkler system could deliver water at night and minimize labor costs. Currently it takes at least three and sometimes four pipe settings to water the field.

"I am not crazy about funding a sprinkler system after the cuts we made earlier," Janice Tordurp, board member said in response.

Others concurred, but asked for more information including man hours required to irrigate the football fields and water usage. The matter was referred to the buildings and grounds committee.

Administrative Reports

Wednesday, elementary school started two hours late because of a teacher inservice. Title I personnel met with elementary instructors to review the difference between school-wide versus targeted assistance. Supt. Isom said, "I am more comfortable with school-wide assistance."

He also reported the district is frustrated with copier service. The current lease is a three-year lease with a remaining year. "Can I make a change without bringing it to the board if I can save you money?" he said. By consensus the board asked to be involved in the next copier lease.

He also distributed a handout reviewing option students. Thirty-five students optioned into the district and 26 optioned out. Students optioning out of the district attend Blue Hill (2), Deshler (2), Lawrence-Nelson (2) and Red Cloud (19). Student optioning into the district come from Lawrence-Nelson (11), Shickley (1), Deshler (3) and Thayer Central (1). In addition 19 student come from Kansas and two option into Kansas.

Supt. Isom highlighted two potential legislative concerns for the 2009. One would require seat belts on school buses and the other overhauls the student assessment system.

Doug Hoins, elementary principal, reported students had participated in several field trips. Fifth and sixth grade students attended the Earth Jamboree at Clay Center and leadership team at ESU 9. Fourth grade students participated in Kids Fitness at Hastings College.

During parent teacher conferences, 207 parents out of a possible 211 attended elementary parent-teacher conferences (98.1 percent.) At the junior-senior high only 56 percent of the potential possible visits were made compared to 68 percent last year. Bob Cook speculated that participation was affected by three things. First, each missed visit translate into eight opportunities compared to five or six last year because there are no study halls this year, so if a parent chose not to participate it had a greater impact on the percentage participation. In addition, parents have contact with teachers via the internet thus many do not feel the need to attend parent teacher conferences.

Clowns Promote Safety

Three clowns presented fire safety skits for Superior elementary students last Wednesday: Bobo (Steve Hiatt), Skippy (Rick Hiatt) and Duffy (Dove Webber.) The skits covered the main themes of fire safety which included don't play with matches, cooking safety, overloading electrical outlets at home with extension cords, having an escape plan, calling 911 and using stop, drop and roll.

In addition members of the Superior Volunteer Fire department hosted tours at the Public Safety Building for South Ward students Monday and Tuesday.

TV Added to SHS Commons

A 42-inch high definition television has been installed in the cafeteria at Superior High School. Cook, reported he had taken bid at Pamida, Scott TV and SISCO. SISCO came in with the low bid. The television is hard wired to the gymnasium so anything filmed in the gym can be viewed in the cafeteria. In addition he hopes to show Channel One during lunch hour.

"Currently, Channel One takes away from class time. If a teacher allow 15 minutes for students to complete their homework, the day Channel One is in their class room, it does not allow much time for instruction," he said.

Funds for the project were donated by Target and Pamida.