HOLCOMB — The Holcomb USD 363 Board of Education met Monday to discuss plans for the 2018-19 school year, including security and school lunch prices.
The board heard a public comment about the district’s security in light of an incident at Holcomb Middle School in May. Substitute teacher Bonnie Bribiesca said when she was teaching at the school on May 16, a student had left the building and was trying to cause a disruption, banging on doors and windows. HMS principal Tyler Helton said the incident happened during an assembly.
Bribiesca said the school went on lockdown, and the acting administrator handled the situation well. But when the Finney County Sheriff's Office was called, the school was told the response time would be roughly 45 minutes. Bribiesca said after this experience, and in light of a limited Holcomb Police Department and the lack of emergency procedure at the school, she suggested the district look into a school resource officer.
“They always say it won’t happen here, and I truly believe we have great kids. We have a great faculty. The new security systems that will be going into place, I applaud the administration for doing that. I think that’s great. I just think we need to do more.”
Also a substitute in Deerfield, Bribiesca said there were several smaller school districts that had on-campus officers, and suggested the district look into cost-effective options, such as grants or county sponsorship.
Board President Matt Jones said the board had discussed getting a school resource officer before, but that the costs had always been a barrier. Bribiesca offered to research alternative funding methods, including grants. Jones said he and the board would look into options, as well.
“I’ll hold you to it,” Bribiesca said.
After the board approved a motion to participate in the federal school lunch program for the upcoming school year, Superintendent Jean Rush asked members to consider raising the price of student breakfast and lunch by either five or 10 cents, with the official recommendation listed as 10 cents. Board member Kasey Robinson made a motion to raise the price 10 cents, which did not receive an immediate second.
The board briefly discussed portions and food waste, prompted by Jill George asking Rush if the increased prices could help the schools give students food they would not throw away as much. Rush explained that federal portions and health requirements mandated what food the district served to students, and the increased price would not mean more food.
The price increase was to ensure there would be enough money to pay for lunches throughout the year, Rush said. She said the board had the option not to raise prices, but that may mean transfering funds from other areas later in the year.
Board member Ryan Ruda asked how much more money a five-cent increase would bring the district, to which Rush was unsure.
After the discussion, board member Curtis Peterson seconded Robinson’s initial motion, and the proposal passed unanimously.
All board members were present at the meeting, as well as Rush, Helton, Holcomb High School Principal Rob Schneeberger and Holcomb and Wiley elementary schools Principal Deana Novack. The meeting was the final one for Rush and Schneeberger. Starting next month, Rush will be replaced by Scott Myers and Schneeberger by Jason Johnson.
In other business:
• The board approved Viztum’s bid of $24,920 to replace carpet at Holcomb High School and C&C Group’s bid of $137,350 with an alternate addition of $23,500 to update Holcomb Middle School’s HVAC controls to an electronic design.
• The board approved Keller Leopold’s bid of $65,389 for the district’s worker’s compensation insurance.
• The board approved Dell’s bid of $82,628.70 to replace 70 outdated teacher laptops at the elementary and middle schools. The board also approved Julie Nemechek’s recommendation to subscribe to Rev Track’s online payment service to ease parents’ school fee payments. The service will cost the district $29.95 a month and add 3.5 percent to parents’ payments if they pay online.
• The board approved a request to increase daily substitute pay by $15. The new rates will be $120 a day for emergency substitutes and $130 a day for certified substitutes. The increase was made because of the difficulty of filling substitute teacher roles, Rush said.
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