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School Board ends use of gym at Donnybrook

The Kenmare school board made several decisions that will impact student activities next year, during a regular meeting held May 10th. Board members started with an extensive discussion of the use of the Donnybrook gymnasium for practices and junior high boys basketball games. Activities Committee chairman Mike Zimmer reported on a meeting held with Curt Graff and Dennis Huff of Donnybrook.

5/18/11 (Wed)


By Caroline Downs
The Kenmare school board made several decisions that will impact student activities next year, during a regular meeting held May 10th.
Board members started with an extensive discussion of the use of the Donnybrook gymnasium for practices and junior high boys basketball games. Activities Committee chairman Mike Zimmer reported on a meeting held with Curt Graff and Dennis Huff of Donnybrook. “They need to have a decision from us sometime before next fall,” Zimmer said, “but there was no consensus coming out of committee.”
The district paid approximately $8600 this year to use the Donnybrook gym, including $5600 for rent and heat and about $3000 in fuel and driver costs to transport students to the facility. The district also rents the Memorial Hall from the city of Kenmare, but does not use that smaller gym for games.
Board members talked about the basketball practice schedules and conflicts for the elementary, junior high and varsity programs, the condition of the floor tiles in the Donnybrook gym, and problems with using the Memorial Hall for games at the junior high and varsity levels.
“I’d rather quit renting the hall and utilize the bigger area for the crowd and more baskets at the Donnybrook gym,” said board president Lenny Rodin, who also coaches 8th grade boys basketball.
“We’re talking about saving some money here, and this is a great opportunity to do that,” said David King. “There are a lot of school districts that have only one gym. I don’t see why we can’t get by with two and save $8600.”
Jan Kostad asked high school principal Scott Faul about the coaches’ opinions. “Most of our coaches want to go to the Donnybrook gym instead of the Hall,” said Faul.
Zimmer had checked the schedule and reported the varsity boys basketball team practiced at the Donnybrook gym early in the season, the varsity girls used it once or twice a week throughout the season, and the 7th and 8th grade boys team spent all their practices there.
Board members approved King’s motion to stop renting the Donnybrook gym for games and practices on a 5-2 vote.
Computers for every
student in grades 7-12
The board approved a motion to purchase 120 netbook computers for use in grades 7-12 next year.
Technology Committee chairman Craig Ellsworth offered the motion. The computers will cost approximately $60,000, which includes Microsoft Office software loaded for student use. A security software will be purchased for $4500 to allow teachers to monitor the computers in their classroom.
“We felt pretty positive about moving forward with those netbooks and get those into the hands of the students,” Ellsworth said.
The 2010-2011 district budget included $79,000 for technology equipment, with approximately $47,000 remaining, according to business manager Renae Murphy. “We’re going to try to pay for half of these out of this year’s budget,” she said.
Ellsworth reported the committee discussed hiring a full-time technology coordinator. However, they agreed with Superintendent Duane Mueller that Arnold Jordan, the current tech coordinator, was doing a excellent job and believed he would be able to monitor and maintain the additional equipment.
The board also discussed a system to replace the netbooks, which have an expected use of about four years. “We’re hoping to start a rotation after three years,” Ellsworth said.
Bus will pick up students
at Bowbells next year
Board members approved a motion 6-1 to send a bus to the city of Bowbells to pick up students living there who are enrolled in Kenmare Public School, beginning with the 2011-2012 school year.
Currently, a Kenmare school bus meets students and their parents from Bowbells at the Lakeshore Crossing on U.S. Highway 52.
“We have enough kids coming to Kenmare school that providing that service is a good idea,” said board member and bus driver Roger Johnson. “I realize some parents will be upset, but I think we have to take care of the transportation needs of our students.”
Johnson made the motion after Murphy read letters submitted by Bowbells parents Tami Chrest and Kelly Holter requesting the Kenmare school bus arrange a stop in Bowbells to pick up and drop off their children. The letters mentioned difficulties with work schedules and after-school child care that could be resolved if the bus drove the children to Bowbells and back.
In response to board members’ questions, Superintendent Mueller said 16 students from Bowbells had open enrolled at Kenmare and could potentially ride the bus.
Mike Zimmer, who seconded the motion, expressed his concern about safety at the Lakeshore Crossing stop, given the increased volume of semi-truck traffic on U.S. Highway 52 and the fact the bus stops at the bottom of the valley there.
Spring Sports
The board talked about spring sports and reviewed the low participation numbers. Zimmer reported the Activities Committee’s recommendation to drop one of the spring sports. “The discussion focused on baseball, which is on the edge of having enough people for a team, and track,” he said.
Board members continued that discussion, considering costs for travel, coaches and outfitting players, field conditions, and the option to establish a cooperative agreement with MLS-Glenburn for baseball. Currently, Kenmare and Bowbells co-op for the baseball program.
Zimmer offered a motion to form the co-op with MLS-Glenburn, with further discussion about the estimated costs. Kostad pointed out the coach’s pay would be about $3000, and business manager Renae Murphy told board members to figure $100 per day of practice to pay the driver and fuel costs to transport players to the field in Lansford where practice is held.
Zimmer wanted board members to consider factors other than cost. “I understand we have a budget,” he said, “but we can’t just run all our activities based on the budget.”
His motion to form a baseball co-op failed 4-3.
However, a motion to create a track co-op between Kenmare-Bowbells and MLS for the 2011-2012 school year passed 6-1.
All spring sports were left on the schedule for now. Participation numbers may determine if a sport is eliminated next spring.
Board members voted unanimously to charge a $500-per-athlete participation fee to the Bowbells and Burke Central schools to assist with costs in outfitting players for football. The board also approved a motion 6-1 to raise the season activity pass fees from $50 to $60 per year for adults and from $25 to $30 per year for students. Individual gate fees will increase to $6 for adults and $3 for students.
In other activities-related discussions, the board talked about withdrawing from the Northwest Conference boys and girls holiday basketball tournaments in order to schedule more home games during the season.
Zimmer also reviewed several recommendations for changes to the extra duty salary schedule, but no action was taken because of ongoing salary and benefits negotiations.
In Other Business:
• Board members approved minutes of the March meeting and the district’s bills for payment as presented.
• Murphy reported the district’s year-end balance would be higher than she expected, even after purchasing a new school bus and a portion of the student netbook computers. “At this point in time, I’m going to guess the interim balance is going to be about half a million [dollars],” she said.
She added that the 2011-2012 budget revenue for the district would also be higher than estimated, following the state legislature’s action to increase the amount of funding allocated to K-12 education.
• The board unanimously approved a motion to purchase a 2012 model school bus from Trucks of Bismarck, Inc. The district received a federal transportation grant for $30,192 to apply toward the $76,147 cost of the bus. The motion included a plan to upgrade the bus with a 240-hp motor and a hitch to be used as an activity bus if needed. The bus will be ready for delivery late in the fall.
• Negotiations Committee chairman Lenny Rodin reported the next meeting with representatives of the Kenmare Education Association to negotiate salaries and benefits for the 2011-2012 school year would be held Monday, May 16th at 4 pm.
• Principal Faul reported Kenmare High School complies with regulations for Title IX for school sports, based on enrollment figures and participation numbers by male and female athletes. He also noted the weather had been disastrous for the spring sports schedules. “The kids who are out there have been resilient, though,” he said, “and they’ve done a good job.”
• Superintendent Mueller announced interviews were completed for the high school principal’s position. “As a group, we’ve narrowed it down to two people,” he said. Rodin, who served on the interview committee, said the committee had discussed holding the position open for a couple more weeks, but Mueller said the decision couldn’t wait. “We waited three weeks, and we lost two candidates then,” he said.
• The Hot Lunch Committee, with members Lars Christensen, Johnson and Kostad, scheduled a meeting for May 13th.
• The Policy Committee, with members Johnson, Zimmer and Rodin, scheduled a meeting for May 13th.
• The Negotiations and Finance Committee, with members Rodin, Zimmer and Kostad, scheduled a meeting for May 16th.
• The Building Committee, with members Kostad, Ellsworth and Christensen, scheduled a meeting for Thursday, June 9th, at 8 am.
• The board held an executive session on May 10th to discuss negotiation strategies.
• The next regular meeting of the Kenmare school board will be held Tuesday, June 14th, at 7:30 pm at Kenmare High School following the school district election scheduled for that day.