Nokomis Board Considers Drive-By Graduation

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President Chad Ruppert called the May 19 meeting of the Nokomis School Board to order with seven board members, either in person or via Google Meets internet link.  Superintendent Doerr  was unable to attend due to a last minute family emergency.  

In absence of Superintendent Doerr, board President Chad Ruppert touched on topics that would have been in the superintendent’s report.  Although the details were not presented, Ruppert  relayed that the district had received its second quarter categorical payments from the state.  

Ruppert advised that Doerr thought there had been some miscommunication involved in the senior graduation planning.  Ruppert thought they had to make sure they allowed for enough time for people to plan for the event, yet not push it too far back.  He thought it would be best to give two weeks’ notice, but keep it as close to the traditional date as possible.  With this in mind, he proposed a very tentative date of June 6.  At this time a drive-by distribution of diplomas ceremony is planned.  Some members were concerned about the safety aspects of observers parking along the roads to watch and causing a traffic hazard, adding it would only be natural for family members and friends to want to be present at the event.  Ruppert thought they could coordinate with city police to minimize the risk.

With the legislature returning for a three-day session that week, board member Joe Gasparich thought they should wait a few days longer.

“Give the legislators a couple days to see if there are any changes coming,” Gasparich said.  The board agreed to wait and see if any changes were made in social gathering guidelines.

With respect to the summer projects, the board voted to accept the masonry bid submitted by Western Specialty Contractors for the work at the South Middle School.  The motion passed on a roll call vote with members Gasparich, Carl Ray Fesser and Ben Tarter voting against.  The seal coating project bid for the west side of the North School submitted by Dunn Company was unanimously approved by the board.

The board voted to approve the ten-year contract with Pepsi, with Gasparich voting against.

A motion to approve a four-year bus lease agreement with Midwest Transit Equipment was made and seconded.  It was approved unanimously.

The North Elementary School student handbook for the 2020-2021 school year was presented for board approval.  Principal Kevin Reedy noted changes from the previous handbook to include added language as to why a student may be not allowed to participate in a field trip, a cheating policy, and changes to the sickness absence policy.  He added they were checking on the sickness policy with medical staff.  

One of the board members added that the term “civil defense” used in the manual should be replaced with “emergency management.”  Reedy agreed to make that change.  A motion to accept the elementary school handbook was approved by the board unanimously.

The junior and senior high student handbook for 2020-2021 was also approved largely unchanged, however the honors “magna cum laude” and “cum laude” designations for graduates were added, replacing the valedictorian and salutatorian rankings.  

Principal Rachelle McDowell once again commended her students and teachers for their continued efforts during the past two months.  She was scheduling pictures with Senior Scholarship Pictures to be done by driving to their locations.

In his report to the board, Principal Reedy said his students’ participation had remained strong, but there was some obvious fatigue from this style of learning.  He said they no longer had lesson packets going out.  He voiced his concern of the widening gap between the high achieving students and those at the lower academic level.  He stressed that the first four to six weeks of the next school year would be extremely important and that it “really needs to be in the classroom.” 

Reedy also reported that kindergarten graduation had been canceled.  In lieu of the graduation ceremony, the teachers had put together a promotional video slideshow highlighting the activities and the achievements of the kindergarten class.  He said he would post it to all the Nokomis district social media platforms for viewing.

The board unanimously approved the FY21 school board meeting dates remain on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m.

After a 20 minute closed session, the board accepted resignations from Jessica Hamrock and Regina Schafer at the end of the school year, and the voluntary reduction of Darren Fritts to 5/9th time for next school year.  Landon Engelman and Landon German were hired as minimum wage student summer workers from June 1 to Aug. 14.  Preparing for next school year, the board hired elementary teacher Aubrey Vickers and junior high Title 1 aide Danielle Herpstreith, Derek Johnson as freshman boys basketball coach, and Lauri Smalley as high school cheerleading sponsor. At North School, Reedy announced that Sarah Kim will be moved to kindergarten, Dylan Perkins to third grade, and Aubrey Vickers to fourth grade.

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