Nevis to access federal funds for technology, building costs
BY JEAN RUZICKA
The Nevis School Board approved applying for federal Qualified Zone Academy Bonds after review of a plan on the use of the $500,000, which the school is eligible to borrow.
A decision was tabled in June after board member Andy Lindow asked for a comprehensive list of specific projects and costs for which the funds would be used.
The list was presented this week, with Jeannette Dudley questioning, “If the QZAB funds weren’t available, would we have this list?”
The funds will be earmarked for technology and building and maintenance.
Proposed technology expenditures total $184,500. These include the purchase of Microsoft Surface RT tablets for grades 8-12, which are tentatively expected to be implemented by the second semester, at a cost of $90,000.
The antiquated phone system is in need of replacement, at an estimated $40,000. The gym’s sound system needs a $15,000 update. Surveillance cameras come with a $10,000 price tag. Smart boards ($2,500), computer replacements ($12,000), network sub switches ($7,000) and a copy machine ($8,000) are on the list.
Building and maintenance costs, totaling $508,000 include $125,000 to cover a possible shortfall in the current construction funding, an “optional” $180,000 to construct a hallway between the high school academic wing and Tiger Arena, original gym floor updates and bleachers at a cost of $65,000 and door locks at $40,000.
Acoustics in the gym would be a $15,000 expenditure; “has to be done” playground fencing is $40,000. Roof repair will run an estimated $20,000 per year and cafeteria tables, which would reduce the number of “lunch runs” to three, come with a $23,000 price tag.
Administration of the program comes with a 5 percent fee with little or no interest. Payment would be over a 10-year period, superintendent Steve Rassier explained.
“This is the cheapest money we can get,” board chair Ed Becker pointed out.
“Some of this can’t be put off,” Gary Stennes noted.
“I think we should take advantage of QZAB and appropriate accordingly,” Justin Isaacson said, advocating prioritizing projects.
“This board does not have a habit of spending frivolously,” Marv Vredenburg said.
“We don’t have to follow through if we’re not happy with the bond sale,” Rassier pointed out.
The motion to accept the QZAB funds met board approval, with Lindow and Dudley voting in opposition.
In other action, the board:
n Reviewed a summary of the closed meeting to evaluate Rassier’s performance during the past school year.
“Many positive comments were made, including:
“He has a strong grasp of school finances. He brought us through tough financial times.
“His interaction with parents, staff and students is even mannered, patient and open-minded.
“He is knowledgeable on education laws and policies.”
The report states that Rassier has been asked “to focus on relaying a clear understanding of our policies to the faculty, emphasizing that they must be followed. He is asked to work closely with our principal on enforcing our discipline policies by insisting on compliance by staff and students.
“He was also asked to monitor the maintenance, transportation and food service department heads to be more diligent in comparing prices and quality on repeated purchases,” the report states.
“Overall,” Rassier “was given a high rating on his performance.”
n Reviewed strategic plans as presented by principal John Strom.
School within a School for grades 6-8 will be implemented in September.
He reported a significant number of online college credits are being used by students. “We are not losing students to PSEO.”
He said there is a “slow expansion” of school-to-work opportunities.
A new science curriculum that’s in compliance with state requirements will be implemented this fall. “Concepts in Chemistry” will be offered for the first time.
Staff development plans call for a workshop for teachers to detect warning signs for early onset of mental illness in children and adolescents.
Two days of iPad workshops will be offered in August, the devices to be introduced to students this fall.
(Nevis’ two preschool classrooms will receive six each with kindergarten, first and second grades receiving 12 per classroom, roughly a two student to one computer ratio.
Kids in grades three through seven will each be issued an iPad.)
The teacher evaluation process will be re-examined in light of possible state law changes.
Strom recommended more cameras be installed in buses.
The plan calls for a “renewed effort to attract parents onto school committees” and engage them “in their child’s educational opportunities.”
Conversely, the plan calls for expanding student participation in community events.
n Reported construction is progressing. Heavy rainfall resulted in water in four classrooms on the north side of the school, the carpeting to be replaced.
n Indicated lunch prices will be increased by 10 cents in 2013-14, a formal decision expected in August.
n Approved the sale of a 1996 Suburban, to be advertised locally, and a 1996 Carpenter bus, that will be marketed on eBay.
n Approved Bill Dent as assistant boys basketball coach and Megan Winter as assistant girls basketball coach.