The Sidney School District School Board heard from Travis Hensley about the sorry state of the football field sod in their May 20 meeting.

Hensley showed board members pictures of the football field grounds showing large gaps between sparse clumps of grass, and explained it was not only an aesthetic issue, but also a safety issue for athletes. Hensley said he was told part of the problem was that the soil was very compacted, which would make for a harder surface for athletes to fall on and create more of a concussion risk. The present surface is also harder to get traction on.

Hensley said he and the boosters were studying ways to improve the ground condition immediately, and would really like to re-sod the field. He acknowledged the district had hoped to make a new field surface part of the bond they had tried for, and that they were considering trying for the bond again, but asked the board how long they wanted to kick the problem down the road.

Hensley said one of the things the district could do right now was to aerate the field, and much more often than they had been. The district currently aerates in spring and fall, but Hensley said they should be doing it multiple times. He also suggested the district could try having the soil tested to see if there was some other reason for poor grass growth. Overseeding was an option, but hadn't proved very successful in the past.

Hensley said he'd checked on the cost to put new sod between the hash marks on the field, an area of 7,200 square feet, and it would cost approximately $2,232 for the sod, then would have to be put in by volunteer labor. He said he and the other boosters were not unwilling to go that route, but he had checked and Logan Valley Sod would sell the sod and lay it themselves for just a few hundred more.

The board asked if Hensley had checked with any other companies to see what they would charge for the sod and installation and when he said he had not, they suggested he check with some other companies. The board approved purchasing sod and laying it, but required Hensley to get a few other estimates and have it done for less if possible.

Aaron Lang talked to the school board again about replacement computers for the teachers. Lang said he was recommending 13 inch Chromebooks from the same company where they had ordered the student computers, 2nd Gear.  Lang had obtained quotes for 65 Chromebooks from Promevo,  $28,924, and 2nd Gear, $27,290. Lang told the board if they approved the 2nd Gear offer they could probably have the computers in teachers' hands before summer, so they could spend all summer transferring info from their old computers and learning how to use the new. The board approved the purchase of the 65 computers through 2nd Gear.

The board discussed suggested changes to school meals and meal pricing. Theresa Bryant proposed they get rid of a la carte items for students, based on reporting regulations the school has to comply with. Bryant said it is actually cheaper for students to buy whole meals anyway. School board members wanted to know if students could buy second meals, and were concerned about students not getting a meal at all if they had to get the whole thing, and possibly being hungry. Board members suggested there was plenty of money in the nutrition account and they hadn't been having trouble collecting on lunch accounts, and they wanted to continue looking at options before making any meal change decisions. Members of the board also approved raising adult meal prices, but wanted to review pricing more before making any changes to student meal prices.

Sidney School District Superintendent Tim Hood reported the district had received notice they would no longer be eligible for EMC insurance, as they had had too many claims. Hood said he had three insurance representatives getting bids for the school as quickly as possible, as the school's coverage would end by July 1, 2019.

Hood told the board he had sent out surveys to all 441 of the people who voted in the school bond election, asking them to provide information about their voting choices and any suggestions they had about a possible future bond attempt. Hood said the answers to those surveys would give the district a starting point to decide future actions. Hood said he had also been approached by a company that writes grant applications for schools and was gathering more information to bring to the board.

One thing Hood thought the school should be looking at was ways to strengthen the district's vocational programs, and partners to do so. He has contacted some organizations and asked for information and meetings, and will report back.

Hood said he went to a recent meeting on the Safe Route to School in planning for Sidney. He told the board he thought the school district should look at working with the city on the route, or they could add that to bond considerations. He also thought they should consider the possibility of creating teacher housing of some kind across from the high school.

In other business, board members approved:

  • the 2019-2020 union contract agreement, with 1.41 percent increase for teachers and 1.81 percent for additional staff;
  • the updated staff handbook;
  • the purchase of three new Promethean boards;
  • the AEA purchasing agreement;
  • purchase of the Pathway to Reading K-3 literacy program and training;
  • purchase of a refrigerator and freezer for the high school building through Fisher Fixture, and
  • first and second reading of a policy changing the threshold for the requirement for competitive requests for proposals to $50,000 rather than $25,000.

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