The Blair Community Schools Board of Education approved the 2019-20 budget with a lower tax levy and a slight property tax increase.
However, the vote was not unanimous. Board members voted 6-2 to approve the budget. Board President Kari Loseke and board member Bob Schoby voted against it. Board member Laura Ronning was absent.
“My position remains unchanged,” Schoby said.
At a special board meeting Aug. 26, both Loseke and Schoby questioned if the district couldn't lower the levy even more.
“I think there is room for some reduction because of the 5 percent increase in valuation,” Loseke said Aug. 26. “It does give us quite a bit more money than we've had in the past.”
The 2019-20 total property tax request is $21.3 million, which encompasses the general fund, the bond fund, special building fund and qualified capital purpose undertaking fund. The total tax rate is $1.171002.
Board accepts teacher's resignation
The board reluctantly accepted the resignation of Title 1 reading teacher Michelle Simpson.
Simpson's husband got a new job in another state, prompting the move.
Board members voiced their concerns on filling the position in the middle of the school year. In her letter to the board, Simpson said should would stay until “a solution” could be found.
Arbor Park Intermediate Principal Laura Jackson said the district would be looking for a long-term substitute. However, other reading teachers could also fill in as needed.
“Obviously, with the reading law, we're looking for qualified individuals,” she said.
Title 1 is a federally funded program that provides for struggling readers in elementary and secondary schools.
BCS to purchase new bus
BCS will purchase a new school bus after receiving a grant from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.
The board approved a bid from Cornhusker International Trucks Inc. for $92,630. The grant will cover approximately $42,000 of the cost.
Band room to get new lighting
The board approved a bid from Echo Group Inc. for installation of new LED lights in the Blair High School band room.
The bid, which is $15,400, will replace 14 existing ceiling fixtures. It will be paid out of the district building fund.
Districts to share occupational therapist
BCS will once again share an occupational therapist with Arlington Public Schools and Fort Calhoun Community Schools for the 2019-20 school year.
The board approved an interlocal agreement with both districts to share the costs. The districts had a similar agreement for the 2018-19 school year.
Teacher plans trip to Washington, D.C.
Otte Blair Middle School (OBMS) eighth-graders will have an opportunity to visit the nation's capital next summer.
Social studies teacher Terry Bellamy requested permission to take students to Washington, D.C., from June 8-11 through the Global Travel Alliance.
The trip is funded by parents with no liability or cost to the district.
Bellamy plans to align the experience to his curriculum. He is also planning a second trip in 2021.
OBMS, FFA receive donations
OBMS Principal Dr. Chris Stogdill received a $1,000 donation from Family Fare as part of the Direct Your Dollars program at the school.
Schools can earn the funds by collecting $150,000 in receipts.
Blair FFA also received a donation from the Washington County Fair Board for the organization's work during the fair. FFA received $1,175.
BHS choir to perform with Omaha Symphony
The Blair High School concert choir will perform in the Omaha Symphony's annual Choral Collaborative on Nov. 10 at the Holland Performing Arts Center.
This is the fourth straight year the BHS choir has been asked to be a part of the event.