New School Year Begins in Beatrice
BEATRICE – It’s the first day of a new school year for most Beatrice Public School students. Grades kindergarten through ninth grade return for a half-day schedule. Grades 10 through 12 return on Wednesday. Preschool students start their new year on Thursday.
"We're excited to have all the kids back", said Superintendent Jason Alexander, speaking before the Board of Education, Monday night.
The school district is using a new software program this year in its bus transportation schedule with Mid States Bus Company. Parents can log into a computer program portal to match their student with a bus route. Alexander says it will take some time to smooth out the system.
The system also is accounting for students who option into the district, though state law does not require the district to provide bus service to those students. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jackie Nielsen showed the board the district boundary lines and where bus-riding students live, in and outside of the district. There are ten bus routes with varying numbers of students to pick up.
Nielsen said working with the software system next year will become easier with familiarity and the ability to start working with it weeks in advance of the new school year. The district is working with parents who live outside the district who are optioning into the district. Those students can ride the bus for a fee by meeting the bus at a location within the district that is near them.
The district has about 475 bus passes, compared to about 600 last year. Nielsen says the number is expected to increase somewhat. Alexander asked that parents be patient, and understand the system is new.
The Superintendent is also recommending that the district not become a member of the Greater Nebraska Schools Association.
Alexander there were positive aspects of membership in the GNSA, such as the group’s defense of equalization aid as part of the school funding formula in Nebraska.
Alexander said one difficulty for school districts is the turnover in the state legislature because of term limits, and resulting lack of understanding of the school aid formula.
As for membership in GNSA, Alexander said the fee to join the group...$4,250.. just isn’t feasible for the district, at this time.
Beatrice Public Schools has been a member in a group of districts call STANCE…Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education. Alexander said there was no membership fee to be a part of that group, though he said he is not sure that will change the coming year.
The GNSA lists 24 member school districts on its website….among them in southeast Nebraska…..Norris and Crete. STANCE lists 19 member districts on their website. Among them in this area are Beatrice, Fairbury, Norris, Crete, Nebraska City, Seward and York.
At Monday night’s school board meeting, the board approved a contract for speech pathology services this school year, at the rate of $57 per hour and approved an agreement with E-S-U Number 10 in Lincoln for enrichment activities.
The City of Beatrice has asked for help from the school district in a resurfacing of the Hannibal Park Tennis Courts, which the high school program uses for practice and competition. About $30,000 in repairs are needed.