Enrollment decline could mean bleak future


News editor

A "State of the District" PowerPoint presentation was delivered to Peabody-Burns USD 398 board of education during the Dec. 10 school board meeting.

Peabody-Burns Superintendent Rex Watson made the presentation to give board members an idea of what the future could hold for the district if enrollment continues its current decline.

Enrollment projections, enrollment trends, base state aid per pupil projections, budget options, tax issues, general fund depletion, staff salaries, and inflation all were a part of the presentation.

According to Watson the district will need to make some changes if it is to remain viable.

The issues were discussed by the board, but no action was taken. Watson noted he would make a similar presentation to district staff members before the holiday break.

Plans also may include making the presentation to community and civic organizations in an attempt to educate a large part of the district about what it could be facing in a few years.

The board also heard from Peabody-Burns Elementary School principal Ken Parry about an anti-bullying policy.

Parry reminded board members the state legislature has mandated all districts to have an anti-bullying policy in place by Jan. 1.

Parry and the other administrators recommended a plan compatible with the Boys Town Discipline Model in use in the district. The plan was reviewed by the curriculum committee, the site council, and school counselors. After discussion the board unanimously approved use of the plan.

In other business, the board:

— accepted the resignation of Kim Topham as assistant high school track coach effective immediately and the resignation of Ronnie Harms as bus driver effective Dec. 13.

— approved an emergency substitute license for Matthew Regier for the 2007-08 school year and supplemental assignments as follows: Kim Topham as assistant junior high track coach, Joseph Brunner as assistant C-team high school boys' basketball coach, and Philip Unruh, assistant high school baseball coach. The supplemental assignments are for the 2007-08 school year.

— heard from Watson that he and Kent Stuart and Chris Cezar toured Peabody-Burns Elementary School Nov. 19 to consider building options for the special education cooperative. The board discussed transportation, lease, and classroom remodeling issues, but took no action.

— heard from Watson that he met with Peabody City Council members Nov. 26 to discuss relocating the district FFA farm under a lease agreement at the city industrial park or on the land near the sewer lagoons. Watson recommended selling the land currently occupied by the FFA farm and using the proceeds to re-invest in improvements at the new location.

— heard also the school and the city will be working on a comprehensive maintenance agreement to cover all the stand-alone agreements currently in force between the two entities. The board reviewed and discussed a draft copy of the agreement. Watson recommended removing the agreement to perform landscaping and routine maintenance on the "Peabody" sign at the corner of Ninth and Walnut.

— tabled until the January meeting any decision about changing district election methods. Watson presented information on current board member election districts, deadlines for changing the method of election, and advantages of having a district represented by seven at-large members. The issue was discussed, but no action taken.

— rescheduled the board retreat until 1 p.m. Jan. 5. The retreat will take place at the central office.

— accepted changes to the by-laws of the district curriculum committee.

— entered two five minute executive sessions. The first was to discuss matters relating to personnel, the second for preliminary discussion of the acquisition of property. No action on either issue was taken following the board's return to open meeting.

— heard that electrical wires in the elementary school breaker box corroded and caused an electrical outage. Repairs will be made during Christmas break.