School frets over new Internet rulesNew federal rules for child Internet safety make “technologically impossible” demands on district personnel and resources, Superintendent Joe Graves told the Mitchell school board during its regular Monday meeting at the Mitchell Technical Institute’s Capital Street campus.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
New federal rules for child Internet safety make “technologically impossible” demands on district personnel and resources, Superintendent Joe Graves told the Mitchell school board during its regular Monday meeting at the Mitchell Technical Institute’s Capital Street campus.
Graves said the district will do what it can to accommodate the new requirements.
“But there are requirements in the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) that courts have already ruled are not permissible because of freedom of expression rules. We’re trying to thread a needle that’s closed.”
The board signed off on the first reading of a plan that will educate all students about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites, in chat rooms, and cyber-bullying awareness and response. Students in grades three to 12 must also complete an annual, grade-level-specific Internet safety course and sign off upon completing course requirements.
The district will continue filtering software, e-mail and the Internet and do random scans for inappropriate materials and unacceptable language.
Dan Muck, the district’s chief technology officer, said he’s working with middle school counselor Karen Allen to develop the new course materials.
Muck expressed concern that CIPA could also make the district responsible for inappropriate or harmful materials brought onto district property on a personal cell phone or other personal computer equipment.
Monitoring of such outside materials and technology, Muck said, “is technically not a possibility at this time.” Right now such infractions must be observed or reported before they can be dealt with, he said.
Budget round two, taxes up, mostly
In a second informational look at the budget, Business Manager Steve Culhane said the general fund reserves will be increased $216,182 for the next school year. He said the school budget is based on a student enrollment of 2,540 students, the same as for the 2011-2012 school year.
He said tax levies for the next budget year will be $2.322 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for ag properties, which is down slightly from the current $2.388. Levies for owner occupied properties, $3.965 this year, will be $4.029 next year, and commercial properties, $8.491 this year, will be bumped to $8.628 per $1,000 of assessed valuation next year.
Graves said the district has not reached an agreement with the Mitchell Education Association on a compensation agreement for the coming school year, but he remains hopeful a salary agreement will be ready in time for next month’s annual board meeting, which has tentatively been set for July 9.
The board held an executive session to discuss negotiations following the business portion of Monday’s meeting.
In other business, the board:
*Approved a resolution for the sale of $500,000 in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, for the purpose of remodeling of the MTI north campus building at 821 N. Capital St. for the new Career and Technical Education Academy, which begins operation in the fall semester.
The bonds, Graves, are no-interest loans which are purchased by private lenders seeking a tax break. Starting in 2013, the bonds will cost the district $26,315 a year until 2031.
“It’s a good deal for the district,” Graves said.
*Approved a bid of $85,000 from Darin and Collette Mesman for a shopbuilt project house constructed by MTI students. Chief Financial Officer Mike Hoffman said the family was pleased with its purchase and the price just covered MTI costs with a minimal profit.
“We were hoping for better,” he said, “but we struggled to get to $85,000 in the bidding. He said the school will investigate other selling options next year.”
*Approved one bid package for welding equipment from AirGas Inc. for $310,582 for the new MTI welding program. The cost of the equipment was paid with a grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which must also give final approval to the board-approved bid package.
Other welding bid packages were rejected because they did not meet bid specifications.
Approved, on first reading, minor revisions to K-12 board policies on fiscal management support services and facilities development, and a review of the same MTI policies.
*Approved, on first reading, revisions to board policies on community use of K-12 facilities. The changes include the district’s agreement with Pepsi, to make facility users aware that the an agreement with the soft drink company makes Mitchell a Pepsi-only campus.
*Approved the following personnel items: New hires: Kimberly Brenden, fifth grade, L. B. Williams Elementary, B.A., $33,000 a year, effective for the 2012-13 school year; Emily Grode, summer temporary help, MTI, $9 per hour, effective June 11; Jill Parsons, sixth grade science/language arts, B.A., $39,000 a year, effective for the 2012-13 school year.
New hires (extra-curricular): Erin Olson, 10th grade girls’ basketball coach; Dustin Wheeler, middle school wrestling coach/assistant — salaries to be determined, pending teacher salary negotiations.
Resignations: Lacey Bullock, food service, Mitchell Middle School, effective May 3; Tracey Endorf, special education, effective June 1; Justin Jones, precision technology specialist, MTI, effective June 15; Wayne Hjellum, computer technician, effective June 15.
Transfer: Esther Richmond, from ninth grade girls’ basketball coach to head eighth grade girls’ basketball coach, salary to be determined.
MTI summer adjunct instructors: Paula Freeman, Rad 132, $450; Anne Moke, simulations, Rad Tech, $1,300; Eric Schaffer, Rad 131, $450 and Rad 133, $900; Scott Fossum Math 104, $1,530; Julie Gross, Eng. 21, $1,530.
Change of duties: Darin Maltsberger, to department head, farm power department 48 500