It's been a difficult few days at Mitchell Middle School, Superintendent Joe Graves said at the Board of Education's meeting on Monday.

The middle school property was struck by lightning during Friday's storm, destroying between $60,000 and $65,000 worth of technology, Graves said.

The damage affected door security systems, phone systems and servers. Graves said that the school is currently operating on surplus equipment and is working with its insurance company to cover what was lost. Doors are being locked pending repairs.

"Our technicians worked basically the entire day Saturday to make sure we were able to get everything back up and running at a certain level so that we'd have school Monday," Graves said.

But while the issues caused by the lightning were generally solved, more problems arose at the middle school Monday when a water main broke. Graves said during the board meeting that the line will be patched by the time school begins Tuesday, but that the whole line will likely need to be replaced.

"We believe it occurred because of shifting ground because of the very bitterly cold winter," he said.

MTI hopes to vie again for Aspen Prize

Mitchell Technical Institute President Mark Wilson gave the board a report on the school's progress in the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence competition.

It was announced last week that two schools in Florida were awarded the prize, although MTI was one of the top-10 finalists chosen from the more than 1,100 two-year colleges in the country.

"We were overwhelmed with the whole process. It's a great opportunity," Wilson said. "They really look at completion, labor market, learning and equity when they look at the main areas. What's great is, we also will go after it again come October."

The prize is awarded every two years, and a total of $1 million is split between selected schools. This year, each of the two winning Florida colleges received $350,000, while three "Rising Star" schools were given $100,000 each.

"We're just excited about the positive growth that we've made," Wilson said. " ... Hopefully we are a part of this again next year."

Consent agenda, personnel

• New certified hire: Nick McGraw, vocal music instructor, show choir and co-musical director at Mitchell High School.

• Resignation: Katie Buschbach, paraeducator at Mitchell High School.

Other business

In other actions, the board:

• Recognized food service program director Leann Carmody for the program's work with LifeQuest and recent receipt of the Outstanding Employer Recognition Award from the Mitchell Advisory Council for People with Disabilities. Carmody said those involved in the program, which operates in four of the district's school buildings, work for three to four hours each day.

• Approved a resolution authorizing membership in the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

• Approved the first reading of proposed changes to the district's tobacco-free policy, which would add specific language banning vaping devices and e-cigarettes and would explicitly make the district's ADAPT Team responsible for enforcing the policy.