School board talks CTE wing

Nathan Steele

The Custer School District Board of Education met Monday night in Hermosa. One topic discussed was the expansion of the Custer Jr./Sr. High School to have a new wing for Career and Technical Education (CTE).
Last month Superintendant Mark Naugle met with Architecture Inc. to start work on a preliminary design for a new CTE addition. Jeremy Altman from Architecture Inc. spoke to the board regarding their proposal. The preliminary design will include meeting with staff and stakeholders, public meetings on the project and producing the plans that can be used to determine a preliminary cost. The board approved going through with a preliminary design through Architecture Inc. at the cost of $19,355.
The addition will likely expand off the east side of the building, and Naugle stressed the need to leave room for growth when designing the addition. The current welding shop is 700 sq. ft., yet every classroom in the Hermosa school is over 900 sq. ft. said Naugle.
“We’re really cramped in there,” said Naugle.
More developments on this project will be underway in the coming months.
The board also discussed the results of a recent survey on preschool needs in Custer and Hermosa. During this time, the board also heard from Rex Jorgenson of the Custer YMCA about his concern that if the school were to begin offering preschool and childcare, those services would compete with what is being offered from preexisting licensed childcare providers.
“We depend on that 4 and 5-year-old age group to offset  what it costs us to run infant and 1- and 2- year-old programs. If we are able to work together with the school and make sure that there’s a collaboration  going on, I’m not opposed to having that age group be more serviced. I just want to be sure we’re not selling ourselves short in the program,” said Jorgenson.
“I certainly dont think our school district should compete with the YMCA for the same kids,” said Naugle. “We just want to try to be part of the solution. My goal, personally,  is to educate our kids the best we can, but now we’re also serving a second goal, which is to be a betterment to the community.”
“It helps our kids get ready for school. That’s a win,” added Naugle.
A public survey addressing preschool and childcare needs in the district was sent out via newsletter and social media and collected 59 responses in Custer and 28 in Hermosa.  Respondents in both communities expressed similar needs. Over 80 percent of people said there is inadequate access to preschool and/or childcare programs in their communities. When given the option for two-day to five-day needs, most indicated a four-day need in both Custer and Hermosa. Each community also expressed the strongest interest in half-day programs from 8-11 a.m.
The board continues to move forward on next steps with the goal of being able to provide programs in Custer and Hermosa by next school year.
In other news from the meeting, the school board:
• Heard from Matt White regarding a security issue on his daughter’s school laptop. White also expressed that he felt there were barriers to communication within the district and between the district and community.
• Acknowledged the new inductees to the Custer High School chapter of the National Honor Society. They also acknowledged the six high school students who won Superior Individual awards at the State One Act Festival earlier this month. The board also took time to recognize that National School Counselors’ Week was last week and South Dakota School Board Recognition Week is next week.
• Gave a reminder for the snow make up day this Friday, Feb. 17.
• Approved issuing administrative contracts for next year. Salaries are yet to be negotiated.
• Gave a reminder that there are three three-year terms opening on the board of education. Petitions can be picked up starting March 1 and are due March 28. The election will be June 6.
• Heard from   Naugle on the current legislative session, particularly House Bill 1234. Naugle is concerned about the bill’s impact on the district’s revenue and school funding. He says the bills would be a push to benefit private over public schools. The bill would provide a voucher for students enrolled in certain grade levels at accredited nonpublic schools.
 “It’s only going to benefit the kids that private institutions want to take. We take everybody, and we educate everybody to the best of our ability.  There’s the difference between the two,” said Naugle.


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