D29 board considers celebrations, new band uniforms and technology

The November meeting of the Williston District 29 School Board opened with celebration followed by updates from various departments.
Coaches of fall sports recognized their teams for hard work and accomplishments this season. Volleyball, tennis, cross country, cheerleading and band were all recognized. Football will be recognized at a later date.
"We had a great run in fall sports," said athletic director Derek Youngblood. "We've had great support this year."
"It's an honor to see our players play," said interim superintendent Dr. Carol Lenderman.
Band Uniforms
Speaking during the citizen's participation portion of the meeting, Ronnie Brown, the president of the band booster club, requested the board's help in funding new uniforms.
"They're in pretty bad shape," Brown said of how the band's 11-year-old uniforms have seams coming undone and mold growing in some of the hats. He said the typical life span is seven to 10 years.
Since taking over the booster club, Brown, a 1972 graduate of Williston-Elko High and former band member, said they have been able to make improvements, such as replacing old shoes and renovating the concession stand.
However, they need help with replacing the uniforms, which are estimated to cost $425 each. They need around 80, he said, which would cost approximately $34,000. The club has $4,000 to help fund uniforms.
Brown said uniforms factor into the band's scores at competitions. "Those kids work hard," he said. "(Band director Ronald) Johnson has got them going in the right direction."
Finance
While the board didn't take any action on Brown's request, Charles Everhart, the director of finance, said there could be some money available to help the band. The district will start working on next year's budget soon.
Before the budget preparation begins, Everhart said they should have the final report from MB Kahn Construction Company, the firm the district hired to conduct a facility study. The firm intends to involve the three principals and maintenance supervisor in the study as they look at the district's facility needs. "The timing of their report will fit in nicely in preparing the 2015/2016 budget," he said.
Everhart also discussed how the district is not receiving as high a millage rate as they thought to retire newly issued 8 percent bond totaling $256,000. While they thought the rate would be around 23 mills, the county auditor told them the rate will be set at 22 mills. "Currently we have sufficient debt service reserves to pay for the remaining bonds from last year and any surplus will then be used against the current 8 percent bonds," said Everhart.
Instructional Services
Lenderman, who is also the district's director of assessment, accountability and instruction, updated the board on changes in state assessments.
While some tests are already set for the spring of 2015, Lenderman said there are others that are tentative, such as the ACT Aspire. The test is the state's choice to replace the Smarter Balanced test that was previously adopted to go with the Common Core standards.
If ACT Aspire is used it would be a timed test given to students in third through eighth grades over a three-day period. "They're not used to taking timed tests," said Lenderman of how the district, principals and teachers would have to work together to prepare students.
Technology
Following a presentation from Don Wical, the director of technology, the board adopted a revised three year technology plan that would last until 2018.
Wical said the plan used to be five years, but technology and the district's needs can change so much in that time, which is why they reduced the plan to three years. The technology committee also updated the plan to reflect improvements the district has made and set goals to continue such improvements.
Using e-rates and other sources, the district was able to buy four new file servers, 28 new switches, six battery backups and a new network. "We did this without general fund money," Wical said.
They also are working to replace the district's aging computer infrastructure. They replaced 120 computers last year, though the plan calls for about 80 a year. "We can't stop," said Wical. "We can't let our equipment get old like we did in the past."
The plan lays out how they will continue improvements, including installing new wireless access points at the district office, adding new computer carts and stations for high school teachers, and installing new tablet devices for teachers.
In other business, the board:
•Unanimously accepted the resignation of two teachers, Brenda Raulston and Donna Bryan.
Though Raulston isn't leaving until the end of the year, the special education teacher at Williston-Elko High School tendered her resignation now because special education teachers are hard to find, according to Lenderman. Raulston will be moving to Florida to be closer to family.
Bryan, an eighth grade English language arts teacher, also submitted her resignation because she's moving to Anderson after Thanksgiving. The board hired Keely McDonald to fill the position starting in January pending her graduation and certification.
Lenderman also told the board that Susan Eichman is taking Tina Craig's spot as the nurse of the middle and high schools. Craig is moving to Kelly Edwards Elementary in January once Linda Starnes retires. The board did not vote on Eichman's hiring because the position isn't certified like teachers and administrators are.
•Approved two petitions for high school diplomas from students who did not receive it because they did not pass the HSAP - high school exit exam. HSAP was eliminated by state lawmakers earlier this year and students were allowed to petition their local school board for a diploma if they didn't receive one solely due to not passing HSAP.
•Approved six field trips requests, including three for the band, two for the speech and debate team, and one for the Junior Beta Club.