School Board

Newcomers to the board Kelly Terrell and Kyle Fornoff take the oath to serve the district on the school board at the Jan. 11 meeting.

The Gothenburg Public Schools Board of Education swore in a new member at the Jan. 11 meeting, and elected officers for 2021. Kelly Terrell was elected to the board in November, filling the seat vacated by Jeremy Sitorius who opted to not run for re-election.

The officers for the Gothenburg school board for this year are: Nate Wyatt - president; Becky Jobman - vice president and Kyle Fornoff - secretary. Kay Streeter was reappointed as secretary to the board, and Randy Waskowiak of First State Bank will continue in the role as board treasurer.

Once those formalities were completed the board got down to business, with the first item being the approval of resignation requests of two district staff members. Dee Weaver has been teaching at GPS for 23 years, and is currently teaching family and consumer science. Her resignation is effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Also resigning is maintenance and facilities director Jay Holmes. Jay has served the district for 37 years and will be leaving his position effective April 1.

In one other personnel issue, the board approved a contract for former GPS teacher Roger Koehler to serve the district as a full-time substitute/replacement teacher. Superintendent Dr. Todd Rhodes reminded the board that they have had several discussions regarding the shortage of substitute teachers and he suggested this as a viable solution for this second semester. The board will revisit the issue at the end of the school year to determine whether to extend the contract.

During his report to the board Dr. Rhodes discussed a potential timeline for Covid vaccinations for staff members, and anticipates the district may be seeing that happen in about four to six weeks. He said he does not expect to see the risk dial for the district change before the end of the school year - even once vaccinations have been given.

“Masks and distancing are expected to remain in place for the remainder of the school year, mainly because it works,” said Dr. Rhodes.

He also shared an update on the CARES stimulus funds with GPS projected to receive $371,000 in this round. The district received about $99,000 during the first round of CARES fund disbursement, the majority of which was spent on replacing Chromebooks and student devices.

“We don’t know for sure yet what kind of stings are going to be attached to this CARES 2 money - we don’t know what we are going to have to spend it on to qualify for the reimbursement,” said Dr. Rhodes. “That’s a nice large number, but it does have to be factored into the budget authority. We have not been told if that will carry over to the 2021-22 school year.”

Rhodes also gave an update on the strategic planning session which took place Jan. 8 and 9. The planning meetings involved 25 people made up of school staff and community members. “In two days a group of 25 people that have great interest in the youth in this community and our community as a whole, were able to draft, edit a mission statement, come up with core beliefs, develop parameters around the structure of GPS and come up with some pretty large scale objectives,” said Rhodes.

The next step in that process is to recruit individuals from around the community to become part of the six designated action teams. Those teams will then present their information on May 25. “By the time we get done with that day on May 25, we will have a strategic plan to bring in front of the board for approval most likely in June or July. What that plan is going to do is guide us and create vision for the next five years in this school district,” Rhodes explained.

The school board’s facilities and transportation committee met with Ryan Stearns from Hewgley and Associates on Jan. 5 to discuss plans for the renovation of Dudley Elementary. We will have an in-depth look at this project in the Jan. 21 issue of the Leader.

The meeting concluded with the board adjourning into closed session to discuss a personnel issue. No action was taken following the closed session. The next meeting of the board will be Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. All meetings are held in the Discovery Center and are open to the public.

Contact Ellen Mortensen at ellen@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.537.9498