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NR-S school board moves to add value to lunch room


October 21, 2019

Even young Rockets need a break. NR-S students enjoyed a special afternoon snack on Monday, Oct. 14, courtesy of the lunchroom staff.

The NR-S school board made a motion during their meeting on Monday, Oct. 14 to adjust salaries for and hire three new members to the food service staff. Superintendent Jill Louters cited this step as "a way to value those who feed and keep our children healthy."

The additions will round out the kitchen staff to a total of four. Current staff member Tara Thumb intends to stay right where she is, serving food to the students on a daily basis. The three incoming staff will include Jennifer Krueger (currently at Mick's 281) as the head cook, Nevada Thumb (currently at Oberon School District), and NR-S paraprofessional Sheila Brown who wants to transition into the kitchen. These faces will be a regular addition to the lunchroom as early as next week.

Superintendent Louters sees this new staff as an opportunity to create a positive place to be with higher quality food. "We have to win back our students," says Louters, noting that on average the school is serving 241 meals daily. While she recognizes that serving fewer meals may be an unintended consequence of having an open campus, Louters is confident that by adding value to the lunchroom, the school can attract more students to eat on campus.

Going several weeks without dedicated staff offered several opportunities for experiment. The temporary helpers not only created winning lunch fare, but they encouraged a fun environment. Louters reported that Tubby Bymoen and Nathan Olds have been incredibly helpful in that. After the heavy snow storm made for a long weekend in early October, Sheila Brown had a clever idea to serve hot chocolate and beignets (a French pastry pronounced ben-yeis) the following Monday to celebrate the first snowfall.

Principal's Report

Secondary principal Avolt Baumbach informed the board high school juniors will be taking the ACT Test in place of the North Dakota State Assessment (NDSA). Under the approved North Dakota Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) districts are allowed to administer the ACT (Grade 11) in lieu of the grade 10 NDSA for English Arts/Literacy and Math.

Blue Ribbon Award

NR-S Elementary was one of two districts in North Dakota to be recognized nationally as a Blue Ribbon School. An in-house celebration is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. Officials from across the state will be invited, and the school board plans to serve ice cream and all the toppings.

Jamie Risovi was the staff member selected to attend the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. He will accompany Superintendent Louters and Elementary Principal Natalie Becker. Total cost for transportation and lodging is expected to be between $3,000 and $3,600. The board approved the out of state travel costs.

Grading Committee

Board member David Holzwarth reported on the grading committee, which has met three times in the past month. The committee's goal is to review the articulated policies related to grading, and recommend any changes they see pertinent. Thus far, the committee has discussed a range of topics, including pros and cons of both the 4.0 and 5.0 grading scale, the influence of dual credit courses, the importance of class ranking and criteria for college admissions. While the committee has gained some consensus, there is still work ahead.

Board member John Grann expressed concern regarding the implementation of retroactive changes to the policy. "It's like changing the rules halfway through the game," added board president Alyson Myhre. Superintendent Louters reminded the board that the committee's role is to bring recommendations to the board, and the board has the authority to authorize any changes. She also added that the North Dakota School Board Association did not take a position on this topic and instead suggested that any changes to the policy are up to the school administration.

Policy Revisions

The school board had two policy revisions to review as a first reading. Both policies are required by the North Dakota School Board Association, and needed revisions to the language per the association's lawyer.

Policy DEAA: Drug & Alcohol Free Workplace prohibits employees from the use, manufacture, possession, distribution, or dispensing of drugs or alcohol while on school property. The revision brings clarity about possession in a drug and alcohol free environment and articulates the responsibilities of district and individual.

Policy ABCE: Prohibition on Aiding Sexual Abuse prohibits any employee, contractor or agent from assisting in sexual misconduct, including but not limited to insults, disparaging remarks, or harassment. The revision provides further details on the specific scenarios of violation or retaliation.  

The next regular board meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov 12 at 7 a.m.


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