Buffalo Board of Education receives formal certification for completed structural enhancements

by Callie Jones, Journal-Advocate staff writer

MERINO — During a Buffalo RE-4J Board of Education meeting on Monday the district received formal certification that The Neenan Company had completed all structural enhancements developed by a third-party engineering firm.

Neenan came under scrutiny after a 1-year-old Meeker school was forced to shut down because of safety concerns. Questions about several other schools designed and built by Neenan came up over the next several months following the Meeker school incident.

The company handled Merino’s elementary school project, as well as renovations to the high school.

A review on the elementary found several improvements were needed.

Neenan took full responsibility for the structural enhancements and the school district did not incur any costs resulting from original structural design errors. Randy Myers, President of Neenan, attended the meeting to thank the school district for their time and patience during the summer work.

“We are very pleased with the work that was completed over the summer,” said Superintendent Robert Sanders. “We did lose a little bit of space in a few rooms but Neenan did the best they could to minimize the impact to the classroom. We are happy that our buildings are now up to code.”

In other business, Sanders discussed progress on the elementary playground, saying, “it’s coming along great.”

They decided to add fill dirt, grade it and reseed it. The seeding should be done this weekend.

Additionally, the board approved Nathan Schmidt as volunteer football coach and Joe Schmidt as volunteer volleyball coach.

They also approved out of district students as presented.

The first day of inservice was discussed. One of the board’s goals is to make teachers aware of Senate Bill 191, the educator effectiveness bill. During the inservice Sanders and Kendra Anderson gave a presentation on the legislation.

Elementary principal Ann Archuleta reported the elementary is close to capacity, there are only three openings left in sixth grade and the school will be full.

High School principal Lonnie Brungardt reported Merino High School had the highest scores on the ACT in the last 10 years. He complimented the students and staff for their hard work.

Terri Curtis presented information on the preschool from last year to the board. She talked about how the elementary and preschool worked together to help students transition into the elementary building.

Curtis also talked about the recent Qualistar rating they received, three out of four stars. They were only four points away from getting four stars.

In other business the board approved policy revisions as presented.

Minor revisions required by law were made to policies: AD, regarding school district mission; ADC, regarding tobacco free schools; JB, regarding equal educational opportunities; HF, regarding admission and denial of admission; JH, regarding student absences and excuses; JHB, regarding truancy; JIC, regarding student conduct; JICA, regarding student dress code; JICDA, regarding code of conduct; JICDE, regarding bullying and aggressive behavior; JICF, regarding secret societies/gang activities; JIH, regarding student interrogations, search and arrests; JK, regarding student discipline; JK-R, student discipline regulation; JKA, regarding use of physical intervention and restraint; JKBA, regarding disciplinary removal from classroom; JKD/JKE and JKD/JKE-R, regarding suspension/expulsion of students; and JKG, regarding expulsion of students.

Other revisions made that were required by law included adding information about creating a safe school plan in policy ADD, regarding safe schools and removing parental notification out of policy GBEB, regarding staff conduct and responsibility.

Information regarding the process for informing a parent of why their child was not accepted, was added to policy JFBB-R, regarding inter district choice/open enrollment.

Mandatory expulsion for sale or distribution of a controlled substance was removed from policy JICH, regarding drug and alcohol use by students.

Policy JICI, regarding weapons in school, was changed from zero tolerance to students possibly being expelled based on circumstances.

In policy JLDAC, regarding screening/testing of students and treatment of mental disorders, revisions were made to the process and in policy LBD-R, regarding relations with district charter schools, information was added about procedure for establishment, review, renewal, revocation and closure.

Policies with minor revisions that are not required by law include: AE, regarding accountability/commitment to accomplishment; JF-E, admission and denial of admission exhibit; JICC, regarding student conduct in vehicles; JICDD, regarding violent and aggressive behavior; JICH-R, regarding drug and alcohol use by students; JIHB, regarding parking lot searches; JKBA-R, regarding disciplinary removal from classroom; JKD/JKE-E, regarding grounds for suspension/expulsion; and JKF, regarding educational alternatives for expelled students.

Policies that were added included KLG, regarding relations with state agencies; GBGH, regarding sick leave bank; and IHBG, regarding homeschool, the process for allowing home school students to participate in sports, as well the process for registering home school students in the district.

Several policies were not recommended for approval, including ADD-E, regarding safe schools; GCS, regarding professional research and publishing; LBD-E, regarding intent to apply to become a district charter school; and LC, regarding relations with education research agencies.