Student Activity Out Of State Travel Discussed By Lexington School Board

Requests for out of state travel proved troublesome to the Lexington Board of Education Monday night because there is no policy in place regarding funding when students qualify to compete in national events.
Senior Blake Casper qualified for a SkillsUSA national competition in Louisville, Kentucky by winning the Nebraska Skills USA competition in automotive; sophomore Danielle Rivera qualified for a National History Day competition in Maryland after winning a similar state event with a historical paper and Julia Briones,sophomore, Adrian Gomez, junior, and John Mark Shields, senior, qualified for a National Debate and Speech Association Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah.
All three student groups petitioned the board to be able to travel out of state to attend their respective competitions with their teacher sponsors.  The travel dates requested were June 20-25, June 11-16 and June 11-18 respectively.
Superintendent John Hakonson said the student achievements were a positive reflection on the district, but the board needed to provide guidance regarding the extent to which the district would provide financial support for students and sponsors at national level activities.
He said board policy stipulates that the board must approve all out of state travel requests, but there is no policy in place regarding funding of such trips. 
"The problem is you might open up Pandora's box, and who is going to come to you for money," said board member Travis Maloley.  "How do you tell one kid yes or no?"  He expressed a desire for the district develop a policy for the future.
"I just don't think we've ever funded a national event," said board president Rod Reynolds.  "On this short of notice I don't think we should start a precedence.  If you open this box . . . I don't know where you draw the line."
Roger Reutlinger said with the small window between the qualifying events and the national events, there isn't much time for the students to do independent fundraising.
Mike Dowling asked if the students were representing Lexington at the events they were attending and was told yes.
It was noted that the entry in the National History Day competition was a sophomore class requirement.
A motion to fund each request at a rate of $500 per student and $500 per sponsor, with a limit of two sponsors per activity, failed with only Larry Steinberger and Roger Reutlinger voting in favor of it. 
A subsequent motion to provide use of a school vehicle or pay airfare up to $500 for a student and $500 for the sponsor for National History Day, and the use of a school vehicle for travel to the other events passed unanimously. Implied with the motion was for the district to cover the cost of fuel.
Erin Heineman said travel money would come from the activity fund.
The Minuteman Fine Arts Association has agreed to pay the $450 admission fee for the qualifying speech students.
Speech coach Luis Sotelo said the speech team may need to set up its own account to prepare for funding future events .  He said money the team raises now through concessions goes into a school activity account where it is used to benefit the entire team, but not individuals.
Hakonson said there have been some fundraising attempts but it is unclear how much private support will be available.  He said he inquired with the Lexington Community Foundation and they likewise said they can help fund groups but not individuals. 
In other business the board voted to enter a 60-month lease with Eakes Office Solutions in Kearney for photocopiers at a cost of $14,150 per month.  The agreement includes a buyout for the remaining year of a contract with Xerox.  Hakonson said the district will still be saving about $850 a month.  The machines from Eakes come with a tracking system to determine how many copiesare made by specific employees and whether they are in color or black and white, which could further add to savings.
The district hopes to have better customer service and fewer copier issues with Eakes, said Hakonson.   Technology director Kristi Jergensen said 141 schools across the state work with Eakes.
Board members approved the low bid of $54,246 from Jim Phillips Construction in Lexington to pave the northwest corner of property at Lexington Middle School.  Hakonson said the district must either pave the area or maintain it as greenspace.  At one time the plan was to place crushed rock at the site, said Hakonson, but that is no longer an option because of a change in city ordinance.
The board approved a $134,850 lease with Apple for 150 MacBook Pros to be used with preschool and elementary students.  Jergensen said this new lease is consistent with a master plan to keep the total annual lease payments under $450,000 because payments will be at $431,063.
The board approved $6,500 in set up costs and an annual subscription of $14,150 with VeriTime for time and attendance monitoring software.
The board approved a bid of $74,546 from GovConnection for the purchase of wireless access points and switches.  The expense was budgeted and should be reimbursed at 70 percent through E-rate.

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