January 17, 2019



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Plan to coordinate school curriculum proposed

Truck crashes in creek

Nelson coach earns honor

Superior council elects president



The Cyber Express-Record

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The Superior Express & Jewell County Record 17 January 2019


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Plan proposed to coordinate school curriculum

Rhonda Renfro, president of Curriculum Leadership Institute, presented an overview of AQuESTT, Monday evening, at Superior Board of Education monthly meeting. Curriculum Leadership Institute is a nonprofit organization of curriculum specialists who have developed AQuESST, a model for school district reform and restructure. They work with school districts of all sizes and provide extended on-site services as well as training sessions.

The Curriculum Leadership Institute has worked with large schools in the Chicago area in districts where class size averaged 3,000 students. They have also worked in small schools in Wyoming and New Mexico. In Nebraska they have worked extensively with educational service units, particularly units 8 and 10. They have also worked in Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, California, Montana and Kansas.

Supt. Kobza has worked with the organization in several school districts which were failing when the Curriculum Leadership Institute came to help. He shared examples from Valley Falls, Kan., Fort Riley, Kan., and Wyoming. In all three districts, schools deemed failures made measurable leaps of progress toward excellence within a three to five year period.

"Standards will be taught and will be learned," Supt. Kobza said. "All students are going to get there."

Renfro repeatedly said, "It is lots of work. You must go slow so you do not burn out your best teachers."

"I am passionate about this." Renfro said. "I have seen it work. Some teachers will be frustrated, but if they hang in there, it makes teaching easier."

AQuESTT is a long-term plan which provides governance and structure to align curriculum and to access the results for continual revision.

Renfro projected it would take three to five years for the district to complete the task outlined by AQuESTT for the core subjects.

A representative from the Curriculum Leadership Institute will present an overview of AQuESTT to the faculty in January.

After her near 40 minute presentation, Supt. Kobza asked members of the board of education if they had any objections to the district working with the Curriculum Leadership Institute. According to school board policy, curriculum development responsibilities are assigned to the school superintendent and he does not need approval from members of the school board.

Lacey Langer, a high school student, presented the student ambassadors report.

Jamy Sullivan and Jason Jensen, both members of the board, were absent. Peggy Meyer, Matt Sullivan, Matt Bargen and Brad Biltoft were present. They approved expenditures of $566,814 from the general fund for November claims.

They also approved offering Taylor Ruzicka an elementary teaching contract. She will begin second semester. Ruzicka has two years of teaching experience.

Board members also accepted the 2017-18 audit and the 2019-2020 negotiated agreement. The agreement raised the base salary $450 to $35,350 for beginning teachers. The agreement also added safety committee language, added pay for summer curriculum work and raised the Blue Cross-Blue Shield deductible from $900 to $1,050.

During discussion, Supt. Kobza reviewed a crisis plan. The multi-page plan provides a detailed outline of what is to be done and who is to do it in various crisis situations. For example, it addresses abduction, accidents with severe injuries, blood born pathogen and handling body fluids, bomb threats, off campus deaths and deaths at school from natural causes, homicide and suicide; deaths of student family members, weather related campus closings, campus evacuations for hazardous materials both outside and inside the school, hostage situations, severe weather including earthquakes and chill factor, suicide threats and attempts, terrorism, violence between groups, violent out-of-control students, violent assault of a student on campus, weapons, drugs and alcohol on campus.

Each classroom will be equipped with first aid kits and flip charts, so even substitute teachers will know what they are to do.

Both Doug Hoins, elementary principal, and Bob Cook, junior-senior high principal reported. Both had attended a the state principals conference. Hoins was recognized at the state level for his 25 years of service as an administrator.

The new weight room dedication was repeatedly mentioned. Members of the public were awed by the facility. Still to come are electronic capabilities which will provide a digital record book, screen filming cap and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Supt. Kobza reported the track will not be painted until the weather is at least 50 degrees F. A backup painter is on standby if needed, so the work can be completed before track season.

Matt Sullivan, president of the board, asked if the district should consider forming a middle school instead of a having junior high. Student presentations he had attended featured nearly all middle school students. Supt. Kobza confirmed that a middle school concept offered students opportunities to explore interest areas in different manner than generally available with the grade school, junior high model.

Supt. Kobza also reported a grant is being written with the hopes of securing money to staff an after school learning center for kindergarten through sixth grade students. It would provide a safe place for elementary students to stay from after school until 6 p.m. If the grant is received, the program could start as early as April.

Supt. Kobza reported the district is exploring Telehealth opportunities with Brodstone Memorial Hospital (BMH) to access mental health services for students. Logan Christancy is serving as the school's technical expert. He also is employed by BMH.

The board entered into an executive session to evaluate the superintendent, something the board is required to do annually.

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Truck Crashes Into Creek

At approximately 1:15 a.m. Saturday the Nuckolls County Sheriff's Department received an emergency call reporting two teenagers had been in automobile accident but were unsure of their location.

Fortunately, one of the teenagers had been able to locate a cell phone and was able to communicate with emergency personnel searching for the vehicle which was not visible from the road.

After about 15 minutes of searching, the vehicle was located off the road in a creek east of Superior near the junction of Highway 8 and Road 3700.

The vehicle was about 100 feet away from the bridge.

Members of the Superior Rescue Squad were able to remove the victims who were later transferred to a Lincoln hospital.

At press time The Express had not been able to obtain an accident report or any information on the extent of the injuries.

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Nelson coach receives honor

Brian Blevins, head football coach at Lawrence-Nelson High School has been named the Berens Coaching Award winner for Class D-2 after leading his team to the state playoff semi-finals. The following article submitted by the school was written by Bob Jensen of HuskerLand Prep:

It was, in the words of Coach Brian Blevins, a long ride home.

His Lawrence-Nelson team had just been shelled by Kenesaw, 60-12, and was looking a record of 2-3 straight in the eye. Not much was going right for the Raiders, not right about then anyway.

From that point forward though Lawrence-Nelson got on a serious roll, winning six straight games to advance to the Class D-2 state semi-finals. All that winning, and righting the ship, helps make Blevins our Class D-2 Berens Coaching Award winner.

"Following that Kenesaw loss was the turning point to our season," said Blevins. "We had just gotten whooped, we were sitting at 2-3, we had multiple injuries, our moral was low, and our confidence was shaken. It would have been so easy for our boys to cash it in, to accept our season for what it was but they didn't.

"That following Monday we didn't even practice, we just met as a team and talked, and that talk became the turning point of our season. The character, resiliency and culture of our athletes, in my opinion, is what makes us successful. They identified what they wanted, embraced their current adversity, and came together as a team more than any I had coached previously. As you said in a previous article, "Raider Football is Special."

(Writers just love it when their work is quoted back to them. Thanks Coach Blevins...)

As only the No. 11 seed in the west bracket, the Raiders upset No. 6 Wauneta-Palisade, 38-8, before scoring an impressive comeback, 33-30 win over Clearwater-Orchard. The following week the Raiders proved they had worked their way back from the darkness, avenging that earlier loss to Kenesaw, 28-12. Lawrence-Nelson lost a hard-fought 36-24 decision at unbeaten Mullen in the semifinals to finish 8-4.

"There was a lot of excitement and anticipation surrounded our program heading into this season. Although qualifying for the (2017) quarter-finals was a great accomplishment, it really left our boys wanting more and motivated for the season to start," said Coach Blevins. "We knew that our grueling schedule and lack of numbers were going to make achieving our goals a daunting task. During the summer and into pre-season we constantly preached 'leave each day better then it begun.' That mantra carried into the season and I believe we became a better team after every game we played."

All the winning, especially the post-season winning when his team turned Class D-2 football on its ear, was a lot of fun but not the only fun, nor satisfaction, Coach Blevins draws from the game.

"When I was just beginning my coaching career, my dad once told me you can't base all your success off wins and losses. It's about the little things, the memories along the way. In taking this advice I have been blessed with such many great successes. We have been fortunate this year, and in years prior, to win a lot of games but all the great memories and opportunities I got to share in with our team this year far outweigh final scores.

"Each year, each season, is a journey and this year's was a great one."

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Superior Council elects president

Superior voters may have voted to give the mayor and council members another term but the community has a new council president.

After the former council met for the last time and adjourned sine die, the relected mayor and council members were sworn in and a new council president elected.

As council president, Chris Peterson will lead the community in the absence of the mayor.

The council affirmed the mayor reappointment of all appointed city officials with no change from the previous years.

As expected following the last council, the city did select a new firm to serve as the city engineer and street superintendent. The council formalized the selection of David Ziska, an employee of Olsson's Associates as street superintendent and the Olsson firm to serve as the city's engineer.

If the weather continues to hold for the balance of the week, it was reported the downtown improvement project will be near the wrapping up stage by the end of the week. This week the work has been focused on the east side of Central Avenue between Second and Third Streets. Left to do is some work around the Crest Theatre.

The policy related to the replacement of natural gas lines serving what appear to be abandoned properties was expanded to include all city utilities. Under that policy when service lines are being replaced the city will not automatically replace exisiting lines if it appears they likely will not be used in the future. Should the property be rehabilitated and returned to use at a future time, the city will replace the lines at no charge.