Colo-Nesco moving to late-start Mondays next school year

Brett Van WausContributing Writer

The Colo-Nesco board of education approved a schedule change for the 2016-2017 school year, where students will begin classes around two hours later each Monday.

According to the superintendent, Dr. Jim Verlengia, the two “drivers” in this decision were Colo-Nesco teachers’ professional development and a greater variety of course opportunities for the district’s students.

Moving educators’ professional development from Wednesday afternoon to Monday morning will allow teachers from both the Colo-Nesco and Nevada districts to attend sessions geared to experimenting with new or improved strategies in the classroom. An additional benefit for both teachers and students involved in extracurricular activities will be that no practices or rehearsals will need to take place without all their participants.

The move for Colo-Nesco’s schedule to be more in sync with Nevada’s also comes with additional benefits for high school students wishing to take courses that are not offered in Colo. Board President Joel Niemeyer told the board he has received interest from students who would like to take courses offered at Nevada High School, ranging from Introduction to Business to AP Psychology to Introduction to Engineering.

Tentative plans are for the district to hire an associate at each school building to supervise any students who come to school before classes begin. Transportation is still slated to be provided from each of the district’s three communities to the elementary building in Zearing and the five-12 building in Colo. The Colo-Nesco Early Learning Center will also be available during this time, though it may be operating under a different name this fall.

Plans appear to be moving forward for the Bethany Lutheran Church in McCallsburg to assume operations of the Colo-Nesco Early Learning Center. Board member John Fuller informed the board that the church’s council approved a measure to assume control. Though there is no clear timeline at this point for when the takeover will occur, Fuller said the church is optimistic that it will have details worked out this summer.

In other news, Verlengia distributed a pie chart that showed how the district would be curtailing expenses by over $288,000 during next academic year, in part because of their agreement to share superintendent Dr. Steve Gray, as well as the transportation director and curriculum director, with the Nevada district. Verlengia and Secretary/Treasurer Lisa Waddell concluded after devising next year’s budget that Colo-Nesco’s financial health is the best it’s been since 2009.

According to the chart, sharing these positions with Nevada will save the district $111,000 as compared to last academic year, while personnel modifications, such as early retirement, will save taxpayers $107,000. Revenue from other sources, such as selling outdated computers, also netted the district around $70,000 in savings as opposed to last year.