School board trio holds Town Hall Q&A

The historic Minden Elementary School serves as offices for the Douglas County School District.

The historic Minden Elementary School serves as offices for the Douglas County School District.

More than 200 community members filed into the Douglas County Community and Senior Center Monday for a Q&A hosted by Trustees of the Douglas County School Board.

School Board President Susan Jansen, Vice President Doug Englekirk, Trustee David Burns and legal counsel Joey Gilbert answered submitted questions from the audience.

Many of the questions focused around Gilbert’s bills, why are the bylaws being changed, is Superintendent Keith Lewis being pushed out and why?

“There’s been so much misconception and we want the community to know the truth about what’s going on with the school district,” said Jansen.

Gilbert talked mostly on the legal bills stating that there were some misconceptions and that the monthly invoices were meant to be billed against the $7,500 monthly retainer. He said the district will receive a $15,000 credit and Kiera Sears’ rate will be lowered to $225.

Sears works for Gilbert’s firm and is often at School Board meetings and assisting in review documents, bylaws and policies.

“We’re doing what we can and I expect the bill to come down,” said Gilbert . “Of the total $76,950, approximately $8,000 have been for on boarding as new counsel, review of current matters and due diligence, $2,400 review of outside complaints regarding current and prior administrations, $15,300 on agenda review and preparation, drafting, bylaws, policies,, regulations and supporting material, $7,500 for requests made by the administrative staff, $5,200 requests for additional information by the board, $7,500 for board meetings, and pre-and-post meetings with Board members and $31,050 on open meeting law complaints, Writ of Mandamus, and Public Record Requests.”

Other questions asked what the purpose of changing the bylaws was.

“Let’s try to focus on the positive, instead of being negative,” said Jansen. “There will be no changes to classrooms and how teachers teach and communicate with families. We absolutely want teachers to be able to communicate, these bylaws are mostly for the meetings and how they’re run.”

Burns mentioned that a few of the Bylaws gave the Superintendent too much power and they were simply putting them back to what they were before 2020, Superintendent Keith Lewis, and before COVID.

“They were changed before for some reason, and we are putting them back to how they were, simple as that,” said Burns. “It wasn’t an issue before they were changed and it won’t be an issue after they are put back either.”

More questions asked about test scores and how the district ranks and the answers were based off of ACT scores and how many homeschool students versus public schools.

“Of the approximate 5,050 students 1,000 of them are homeschooled in the county. That’s one fifth of what we have in the schools. We’re looking at how we can bring kids back into public schools,” said Burns.

Overall, the board seemed eager to answer questions and address public concerns.

“I think it was very productive,” said Jansen. “We are trying to fix things for the sake of our students, families and the district.”


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