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COLUMBUS - Beginning next school year, Lakeview High School students will receive academic credit for extracurricular activities.

The district's board of education approved a proposal Monday night that awards elective credits for 12 activities, including athletics, one-act plays and speech.

"This would be something that Lakeview is taking the lead on and breaking some new ground in the state," said board member Mary Ann Schreiber.

While some Nebraska schools currently offer physical education credits for participation in sports, Lakeview Junior/Senior High School Principal Steve Borer wasn't aware of any districts that award elective credits for extracurricular activities.

The decision to do so at Lakeview is two-fold.

Last year, the school board increased the graduation requirement from 230 to 240 credits, of which 75 must come from elective courses. This change begins with the current freshman class.

However, according to Superintendent Russ Freeman, concerns arose as to whether students who are heavily involved in extracurricular activities could meet this new obligation.

The change is also expected to increase participation in those activities, which can lead to a stronger connection between the student and school.

While not all extracurricular activities are directly related to academics, Schreiber believes they still help students develop life skills such as discipline, teamwork and time management.

"I think those are good skills that students learn from participating in these activities," she said.

Approved activities will initially be limited to those recognized by the School Activities Association.

At Lakeview, one credit each will be awarded for any sport - basketball, golf, wrestling, track, soccer, softball, volleyball, football and cross country - while one-act plays and speech warrant two credits. No more than four elective credits per student can be obtained through extracurricular activities during any given school year.

Under the change, credit is only awarded to students who complete a full season of the activity. However, Borer said exceptions would be made in certain instances, such as if an athlete is injured.

Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Jake Shadley likened the scenario to that required for students to letter in a sport, meaning credit would be given if they continue to participate in other capacities.

Borer said the district would be open to the idea of considering other extracurricular activities for credit, if participation can be regularly tracked through a coach or sponsor.

In other business, the board:

n Approved a facilities improvement plan that includes $400,000 in total purchases for the district's three schools using money from the depreciation fund.

Monday, the board specifically approved bids for a new carpet cleaner ($6,422 to AMSAN), sawdust collection system ($15,951 to Eller Heating), painting in the junior/senior high school's west gymnasium ($4,080 to Schreiber Brothers) and sealing cracks in three parking lots at the junior/senior high school ($11,249 to Topkote Inc.).

Other purchases totaling an estimated $168,000 were referred to the district's Building and Grounds Committee. These include an industrial lawnmower, roof and window replacement at the junior/senior high school's east gymnasium and tuckpointing of the east gymnasium.

Additional projects included in the plan are carpet and furniture replacement at both elementary schools, concrete repair, upgrading plumbing fixtures, a suspended ceiling and lighting at Platte Center Elementary and $50,000 for technology improvements.

Board member Jerry Korte voted against the improvement plan.

• Authorized contracts for Cynthia Stogdill and Chad Kula beginning next school year.

Stogdill, who is currently the media specialist and a paraeducator at Beemer Elementary School, was hired as media specialist for Lakeview Schools.

Kula will teach high school science, including chemistry, physics and research and technologies, which also involves sponsoring the Power Drive program. He student taught science at Lakeview High School in the fall of 2008 while receiving his bachelor's degree from Wayne State College, and is currently working on his Master of Science degree in education from the school.

• Set the 2011-12 calendar. The first day of classes will be Aug. 23 with winter break running from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3. The last day of classes for K-8 students is scheduled for May 16 with high school students finishing the next day.

• Sold a 1991 Chevrolet work van to Dave Green for $736.85.

• Agreed to begin advertising for a full-time principal at Platte Center Elementary for next school year. Current Principal Pat Meyer is accepting early retirement effective at the end of this school year.

According to Freeman, only one application was received for the position when advertised as part-time, which is what the position may become if enrollment numbers drop at Platte Center after Shell Creek Elementary is expanded.

• Approved a procedure for independent education evaluations.

• Heard reports from Freeman, Meyer and Shell Creek Elementary Principal John Mlinar.

Freeman told the board $4,000 was spent to purchase Diamond Pro dirt for the infield at the baseball/softball field. Hopes are that the new surface limits the number of future rainouts.

Meyer reported that there are 22 potential kindergarten students for next school year at Platte Center Elementary, with 17 currently planning to attend.

At Shell Creek Elementary, Mlinar said there are 33 potential kindergarteners. Sixteen are presently planning to attend at Shell Creek while six are going to private schools.

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