The Hastings Public Schools board of education met Thursday night to give second readings for policies, review the budget and recommend David Essink, Hastings Middle School principal, as the board secretary during its July work session.

All board members were present.

The school board discussed the second readings for nine policy changes. The policy changes were previously suggested by legal counsel due to the changes is state legislation. The majority of changes pertain to language regarding electronic nicotine devices, adjustments to the committee on American Civics, military recruitment and admission of kids that move due to family military involvement.

Jeff Schnieder, in his first board work session as superintendent of HPS, talked about curriculum regarding electronic nicotine devices, a question that was raised at last month’s board meeting.

Schnieder said he discussed electronic nicotine devices with Thomas Szlanda, Hastings High School principal. Schnieder said the high school is incorporating the education into the positive behavior intervention system, including it into the health curriculum and plans to send a newsletter to help educate parents.

“I feel like we’re heading down the right road with this, but we’ll have to continue to grow in this area, because this is a new challenge to us in education,” Schnieder said.

Schnieder said they are also working with the police department to educate staff.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with Hastings High School. This has to do with high schools across the country, having a challenge with electronic (nicotine) devices,” Schnieder said.

The board then got a brief overview of estimated financials. The final budget will be present in September.

Schnieder reported that the school has reduced expenditures by $850,000 and expects $750,000 from the levy override. Schieder said $300,000 from the cooperative fund will be used for general operations and $300,000 is saved because of attrition — staff reduction caused by employees retiring or resigning.

“I think we stopped the bleeding temporarily, which is good. I’m very concerned about ‘20–’21. We’ll keep working on that throughout the year,” Schnieder said. “I stand where I stood before. I don’t think we’re going to get help at the state level. I think we’re going to have to fight our own battles.”

The board also recommended appointing Essink as the board secretary, to be voted on Monday.

The board went into a closed session at the end of the meeting. The reason for the closed session was listed on the board minutes, citing real estate and personnel issues. Schnieder said no action was taken beyond discussion.

The board will meet at the City Council Chambers, 220 North Hastings Avenue, July 15 at 7 p.m. During the meeting, there will be an annual hearing on parental involvement reaffirmation.

“To sum it up, we would love more and more parental involvement,” Schnieder said.

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