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Minatare gets early start on school year
August 19, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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While most schools in the community are just getting back to another school year, Minatare has been in class since Aug. 11

Minatare School Superintendent Tim Cody said the way their schedule is set up, their regular winter dismissal date would be too close to Christmas, which is on a Sunday this year. So, the district decided to start the school year a week early and dismiss for Christmas break on December 20, giving students a few more days off.

Enrollment numbers are still in flux, but Cody said they have about 120 students in the senior and junior high building and another 80 Kindergarten through sixth-grade students at the elementary school. That includes 14 seniors in next year’s graduating class of 2017.

“Enrollment is about the same as last year,” Cody said. “Our norm is about 10 to 15 graduates each year.”

He added Minatare has two students enrolled in the VALTS (Valley Alternative Learning Transitional School) through Educational Service Unit 13. That program also offers some dual credit courses with Western Nebraska Community College.

Minatare doesn’t have any new teachers this year, although some teachers from last year have been reassigned. The district is also taking advantage of more distance learning opportunities, providing classes as well as receiving them.

This school year will also see the opening of the greenhouse, which vocational agriculture students will use for learning opportunities. Students also will grow produce for a local farmers’ market.

A major addition to the high school is just about ready. An emergency shelter and community room is slated for completion in mid-September. A groundbreaking ceremony kicked off construction on March 25, 2016. Minatare schools will use the basketball half-court for a range of school activities. It will also house a concession stand for home sporting events.

Students from the high school and junior high can eat their lunches there. Currently, students must walk to the elementary school building, several blocks away, for lunch.

“It will be a commons area we can utilize during school activities,” Cody said. “It will be a multi-purpose facility that’s great for both the schools and the community.”

The building also will include an emergency generator in case of power outages, and a storage area for a three-day supply of water, as required by Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines.

The Minatare sports program is also expanding this school year. Cross country, which hasn’t been offered for the past six or seven years, is making a comeback this fall.

Superintendent Cody said some members who were successful in the track program last spring approached the school board about adding cross country. District policy requires at least five students be involved in the sport before it can be added as an extracurricular activity.

“We’re looking forward to another outstanding year,” Cody said. “We always like to see the kids do well. It’s all about the kids, so we offer a good education for kids that come to Minatare.”
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