The Hancock School Board was focused on the 2017-2018 school year at their regular meeting on Monday, June 19, approving the budget, staffing and the student handbook for the upcoming academic year.

The proposed budget includes $4,381,318 in revenues and $4,351,607 in expenditures for a balance of $29,710.

Superintendent Loren Hacker told the board that it will received about $50,000 in new money from the Legislature. He also pointed out that the district was considering additional elementary staff and would need to replace a school van in the middle of the school year.

Board member Tim Schaefer called the budget, "downright skinny."

Board chair Barry Nelson replied, "If we're getting a zero increase and we're still getting all of this stuff done, I'd still call it a win."

Hacker explained that the budget will be more accurate after salary negotiations are complete and he revises it.

Principal Tim Pahl shared the staffing for the upcoming year. He noted that there will be 31 fifth-graders and he felt the students could really use the "extra assistance and small class size." He noted that last year, there were 34 students in the fifth grade and "it was extremely stressful" even with a paraprofessional in the classroom. "This would be the best for our students," Pahl said.

Board members approved the request for the additional staff. Pahl said that he had already advertised for the position and had four applications. He has interviewed two and would be prepared to bring the contract for the position to the July board meeting. This is the only unfilled teaching position in the district at this time, Pahl said.

In addition to the second section of fifth grade, the board approved adding another hour to Penny Schmidgall's contract. Schmidgall currently teaches a college English course one hour each day, and this will double her time in the school.

There are still openings on the coaching roster. Pahl reported that they have openings for an assistant football coach as well as a head coach for boys' and girls' track.

Pahl also outlined changes to the high school student handbook for the coming year. The changes include:

• Reducing the number of days a student has to make up work missed because of a family trip or vacation to three days.

• A list of general expectations for study hall.

• Banning personal electronic devices such as cell phones, digital cameras, iPads and Chromebooks in classrooms during the school day. Teachers who require the use of electronic devices during their class will release students to get them from their lockers.

• Restricting backpacks in classrooms. Backpacks must remain in student lockers during the day.

• Banning cut-off shirts for both boys and girls.

• Prohibiting coats in the classrooms.

• Establishing a lost and found area in the main entryway of the school.

Pahl said elementary students who bring cell phones to school will be required to keep them turned off and in their lockers throughout the school day. He will review the handbook with new staff during orientation and visit with students about the changes on the first day of classes. Pahl said the key will be that every staff member needs to enforce these rules.

In other business, the board awarded the fuel contract for the upcoming year to Hancock Co-op and the milk contract to Food Service of America. They also voted to hire Eide Bailly for the 2017 district audit at a cost of $11,800.