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School talks about replacing ‘the sign’

The Nevada School District is considering flaunting a “sign of the present times.”

Discussion at Monday’s regular board meeting centered on the district replacing the old marquee sign, that sits outside the high school along 15th Street, with an updated, LED sign, which would be similar to the one outside Nevada City Hall.

High School Principal Justin Gross provided the district with some preliminary quotes on putting in an updated sign to replace the present sign, installed in 1999. Gross said he spoke with Stewart TekStart LED and found out that Stewart is the company that installed the school’s present sign. A new sign would cost somewhere in the ballpark of $20,000.

Gross said he wanted to discuss with the board how they felt about putting in an updated sign and where they thought that a new sign should be located. He said there have been recommendations to put the sign near the softball field, along 19th Street, or south of the auditorium in one of the grassy areas.

One of the problems with the old sign, which takes someone to physically put in letters, one by one, to spell out events or comments, is that it is time-consuming. Gross said quite some time back, it was Mrs. Uhlenhopp’s class that took care of updating the sign. But in recent years the task has fallen to staff members, who generally put that duty on the back burner when they are busy.

Gross said he remembers when he interviewed for principal job a few years back and was driving around town. It was the month of February, but there was a September volleyball game announcement on the school sign. “I thought, ‘Wow,’” he admitted, but said since his arrival, he hasn’t really been able to make a positive change on the sign situation because of the time it takes to change all the lettering.

It was asked what type of information would be put on a sign. Gross thought school activities could be listed, as well as things like when teams were playing at state tournaments, because those games don’t often have a lot of turnaround time to be announced.

There was concern among the board that in this age of Tnternet and related technologies, is it necessary to have a sign that tells what’s going on?

Superintendent Steve Gray said the sign is another example of having a district that looks sharp. “You know where I stand on curb appeal…you only get one chance to make a first impression.”

“We are in an age of competing for kids,” Gross said, noting that the new LED sign in front of the Bondurant-Farrar school really makes an impression.

Board Vice President Mike Bates wasn’t convinced that people really choose a school based on a sign. He was concerned about the need for funds for the middle school 1:1 program that is coming soon, and questioned whether spending money on a sign would be money well spent.

It was mentioned that maybe sponsors could be sought to help pay for the LED sign, somewhat like the sponsors for the high school scoreboard sign in the gym. Bates said he worries about the idea of getting more sponsors, many of whom already help the district. “How many times can you go to the well?” he asked.

But board member Laura West said she thinks signs like the one in the gym are great forms of advertising for local businesses, so she didn’t think that getting support for another sign would be a problem.

Board President Marty Chitty brought up that businesses in town, like Good and Quick, have run into issues with allowing advertising on an LED sign. He wondered if the school had checked to see what the city’s policies are. Gross said they haven’t gotten that far into their research yet.

The discussion ended with most board members saying that if a new sign is installed, their first choice would be to have it placed along 19th Street by the softball field, where traffic volume is much higher. Bates also thought that perhaps the district could see, a little further into the year, what contingency funds are left from the high school project, and that those might be a good way to cover the cost.

Gray said administration will bring the issue back before the board this spring.

In other business:

• The board discussed how it will move forward with crisis planning, especially in light of the departure of Jeff Theulen as the city’s public safety director. Theulen had been discussing a plan with the district, in terms of preparing students and staff for emergency situations, including elements of the active shooter trainings, such as A.L.I.C.E. Bates noted that board members had received letters from the public wanting the district to follow through and be prepared for these types of incidents. Chitty said it’s really a matter of waiting on the city to get their leadership in line, with a new public safety director or person in charge, before the district moves forward.

Gray indicated that he has spoken to Chief Ric Martinez and has scheduled a meeting with Officer Matt Snyder to move foward with planning.

• The board approved increasing the wireless access points at Central Elementary School to accomodate the new 1:1 learning environment more efficiently. District technology director Joe Wakeman said he would be extending the infrastructure that is in place at the high school and putting it at Central, and that all of this will have a very quick turnaround of just a few days.

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