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HNS hires new teachers, agrees to buy new playground equipment

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HARTINGTON — The Hartington-Newcastle School Board Monday gave its approval to hire two new elementary teachers for next school year.

The new teachers will replace Julie Hefner, who plans to retire at the end of this school year and Mary Ann Kneifl, a Newcastle teacher who is retiring from her kindergarten and first grade teaching position.

The School Board gave its approval to hire Amber (Wortmann) Davies to teach in the elementary school. She is a 2009 Cedar Catholic graduate and has seven years of teaching experience.

Davies currently teaches at East-West Catholic Elementary School.

The Board also agreed to hire Plainview native Brittany Smith. Smith student-taught at HNS last year and was very popular with the elementary school students.

The Board also gave its approval Monday to spend $147,066 to replace aging playground equipment at the school. Board members said they believe the current equipment is at least 25 years old.

The school received three bids for the equipment.

They decided to go with Crouch Recreation. The Omahabased company is owned by former Husker quarterback Eric Crouch. The same company installed the playground equipment at Felber Park several years ago.

The new equipment will include a rubberized mat surface, which will replace the wood chips currently in place. The new equipment will be relocated further west so it will no longer be in a drainage area. The current set-up is nearly impossible to use after a rain storm.

Supt. A.J. Johnson said the company assured him they could have the new equipment installed prior to the start of the new school year.

Elementary School Principal Sara Edwards told the board Kindergarten and preschool roundup was held April 9 for the Hartington site.

There were 22 new kindergartners participating in the round-up and 20 preschoolers.

Edwards said the event was a success thanks to the help of Susan Anderson, Abby Dybdal, Katrina Kathol, Janelle Stueckrath, Denise Steffen and Audrey McCray who all worked to prepare for the roundup. Lori Koch also helped by contacting parents and setting up the round up schedule.

ESU 1 staffers Wendy Sudbeck and Sheila Becker screened the incoming kindergarten students' speech and Verna Luhr screened preschool and kindergarten students' hearing, Edwards said.

The Board also learned the school will be receiving some CARES Act funds, which Johnson hopes can be used to help pay for an expanded summer school program.

The program is being expanded to help students that may have fallen behind because of distance learning during the 2020 spring semester, Johnson said.

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