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Jasper County Tribune

Gaming club proposed at Colfax school board meeting

Colfax School District board members start their January meeting Monday night.
Colfax School District board members start their January meeting Monday night.

The first order of business during the Colfax-Mingo School Board meeting Monday to start off the year was to hear from junior high social studies teacher Dave Brahn, who was making a pitch to start an Esports club for the high school.

The club revolves around competitive video gaming on computers with games such as League of Legends which is becoming a trend throughout school districts across the country. Brahn said it will have two benefits for students: to build relationships among the students and to motivate the students to get good enough grades to be eligible to participate in the club.

“It’s basically competitive video game-playing. A lot of these are played in a team environment, so it works out well with schools,” Brahn said. “It’s just going to give them another area where they can play in a social aspect.”

The idea for the new club left an impression for those who were there listening. Superintendent Jim Verlengia said the idea is a sign that the times are evolving.

“My first thought was, ‘Look how far we’ve come,’” Verlengia said. “What’s really great about it is it gives some our students, who wouldn’t necessarily participate in a sport, it gives them another opportunity. I’ve got a feeling there are kids who are not currently getting engaged in school will really look forward to doing that.”

After hearing the pitch about Esports, Verlengia updated the board regarding the application process for finding the school district’s new superintendent. So far, 30 applicants have express interest while 20 have completed and turned in the applications. The board will review the applications during a special, closed-door meeting.

“The applications ended today and the board will take a look at those applications Jan. 30. That will be a closed-door session,” Verlengia said. “Basically, they’re going to review the candidates and decide who they are going to interview.”

In other business Monday night, a topic regarding looking at website services to upgrade the school district’s website was tabled until the February meeting. The reason for this is simply personnel needed more time to get ready to present the options.

“We’re just trying to improve our website,” Verlengia said. “We had a study done, (our website) is a little stale and outdated. There’s nothing wrong with it, but we wanted to bring it up to speed.”

“We’ve had people sick and we’ve had to call school late, so the committee hasn’t had a chance to meet yet,” Verlengia added.

Board members also looked at and approved a potential 2018-19 early retirement package. Two employees within the school district are eligible for the package this year, meaning the savings from the 2019-20 general fund could total somewhere between $18,000 and $47,000, depending on who accepts the package and the cost of the replacements.

The motion approved 5 to 2, with board members Doug Van Dyme and Jan Myers voting no.

Verlengia said he speculates some board members, thinking from a business point of view, shouldn’t offer a package.

“If we had six or eight people go and you figure, ‘You have somebody my age paying this much,’ and you multiply that by six, there’s quite a cost savings there,” Verlengia said. “I think that was just a piece a couple of the board members didn’t feel was enough savings for the district to legitimize the offer.”

Contact Orrin Shawl at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or at oshawl@newtondailynews.com

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