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Architect reviews needs at USD 428

POSTED March 12, 2018 9:42 p.m.

with mug of Terry Wiggers


Terry Wiggers, senior vice president at SJCF Architecture in Wichita, has been meeting with teachers and community members as his firm studies the needs of Great Bend USD 428 schools. On Monday, he attended the board of education meeting to report on his work.
“We have now met with every school,” Wiggers said. Staff talked about the challenges they see in their buildings and teachers were asked how they envision their classrooms 10 to 15 years in the future.
“It was really obvious you’ve done a great job of maintaining equity among the schools,” Wiggers said.
“As we went through we also talked about what would happen if the sixth grade moved up (from elementary school to the middle school),” he said. The types of things teachers are asking for are basic improvements, such as fixing leaky windows he said. Things on their wish lists are “very achievable.”
Assistant Superintendent John Popp agreed, saying teachers’ we’re asking for “pie in the sky” projects.
At the end of February, the first community steering committee meeting was held at Great Bend High School. A cross section of the community will identify problems, set goals and help find solutions that will culminate in a recommendation to the school board. 
“I really like that the staff was involved, and the community,” board member Lori Reneau said Monday.
Board member Cheryl Rugan agreed. “It’s exciting for them to have a forum to express their opinions.”

Strengths and challenges

Superintendent Khris Thexton said the staff was also excited to be taking part.
At a meeting last December, some of the strengths identified for USD 428 by administrators were:
• Neighborhood elementary schools
• Collaboration with the schools, city and recreation commission
• The academics and activities at all buildings; a core curriculum
• The availability of Chromebooks and free wi-fi
• Community support/volunteers

Some of the challenges identified are:
• Aging and declining population
• Poverty - 68 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals
• Traffic/parking at schools
• Landlocked buildings
• Need for safe rooms
• High taxes for this community
• Auditorium space needs
• Growth of special needs programs and space
• Play equipment at elementary schools

Other business
In other business, the board approved the purchase of updated bleachers at Great Bend Middle School, using the low quote provided by Kansas Contract Design, Wichita, for $39,210. The other quote from Heartland Kansas was $3,000 higher, Thexton said.
A change to science graduation requirements was approved. Students will still need three science credits, but the policy will specify that at least one class will be a physical science and at least one will a life science.
The board approved the release of documents to bid on replacing 20-year-old carpet at Eisenhower and Park schools, and specification and approval to release bid requests for a summer project involving roofing on the very northern part of GBHS and two bathrooms and the visitor side of the stadium.
Sid Wiens, president of Wiens & Company Construction in Hutchinson, requested to address the board. He reminded the board of projects his firm as done in Great Bend and said, “We wanted to express our interest” in future projects.
Teachers who worked on the science curriculum committee discussed their recommendations for the next curriculum adoption. Assistant Superintendent John Popp noted this proposal is presented to the board twice, and Monday was the “first reading.”
“They’ve gone through a very extensive process to get to this point,” Popp said.
The recommendation will cost about $154,000 for the middle school and high school, although Popp said he believes the vendor will reduce the cost by $10,000, and another $8,555 for new microscopes at GBHS. For grades K-6, teachers recommend using Project Lead the Way curriculum, which will cost $255,570 over seven years.

Contributions approved
The board accepted the following donations:
• Yoga Central clients donated $79 toward elementary school student lunches. Students who cannot afford meals will be able to use these funds.

• The Great Bend High School Activities Department received donations of $9,495 for a competition-wrestling mat and $500 for team bowling balls from the GBHS Panther Booster Club.

The board approved the appointment of:
• Stephanie Stephens, fifth-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary
• Shelly Duvall, health/physical education teacher and head volleyball coach at GBHS
The board accepted resignations or retirement from:
• Gaye Callich, teacher of deaf and hard of hearing for Barton County Special Services
• Brandi Boese, K-3 special education teacher at Eisenhower Elementary
• Leslie Perkins, reading interventions teacher at Lincoln Elementary
• Nancy Baxter, vocal assistant teacher at GBHS.


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