Thursday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting ended with a surprise for long-time employee Patty Vratil, who serves as clerk of the school board. She was given an “Award of Excellence” in honor of her 36 years of employment with the district.
Vratil is retiring this month and it was her final school board meeting. She was also given a commemorative clock and a cake, which she shared with board members and district employees.
In action items, the board approved a $292.72 donation to the local FFA, under the sponsorship of Great Bend High School instructor Kevin Hoff, from the National FFA organization for future scholarships.
The board also approved the 2017-2018 E-Rate funding request.
The universal fee that consumers pay for telephone service is passed on to schools and libraries to provide discounts for telecommunications and internet access.
This service is known as the E-rate program.
According to the Federal Communication Commission, “The discounts range from 20 to 90 percent, with higher discounts for higher poverty and more rural schools and libraries. Schools and libraries are always responsible for paying at least some part of the cost of service.”
Schools and libraries submit requests for competitive bids for specific E-rate services.
At Great Bend USD 428, the federal funds help pay for the internet, cellular phones and local/long distance telephone service, costing a total of $145,841 for one year. After E-rate funding of $92,528, the cost to the district will be $53,313.
This time last year, the board received $107,000 from E-rate, and the cost to the district was $46,945.
Interim Superintendent Khris Thexton said this year the district is also asking for Category 2 Funding for wireless access points for elementary schools and the District Education Center. E-rate will pay 80 percent, or more than $90,000 of the $113,522 cost. The one-time cost to the district will be $22,704.
Thexton noted that the reimbursement for telephone service is shrinking, and in another year it will go away entirely.
“That’s why we upgraded our phone system,” he said.