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BOE OKs contracts, buses, trip to D.C.
Bailey, a sheepadoodle puppy, visited the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting Monday. Bailey is in training to be a therapy dog at Eisenhower Elementary School. - photo by photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting covered employee bonuses and pay increases, vehicle purchases that could potentially include two fleet buses at a cost of more than half a million dollars, and approval for Great Bend High School choir students to travel to Washington, D.C., next year over spring break.

But first, a sheepadoodle puppy named Bailey took center stage.

Bailey will serve as the Eisenhower Elementary School therapy dog. This fluffy cross between an Old English sheepdog and a poodle will live with Adam Cline, the Eisenhower math coach, and his wife Tammy Cline, a special education teacher.

Bailey is 3 months old and will receive the proper training and attend school daily to support all students and staff at Eisenhower who are in need. Krebaum Chiropractic in Great Bend provided the funding to purchase and train the dog, Tammy Cline said.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said there’s also a future therapy dog at his home that is being trained to work at Great Bend High School.

Washington trip

In action items, the board approved Vocal Music Director Susan Stambaugh’s request to resume the GBHS A Cappella Choir’s trips to Washington, D.C., during spring break in 2023.

Now that sophomore choir has been combined to join juniors and seniors in the A Cappella Choir, GBHS is on a three-year rotation for these trips, which were halted during the pandemic, Stambaugh said. Students can begin raising money to cover their expenses. During the trip they will have opportunities to visit educational sites and will have multiple performances.

Bonuses and pay increases

The board met in executive session for 30 minutes to discuss the latest proposal for increasing the base pay for staff, citing the Kansas Open Meetings Act exception when it comes to employer-employee negotiations. When the open board meeting resumed, the board approved next year’s negotiated agreement and pay adjustments.

Superintendent Thexton said the base pay for teachers will increase by $1,500, meaning a first-year teacher will earn $42,200. Overall, the district will add 3% to the pool of money for teacher salaries.

Classified staff, directors and administrators will also receive a 3% raise.

Earlier in the meeting, the board approved an additional “retention bonus” for employees. This money comes from round two of federal Elementary and Secondary Emergency (ESSER II) funds issued to school districts specifically to be used to address pandemic-related situations. Last year, and now this year, the board approved bonuses to employees to reward them for extra work during the pandemic and to encourage them to continue working here. The bonus will be $1,500 a year for teachers. Hourly staff will receive an extra 72 cents per hour, which comes to about $1,500 for a full-time employee over 12 months. (Therefore, employees on 11-month or 10-month schedules will receive less.)


Director of Transportation Cody Schmidt updated the board on district vehicles that transport students.

The board approved buying a 10-passenger van for the Barton County Special Services Cooperative that can accommodate wheelchairs, at a cost of $78,530 from Master’s Transportation. The money for this will come from the cooperative’s budget.

Schmidt also recommended buying two motorcoach buses from Master’s, starting  with a 2022 model now and ordering a 2023 model at the same time. The district has 25 years of service on two buses and one is no longer taken out of town because of safety concerns, Schmidt said.

The 2022 bus will cost $259,000 and can be delivered before school starts, Schmidt said. Three years ago a bus cost $217,500 and he expects the 2023 models will cost more. However, by ordering one now the district can lock in the same price, $259,000 for the second bus.

That was his recommendation, which the board approved. He said that in addition to costing more, he did not know how long it might take to receive a 2023 bus – but the earlier the district orders one, the sooner it will arrive.

The money will come from the capital outlay fund and the district will only pay for one bus at this time. In  answer to a board member’s question, Schmidt said the board could always choose not to get the second bus.