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Community group studies schools
Recommendation is months away
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The community group that has been meeting with architects and looking at needs for Great Bend USD 428 is still months away from making a recommendation, Superintendent Khris Thexton told the school board on Monday.
“We’re in the fact-finding time,” he said.
In March, Terry Wiggers, senior vice president at SJCF Architecture in Wichita, said he had been meeting with teachers and community members as his firm studies the needs of the district’s schools. At the end of February, the first community steering committee meeting was held at Great Bend High School.
The meetings have continued. Last Thursday a group of more than 30 people studying district infrastructure met at Great Bend Middle School.
“It was a very good meeting,” Thexton said, noting community members are digging into information on demographics, technology and other aspects of education.
“We’re a long ways from being anywhere to putting a plan together,” the superintendent said, adding the board can expect a presentation next January.

Even though people are only discussing ideas and gathering facts, school board member Jacquie Disque said the administration shouldn’t wait too long to update the public.
“I think that’s an awful long time to have the public in the dark about what we have been doing,” Disque said.
A wide range of ideas is being presented in this discovery phase, Thexton said. “No stone is being unturned.”

Move sixth graders or add a preschool?
One idea suggested early on is moving sixth graders into the middle school, which would create more space at the elementary schools for all-day kindergarten and preschoolers. Board member Deanna Essmiller asked where the discussion of the placement of sixth graders comes into the planning at this stage.
“All of that’s been out there,” Thexton said. “The bottom line, I think it will come down to, what’s the cost difference?”
Board member Susan Young indicated that another option that has been suggested is a central Early Childhood Center.
Board member Don Williams added that one bit of information he appreciated receiving was the history of the local mill levy for education. He would like that information shared with the community. “We’re sitting there, way below other districts,” he said.
Thexton said it has been his experience that the school board has aimed to keep the mill levy at a steady level, avoiding fluctuations.
Thexton said the administration would get information released as soon as possible. Meanwhile, board member Cheryl Rugan commented on the large number of community members already looking at information.
“It’s really exciting to see so many people involved,” she said.

Salary update
Teacher pay increases averaging 5 percent were approved Monday as part of the “consent agenda.” In answer to a question from the Great Bend Tribune, Superintendent Thexton said Tuesday that the board also approved a 5 percent raise for classified staff, directors and administrators as part of that action.