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Disque will continue as BOE president
USD 428 observes moment of silence for student Ryder Schmidt
Jacquie Disque
Jacquie Disque
Ryder Lee Schmidt

Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 school board meeting began with a moment of silence for Ryder Schmidt, an 11-year-old Great Bend boy who passed away on June 30.

“Our district lost a student,” board president Jacquie Disque said, noting his funeral would take place the following day. Ryder was a fifth grader at Eisenhower Elementary School. He had been hospitalized at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., since mid-March, due to Febrile Infection-Related Epilepsy Syndrome (FIRES).

Board elections were the first order of business when the school board met Monday at the District Education Center.

Disque was elected to serve as president of the school board for another year and Aaron Emerson will serve as vice president for another year. The board would go on to approve two consent agendas filled with routine appointments and procedures as the new fiscal year gets underway. One small change was made that increased the amount district employees will be reimbursed for meals when they are traveling. Superintendent Khris Thexton recommended authorizing a maximum allowance of $10 per meal for in-state travel and $15 for out-of-state travel. Emerson started a discussion on whether this should be higher and the board approved new allowances of $15 and $20, respectively.

Other items authorized with this routine list included, but were not limited to:

• A 30-cent per page charge for copy requests made to the Freedom of Information Officer.

• Allowing the administration to regularly dispose of unneeded, out-of-date district-owned property valued at $750 or less.

• Continuing the current practice of destroying all board meeting agendas and financial records older than five years to maintain manageable document storage.

• Substitute teacher pay is now $125 per day or $62.50 per half-day. Assistant Superintendent John Popp said the administration is exploring a $5 per day bump for subs who work 10 or more days a year or have added credentials. “This is the base,” he said.

No changes to Title IX policies

The board also approved policy revisions that were first reviewed at the June meeting. Superintendent Thexton said these were standard revisions recommended by the Kansas Association of School Boards, with one new policy that outlines cardiac emergency response planning. Four other revisions with new titles that were introduced at the first reading were eliminated for now. Thexton said they are related to Title IX laws and would have represented the biggest changes.

“We’re not going to worry about those; it is on pause.”

On April 19, the U.S. Department of Education released its final rule to fully effectuate Title IX’s promise that no person experiences sex discrimination in federally funded education. A federal government fact sheet notes that the Department is currently enjoined by federal court orders from enforcing the 2024 Title IX regulations in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming, and the regulations therefore do not currently apply in those states.

Thexton said the district will follow last year’s policies.

Personnel/other business

The board approved the resignation of Brian Williams, a counselor at Great Bend Middle School. Thexton said the letter of resignation arrived shortly after the cut-off but recommended the board accept it. Hoisington Superintendent Patrick Crowdis was in the audience Monday. Williams has already been approved to become a counselor in the Hoisington school district.

In another item related to personnel, USD 428 has been unable to hire a teacher/athletic trainer. Therefore, the board approved a contract with Advanced Therapy & Sports Medicine to provide athletic trainer services. The cost will be $25,000 per year for up to 1,000 hours. The rate after 1,000 hours will be $30 per hour.

“This is a five-year proposal,” Thexton said. “I have no concerns with hiring Advanced Therapy to be our athletic trainer.”

The Sports Medicine class was a good program and he hopes it can return in the future, he said. If so, the contract with Advanced Therapy is flexible.

The board also approved one small contribution, $2.40 to Riley Elementary for Casey’s Loyalty Program.