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Great Bend schools deliver meals to St. John during pandemic
Alvord recognized for outstanding service
Alvord ROSE award 2020
Great Bend USD 428 Superintendent Khris Thexton, left, presents the ROSE Award (Recognizing Outstanding Service to Education) to Food Service Director Kristy Alvord at Monday’s school board meeting.

Food Service Director Kristy Alvord thought she was there to give a report to Great Bend’s school board Monday night, but that was Superintendent Khris Thexton’s way of getting her to the meeting. Alvord was surprised as Thexton presented her with a USD 428 ROSE Award, in Recognition of Outstanding Service to Education.

Thexton has been praising the district’s Food Service Department since the COVID-19 pandemic first shut down schools last March, as Alvord and staff continued to provide meals. More recently, when the food service department for schools in St. John was short-handed due to the pandemic, USD 428 provided meals for that district as well.

“This award is for you and all the things that you’ve done for us, starting in March, when we had our situation with COVID pop up, and then all that you’ve done through the summer,” Thexton said. “And then also going above and beyond — taking care of not only our kids but other kids as well — we greatly appreciate it.

“Kristy and her staff have done a great job for our district and represented up very, very well,” Thexton said. “There’s a lot of moving parts that she takes care of and they do an outstanding job. So Kristy, thanks for all you do; we can’t thank you enough.”

School board member Don Williams said he knows people in St. John and had heard about how pleased they were that Great Bend was able to step in.

“They were just overwhelmed and thrilled with how our district worked with them,” Williams said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently reimbursing public schools for meals during the pandemic, but Alvord had to figure out how to make it work, Thexton said.

“Kristy took care of all that; she wrote up the contract and figured out the costs. The big thing was to make sure that costs were recovered and within the budget that was allowed at the federal level. She was underneath that number so it was very doable for us to get that done.”

Originally, Great Bend looked at sending sack lunches to St. John, but it was easier for the staff to just add 300 lunches and 100 breakfasts to each day’s menu. Transportation Department staff delivered those to St. John.

“This is an uncommon time and people are doing uncommon things, and great things for everybody,” Thexton said.

Grants and contributions

In action items Monday, the school board approved the following grants and contributions:

• The Great Bend Middle School Robotics Club received $1,589 from DCCCA of Lawrence for their involvement in the S.A.F.E. (Seatbelts Are For Everyone) program, a teen run, peer-to-peer program designed to reduce the number of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities among teens.

• Great Bend High School Speech and Debate Coach Kim Heath received a $300 grant from the NSDA Julia Burke Foundation. The money will be used to purchase wireless lapel mics for forensic students.

• Eisenhower Elementary received $344.95 for spring picture reward incentives from Strawbridge Studios Inc.

• Kroger is contributing reward incentives for the following schools: Riley Elementary, $258.98, and Lincoln Elementary, $402.65.

• The GBHS Activities Office received contributions from

- Marmie Motors Inc., $200 (touchdown program)

- Panther Booster Club, $5,000

- Ohio Pyle Prints Inc. $25.52 for athletic wear royalty

• Jefferson Elementary received a $600 contribution from an anonymous donor for flexible seating in Deena Smith’s second-grade classroom.

• Matt Hiss from Hiss Sherman Wealth Management presented checks to each USD 428 school that participated in the Wheatland Electric Cram the Van event. Jefferson Elementary received $300; Riley Elementary received $200; and Eisenhower Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Park Elementary, GBHS and GBMS each received $100.

• An anonymous local business donated $1,000 to USD 428 for “student nutrition and wellness,” with $500 going to Eisenhower and $500 going to Riley. Thexton said such gifts in the past might be used to offset negative balances on what families owe for meals. Because all meals are currently free, the money may be set aside or used for other wellness items, such as physical education balls.

Meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting.

• The board presented a Rose Award, in Recognition of Outstanding Service to Education, to Kristy Alvord, USD 428’s Food Service director.

• Assistant Superintendent John Popp and Director of Teaching and Learning Tricia Reiser reported on:

- A scheduled online meeting Dec. 2 with the district site council, to gather feedback and discuss the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) process and the impact COVID-19 has had on both in-school and remote learners.

- The annual teacher evaluation process.

- The status of the GB remote learning. For now, in-person learning will continue as long as there are enough teachers and substitute teachers available. The district could use more subs.

- The partnership with the Central Kansas Library System to increase access to e-books and e-audiobooks.

- Personnel and recruiting teachers for next year.

• Superintendent Khris Thexton reported on:

- COVID-19 updates.

- Upcoming projects, which include replacing the boiler at the Panther Activities Center. This could cost $250,00 or more. After an engineer provides specifications, the board will approve taking bids on the project.

- The annual Superintendent evaluation. Board members will be working on this in December.

- The annual Kansas Association of School Boards convention, to be held online Dec. 4-6.

- Grants and contributions. These were approved by the school board.