Meeting at a glance
Here’s a quick look at Monday’s school board meeting:
• Teacher of the Year candidates were recognized.
• Randy Wetzel, GBHS assistant principal, presented information regarding the recent addition of student-led parent-teacher conferences, and the drastic increase of parent participation.
• Bids for flooring and roofing were approved with the low bidders selected.
• Science curriculum adoptions were approved for K-6 and GBHS; the GBMS curriculum recommendation had its first of two readings before approval.
• The Perfect Attendance Bicycle Giveaway program was approved for 2018. Each year, community donors provide bicycles for each of the elementary schools and students with perfect attendance are entered in a drawing for the bikes.
• Membership in the Kansas Association of School Boards was renewed at a cost of $13,696.52.
• Student handbooks and teacher handbooks were presented for the first of two readings before they are approved by the board.
• Technology literacy standards were approved.
• Assistant Superintendent John Popp reported on teacher recruitment efforts. There are 15 positions to fill before the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
• Superintendent Khris Thexton reported on Education Foundation grants; a gift to a school and two grant application submissions; the legislative update; work being done by the architect committee; and the school picture photography contract. The firm Strawbridge Studios Inc. was awarded the photography contract for the first time.
• An executive session was held to discuss personnel and the latest proposal for increasing the base pay rate for teachers. No action was taken, but after the meeting Thexton said an offer will go to the teachers for approval.
• The personnel report was approved, with one new teacher appointment and two resignations.
During Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Khris Thexton noted the Kansas Legislature’s passage of a school finance bill will add $522 million for K-12 funding over the next five years. The bill awaits the signature of Governor Jeff Colyer, who has already endorsed it publicly.
It also awaits the approval of the Kansas Supreme Court, which gave the Legislature until April 30 to pass a school funding bill that meets a court mandate. Last October the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s current funding of more than $4 billion a year is insufficient.
Thexton said school administrators don’t yet know how the bill will affect specific districts, but he does expect there will be more money for special education.
School Board member Susan Young praised Sen. Mary Jo Taylor (R-Stafford) and Rep. Tory Arnberger, (R-Great Bend), saying, “our Representative and our Senator both backed education for our district.” The Legislature worked into the night Saturday to pass this bill, and even though it is not perfect, Young said, “I think that we need to thank our Senator and our Representative for having our kids’ backs.”
Later in the meeting, the board discussed the latest proposal for increasing the base pay rate for Great Bend teachers. The board spent 30 minutes in executive session for that discussion of employer-employee negotiations, and no action was taken on the matter when the open meeting resumed.
After the meeting, Thexton told the Great Bend Tribune that teachers now have an offer to approve or reject. He said the Legislature’s bill will not have an effect on the offer, because the district always bases its budget on money that it actually has, not what is promised in the future.
• The contract for multiple sections of flooring at Eisenhower and Park schools went to the low bidder, Kustom Floor, for $244,200.
Bids for sections of roofing at Great Bend High School went to the low bidder, Washington Roofing, at a cost of $215,116. GB High School were opened on 4/5/18. The administration recommends approval of the lowest bid.
The flooring and roofing projects will occur during the summer.
• Local patrons supporting a Perfect Attendance Bicycle Giveaway program have donated four bicycles to each elementary school in the district to use for student perfect attendance incentives. Eligible students are those having perfect attendance throughout the year. Karen Shaner, representing all donors, sent a letter to the district requesting permission to continue the bike giveaway program, which began in 2013. The board voted to approve it.
• Kristy Alvord, assistant director of Food Service, received approval to apply for a Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program grant through USDA for the 2018-2019 school year. The grant is a federal and state program that provides reimbursement for costs of making free fresh fruits and vegetables available to students as a snack, two to five days a week. Grants are based on the total number of enrolled students and the percentage eligible for free/reduced-price meals. Currently, the program is at Eisenhower and Park elementary schools. This year’s application will add Lincoln Elementary.
• Tricia Reiser, director of Teaching and Learning Services, received approval to apply for a Kansas State Department of Education Migrant Summer Services Grant. The grant assists local school districts serving migrant students in K-8 reading instruction, K-8 mathematics instruction and Pre-K Jump Start. These services must be provided during the summer of 2018 to improve academic achievement and to prepare preschool migrant students for success in kindergarten.
• The board accepted a $20 cash donation to the GBHS Vocational Technology Club from Quality Glass.
• The board approved the appointment of Colbi Brooks to teach fourth grade at Jefferson Elementary and accepted the resignations of Molly Burger, fourth-grade teacher at Jefferson, and David Wichman, seventh-grade science teacher at Great Bend Middle School.