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USD 355 discusses softball
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eeting on Monday, the Ellinwood USD 355 school board discussed the future of softball at Ellinwood High School.
President Steve Billinger was in favor of retaining the program.
“Softball is a passion of mine,” he said. Billinger is the father of three daughters, and he has seen the importance  of softball in their lives.
“It builds character,” he said. There are now feeder programs for youth in the Ellinwood Recreation program and 14 confirmed players interested for next year.
“I’m very passionate for girls’ sports,” the president said.
The item was discussion only, and Becca Maxwell, board member, suggested keeping it on the agenda to be prudent with funding.
There were 11 players on the team last school year.
Ellinwood resident Ken Lebbin was present and expressed concerns about the austerity funding that the schools are under, and the three day working retreat in Kansas City for Superintendent Ben Jacobs, Principals Eric Sjogren and Shawn Henderson. The cost was $1400.
Lebbin said that he did not think it was a responsible decision and the school facility was large enough for sequestering.
“I understand where you are coming from,” he said to the board. Although Lebbin said such trips are common in the private sector the money could have been better spent.
He also had questions about the minutes from meetings. “I don’t understand why there are no dollar figures,” Lebbin said.  “How do you substantiate it so patrons know how you are spending?”
Superintendent Ben Jacobs said that the Kansas Association of School Boards recommended having very lean minutes but that had to be balanced to give as much information as possible. “If there are ever any questions, they can contact the central office if they need any supporting documentation,” said Jacobs.
In other business, Jacobs reported on the new school lunch program. The highest number served so far has been 101 meals, and the lowest number, 68. Meals served in Ellinwood are made mostly from scratch.
The price of meals will be raised next school year. Breakfast will cost an additional 5 cents and lunch will go up 15 cents due to federal requirements.
Jacobs also said that the district will receive $58 more per pupil, but the looming tax cuts make the future budget picture grim.
The board listened to a first read of the changes to the student handbook.
During his report of changes, Sjogren said that the elementary school will be adding a Citizenship Matters, rewarding positive behaviors for students. Students meeting the requirements will paint their names on a designated brick in the hallway. An Eagle Excellence Program will also be added. It is a separate program from the Citizenship Matters.
Concerning changes for the middle and high school handbook, Henderson said that with the closed lunches, wording will be changed. He also said that the school has seen a significant decrease in vandalism in the last year.
In final business, the board:
•Heard that the reason Billinger left the May meeting early was due to a serious family emergency.
•Passed the annual memorandum of understanding with St. Joseph School.
•Accepted the resignations of 1st grade teacher, Linda Duncan, and social studies teacher, Shane Duncan. They hired Andrea Eberhart as 1st grade teacher and Trevor Bieberle for high school social studies and coaching. Jodie Fisher was hired as a library aide, and Patricia Cauthon as instructional aide.