ELLINWOOD — The planning stage is nearly over as USD 355 will soon be installing electronic locking doors at district schools, beginning the first of May. They will be done shortly thereafter.
The public will have to be buzzed in by administrative staff after the installation is completed, the school board learned at its regular April meeting on Monday.
Regarding school finance, Superintendent Ben Jacobs estimates that the school will receive an additional $15,000-$16,000 with the school finance bill just passed by the state legislature. The USD 355 mill levy will decrease a quarter of a mill.
Jacobs also said he did not agree with the bill because it was not a clean bill and should not have included extra items attached to the bill, including teacher tenure and private school tax credits.
His understanding was that all teacher contracts would be for one year and district would still have to provide for intent to non-renew. He added that no district seeks to let go of good teachers.
“A good teacher is gold,” he said.
He also said that the provision doesn’t change the salary schedule and that there were still a lot of unanswered questions.
Jacobs attended a private school during his growing up years. He said he did not agree with the tax credit provisions for corporations to donate to Title 1 private schools. He thought it was a slippery slope to begin allowing this type of funding for private schools.
The finance bill is waiting signature or veto by Gov. Sam Brownback.
In other business, Ellinwood Grade School Principal Eric Sjogren reported they had 27 kids for kindergarten enrollment for the upcoming year. He expected 5-10 more children to enroll for school next fall.
Sjogren asked the board to consider removing the section of fence in front of the school, west of the front sidewalk. He would like to replace fencing east of the sidewalk where the students play on equipment.
In addition, he has approached the city of Ellinwood to find a way to make the front of the school safer during the morning and afternoon pickup. Traffic congestion becomes serious, particularly during the afternoon time, he said.
Larry Drees, Ellinwood Public Education and Library Foundation, gave a report on activities this year. The foundation brought in a speaker, Joe Coles, to talk to the students about bullying and making right choices.
The foundation has paid for several students’ entry fees to SubState competitions this year. Other assistance given to Ellinwood schools included audio/visual equipment, Egghead and Sports Banquet and library equipment; sponsoring author Cynthia Kadohata, and scholarships and grants. The board thanked the library foundation for their generosity. Drees said the foundation donated $30,000 to public education this year in Ellinwood.
The board discussed how much funding the district would give to the administrative team to conduct a three-day administrative work session that has taken place for several years in Kansas City. This would be the protocol moving forward.
Board Member Becca Maxwell asked that the retreat be moved closer to home. Also, Jacobs said the administrators agreed to pay for the retreat themselves.
Jacobs said the staff had agreed to pay the weekend themselves because they felt the time was so valuable.
The board approved by a vote of 5-1 $1500 of Professional Development funds to be used by the superintendent and principals for administrative work sessions this summer in Kansas City. Ronda Sjogren recused herself from the vote.
In final business, the board:
•Accepted the resignation of Paul Ringering as custodian; Jan Embry as food aide; and hired Jeff Zook as sixth grade teacher.