In other action, the USD 428 School Board:
• Following two executive sessions, approved pay increases for district personnel. Teachers will get an additional $300 on their base pay, administrators will get a 1 percent raise and classified employees will get an additional 40 cents per hour.
• Discussed roofing projects in the district. The priority project now is Jefferson Elementary where water stands on the roof. Also on the current rotation is work on Riley Elementary School and the district warehouse/bus barn. The total estimated cost for the work is $440,000. District staff hope to get the bids out in November and back by December. Future roof-work plans include Great Bend High School and the prioritizing of other projects for the next five to six years.
• Learned the Kansas State Department of Education will post individual school building report cards on its website after it meets this month. The reports will include state assessment results, adequate yearly progress results, quality performance accreditation status, gradation rates, teacher quality data and other information. The site is www.ksde.org.
• Approved accepting a Barton County LEAD Project and Healthy Communities Partnership donation to Great Bend Middle School for $100 to support Red Ribbon Week, and drug and alcohol prevention programs.
• Approved a grant application by Laura Blevins at Riley Elementary School for a $1,000 Healthy Habits for Life Grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation. It would help with efforts to teach about nutrition and physical activity.
• Heard about a revised eight-year K-12 textbook adoption schedule. It will allow for increased time for preparing recommendations. However, middle and high school art were not included in the rotation. Administrators said they would look into this.
• Learned the term of one of the district’s two appointments to the Great Bend Recreation Commission Board expires as of Dec. 31. Mary Misegadis is currently in the post and said she would like a second term. But, the district will advertise the opening in the Tribune to see if anyone else is interested. A decision will be made at the board’s Nov. 8 meeting.
• Heard about an upcoming meeting between administrators and members of the various parent-school groups in the district. They will discuss the rules governing the organizations.
The Unified School District 428 School Board Monday night approved a much-discussed policy governing memorials and memorial services for students and district personnel.
The board heard the first reading of the new policy at its September evening meeting.
"The primary purpose of school facilities and grounds is to support the educational and extra-curricular endeavors of all students," the draft proposal read. "It is the intent of the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education to maintain all facilities and grounds for this purpose and to give first priority to these endeavors. Furthermore, the Board of Education believes learning takes place best in an environment protected from undue emotional stress."
The purpose of a memorial is to help bring closure for those who are grieving. But, it shouldn’t interfere with the district’s key mission, Superintendent Tom Vernon said at the September meeting.
Before approval, the policy received some minor tweaking by board members gathered at the District Education Center. What if, board member Larry Kutina asked, someone was no longer an employee or student in the district at the time of their death? Would memorials in their honor not be allowed? What if a person who wasn’t affiliated with the district wanted to make a contribution?
A sentence mandating this was removed. This left all memorials to the discretion of the board.
Some key provisions of the policy are:
• The regular school day will not be shortened or dismissed in order for students and staff to attend a funeral or memorial service.
• Students who wish to attend funerals or memorial services will be released with parental permission.
• School activities and games will continue as scheduled except when the superintendent, in the event of a catastrophic event (such as an accident with multiple student/staff deaths), determines that such activities would be inappropriate.
• Use of school grounds or facilities for memorial and/or funeral services during school time is prohibited. Requests for use of school grounds or facilities for such purposes after school and on weekends would be discouraged.
• Memorials established upon school district property must be proposed, reviewed, and adopted cognizant of: Equality; proper concern for all students, staff, and community members; appropriateness of the memorial; and best usage of available property.
The district has established the USD 428 Educational Foundation through which monetary memorials can be given or scholarships established.
Other suggested memorials include educational materials, equipment or decorative plants. A floral arrangement could also be displayed during graduation at the request of a parent or guardian. But, there would be limits on plaques, pictures and other memorabilia placed on school grounds, and on tributes in student publications. The plan also deals with the disposal of memorials.