Other items of discussion and actions taken at the USD 428 BOE meeting included:
• Recognized members of the GBHS FBLA who qualified for district, regional and national competition. Special recognition was given to senior Sarah Niederee who, in lieu of national competition this year, served for her third year as a state FBLA member, as well as a National FBLA board member and for serving over 250 hours of volunteer service over her high school career, earning her FBLA’s Community Service Achievement Award.
• Recognized the district’s Kansas Teacher of the Year winners and awarded plaques. Deena Smith won the designation for the elementary school level, while Tami Schepmann won for the secondary school level.
• Approved of K-6 music curriculum adoption.
• Approved GBHS High School handbook, activities handbook, athletics handbooks.
• Approved contract with Lifetouch for fall individual portraits.
• Approved membership with Kansas Association of School Boards.
• Approved grant submissions by Eisenhower teachers and principal.
• A communication from Karen Shaner was read, announcing donations from individuals in the community, as well as a large donation from The Zinn Memorial Golf Tournament, to give away bicycles (20) to students with perfect attendance at the district’s five elementary schools. The board approved acceptance of the donation.
• USD 428 was selected as one of three districts in the state as a MTSS Cohort—which means teachers will receive direct training for the next three years at no cost to the district.
• The high school Advanced Placement (AP) program is set to be strengthened, Reed reported. Next year, five courses will be offered.
• Approved the purchase of a new dump trailer from Pro Green Total Lawn Care.
• Approved permission to seek bids for the Eisenhower Elementary School flooring project, replacing tiles with carpet tiles.
• Approved a request to seek bids for a roofing project at Washington School.
• Heard the Superintendent’s report which included information about printing next year’s school calendar, the cost for REV transactions, mini-grant awards, new BOE member training, and updates on the BCC pool and the walking school bus program.
Before the USD 428 Board of Education dove into their business meeting Monday evening, President Kevin Mauler recognized retired teacher Jean Cavanaugh as A Friend of Education. Former superintendent, Tom Vernon, came to offer his support.
“I’m glad to call her my friend,” Mauler said, choking back emotion. Cavanaugh shared that she had been a substitute teacher of both Kevin Mauler and Larry Kutina, his fellow board member, when they were in the eighth grade.
At the March meeting, the board decided to split the bid for the district’s contract for photography services in an effort to entice local photographers to work with the district. This month, Assistant Superintendent Khris Thexton reported on the results. For individual portraits, the only bid came from Lifetouch Photography. That bid was accepted and the board authorized Thexton to move forward with a three year contract for those services.
For school sports photography, only two bids were received. Lifetouch’s bid was lowest, and was recommended to the board for approval for this reason. However, local photographer Amy Stein had also submitted a bid. Board members Cheryl Rugan and Doug Bender spoke out in favor of keeping business local.
Rugan opined that the quality of Lifetouch’s finished product had gone down in recent years, and they had not been reliable about completion dates. At the past meeting, she brought up communication she had received from patrons, frustrated that items like buttons had not been received until the season was nearly over.
Bender also shared patron desires to keep district spending local, and suggested awarding the contract locally would encourage other local photographers to bid at the next round. It would send a message that the district indeed is open to smaller, local participation.
Superintendent Brad Reed at first suggested that since Lifetouch was a large, national company, they would likely be willing to work with the district. He suggested local photographers could be invited to sessions with Lifetouch to observe how they work, with the goal of having more bid next year. But Rugan brought wondered if that would be possible, considering the district had requested a bid for a three-year contract. Reed felt the company would be willing to work with them. Still, Rugan asked if the discussion could be tabled and brought back up at a subsequent meeting. Member Dwight Young asked what new information they would have at the next meeting that they did not have now. Reed said he could talk to representatives of Lifetouch to determine if they would be open to another bidding process next year. The board agreed.
Measuring up to the state
Reed delivered a report by Assistant Superintendent John Popp, out of town on a recruiting trip this week, on graduation rates at the high school compared to the state. Great Bend High School has a higher graduation rate than the state of Kansas for all students. There was one exception, however. White students in the district lag behind the state by about one percentage point. This prompted discussion, but no conclusions were made.
And while Reed pointed out the district outperformed the state for all students going on to post-secondary education, students scored below the state average on ACT tests. This is something the district has been working hard to remedy, he said. Kutina underscored this, stating the district really needs to get the scores up because they are tied to scholarships. Rugan asked if the lower percentages might be because more kids are taking the test than ever before. Reed said that may be, but we need to raise the boat for all.
Rugan asked if Reed could arrange to have the ACT coach the district would be working with present to the board exactly what would be taught. He agreed to invite the coach to the next meeting.
The board moved into a 30-minute executive session for the purpose of discussing non-elected personnel. No action was taken.
The board will meet next at a noon meeting Thursday, April 30, at Lincoln Elementary School. The next regular meeting will be Monday, May 11 at 5 p.m. at the district offices.