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Breathing Room
USD 428 sees increase in state aid for 2014-2015
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The new concession stand on the east side of Great Bend High School Memorial Stadium shoud be finished in a few days after materials arrive. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

The USD 428 Board of Education started off Monday evening with a budget hearing, approving the 2014-2015 school budget.  This year, thanks to the Gannon decision earlier this spring, the state will provide more favorable capital outlay matching, which the district will use to help rebuild cash balances that have become increasingly depleted over the past few years, said Director of Finance Khris Thexton.  This year, the Full Time Enrolled base state aid per pupil will be $3,852, up from last year’s $3,838.  As the district did not levy any dollars out of capital outlay last year, this will generate $676,000 through capital outlay.  
“The district’s goal has been to keep the mill rate as flat as possible, and this will help us to keep doing this,” he said.  The board approved the budget, and Thexton reminded members that at all future meetings, budget documents will be available as required by law.  

Super report
Superintendent Brad Reed reported the district received 65 transfer requests, and approved 31.  He also met with representatives from the United Way of Central Kansas who asked the district become more of a presence as it is the largest employer in the area.  Jennifer Schartz will become the district’s United Way point person, and will meet with leaders at each school to organize a district wide effort.
Reed also updated the board on the progress Athletic Director Dave Meter is making with securing an athletic department contract to purchase Underarmor brand apparel for district uniforms.  The contract would award exclusive right to sell, and would benefit students by providing discounted prices, he said.
The district will also welcome two students with KSHSAA cooperative agreements to participate on the GBHS boys and girls swim teams this year, Reed said.  One swimmer from Claflin will return to Great Bend this year, and one boy from La Crosse will join this year and plans to participate for grades 9-11.  
“Cooperative agreements need to be looked at individually so we don’t displace our own kids,” Reed said.  “These two agreements will not do that, and will give students from another district a chance to compete in something they love.”

With the start of the school year, board members have received feedback about the lack of USD 428 activity calendars.  The board decided when the new district website and software was updated in the spring that the printed calendars would be discontinued.  Reed addressed the issue, outlining how the decision was made.  Accuracy was an issue, due to publisher requirements, and it came to the district’s attention that many calendars were being disposed of, making waste an issue too.  But one of the most important factors was the program used to make the calendar was so obsolete, no system in the district remained to create another calendar like it, Thexton said.  On the plus side, the calendar is now customizeable on the website, and can be printed off at home.  
Reed said the district is also happy to print calendars for patrons.  A customized calendar can be printed at local schools by request, or patrons can stop by the district office if they want something similar to past years.  
“The bottom line is, we want people to be happy with our service and we’re here to do what we can to make that possible,” Reed said.

Focus on helping learn
USD 428 Director of Curriculum, John Popp, said the district would continue to focus on building the Professional Learning Communities that got their start last year.  The goal of the communities is to help implement a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS), which will facilitate teachers in determining the best ways to reach students to help make learning effective, regardless of the level they are at.  This means, for many kids, class intervention is enough, but for other learners, more attention may be needed.  As teachers become better equipped, students will benefit, he said.  The PLC’s will continue to emphasize mapping and adapting lessons to the College and Career Ready standards this year.   He also gave an overview of what the district would be focusing on for accreditation, curriculum, assessment and professional development activities.   

Other items discussed and actions taken include:
•    Thexton provided an update on capital improvement projects, including the HVAC system at Riley Elementary, which is nearly complete, and the concession stand build at Great Bend High School Memorial Stadium.  A delay caused by the materials distribute has stopped work briefly.  The framing is up and the building should be completed in a few days after materials arrive.  
•    Approved submission of applications for  “Painting a Brighter Future” grant for Lincoln Elementary School and a Cox Communications technology grant for the district to be used to purchase Chrome Books for use at the elementary schools.
•    Appointment of the following licensed teachers:  Mrs. Dorothy Hertel, Teacher of Grade 5 or DI at Jefferson Elementary School; Ms. Leah Yancey, Teacher of Grade 6 or DI at Park Elementary School; Mr. Ryan Zink, Teacher of Athletic Training at GB High School.
•    Appointment of the following long-term substitute teachers:  Mrs. Darla Edwards, Direct Instruction Tutor at Park Elementary School; Mrs. Sharon Reed, Success for All Tutor at Lincoln Elementary School.
•    Approved the sale of Van 203, a 2004 Ford 8-passenger Econoline, to Special Services.  The van will replace Van 597, which Thexton recommended be sold for salvage value, after a Kansas State Patrol safety check revealed the van was not even shop worthy.  The district will purchase two Ford Expeditions from Marmie Ford for $34,130 each, for a total of $68,260.
•    Approved the local consolidated plan allocation, which allows the district to fund four federal programs for the 2014-2015 school year.  These include Title IA, Improving Basic Programs, Title I C, Migrant Education, Title II A, Teacher Quality, and Title III, English Language Acquisition.  A total of $1,175,152 was allocated.
•    Approved new and revised policies suggested by the Kansas State Board of Education.  Members heard the first reading of these policies at the July meeting.
•    Agreed to continue meeting at 5 p.m., rather than changing to a later time.  The discussion came up during the board’s annual retreat in July.
•    Discussed licensed position changes.  Every position is filled at this time.
•    Board President Kevin Mauler reported on changes at the USD 428 Education Foundation.  The group met last week and began discussing ways to make the foundation more community driven and less district driven, he said.  This will place the board in a more supportive role, rather than a leadership role.  
The board entered a 15 minute executive session for the purpose of discussing non-elected personnel.  No action was taken.  
Reed invited Board members to attend the continental breakfast and school year kick-off at 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 13 a the GBHS Commons.  The next regular meeting of the board will be Monday, Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. at the district office.  
The first day of school for students is Aug. 18, which will be a full day for elementary, middle school and freshmen students.