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Calendar Questions
USD 428 BOE looks to year two of day-length experiment
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Monday night’s USD 428 Board of Education meeting started with a nod of appreciation to volunteers.
“We appreciate the many people who generously volunteer their time in various capacities in our schools,” said board president Joyce Carter.  “It’s become a tradition to say thanks to all who volunteer their time for the benefit of students.  We’ve estimated this effort amounts to 163 hours each week across the district.”
It was also time to recognize board members who took part in the KASB 2012-2013 Boardsmanship Academy.  Certificates of merit were presented to Doug Bender, Kevin Mauler, Cheryl Rugan and Dwight Young.  

Calendar 2014-2015
For the past few months, Superintendent Tom Vernon has been working with the USD 428 Calendar Committee on six options for the 2014-2015 school year.   He presented the options to the board for their consideration.  
This time last year, because of the way holidays fell on the calendar, the board agreed to try adding 10 minutes to each school day in order to fit the same number of instructional hours into a 184 day school year as there had been in a 188 school year.  It was time to consider the results of that experiment.  
“Overall, the biggest benefit to the 184 day school year is that teachers and parents have shown tremendous support for it,” Vernon said.
But the goal of the board is to provide the best possible education for the students of the district, and long-time board member Dwight Young warned the board that if they continued to move in the direction that they were, and accepted the 184 day school year without being able to quantify the benefits, they would be fighting an uphill battle to ever get those days back in the future.  
Ultimately, the board agreed to extend the experiment another year to be able to accumulate more data before deciding what option is best.  
The calendar options presented included one for a 188 day school year, and five for a 184 school year.  The options varied in start and end dates, the inclusion or exclusion of Presidents Day as a day off, and the start and ending dates of winter and spring breaks.  Ultimately, the committee agreed that Labor Day should be a day off and that school should end by Memorial Day.
Some options had school start at the beginning of the week, but elementary school teachers opined that younger students adjust better to the return to school if the start day is in the middle of the week.  One thing has been crystal clear to the committee—every gain in one area requires a sacrifice in another area, and there is no perfect calendar.  
With the direction from the board to continue with a 184 day school year for another year, Vernon said the committee would have something to present to the board and patrons soon, and hoped the board would be able to approve an option by the April meeting.  
The question of the value of the extra 10 minutes per day varied, with the most value seen at the middle school level.
“The middle school uses those 10 minutes in advisory, where they do lots of things,” USD 428 Director of Curriculum John Popp said.  “They go over homework, take care of Panther Pride activities, say the Pledge of Allegiance.  It frees up the rest of the day to do the things they need to do.  All in all, it’s a big benefit to the middle school.”
And Vernon added that the extra 10 minutes had made it possible for sixth graders to be able to attend band and orchestra classes every day instead of every other day or some other schedule.  Other elementary grades had less quantifiable results, but reported having a little more time to teach science or math.  Special Education students who are bussed often arrive a little late and leave a little early, so the extra 10 minutes meant more instruction time for them.  
But at the high school level, all were in agreement that the 10 minutes, divided among seven periods, had no real value at all.  
“If it’s not worse, it means it’s the same,” Rugan said. “Then we have to look at all the altruistic benefits, and they aren’t costing the district anything.”  

Policy changes and surveillance footage
Superintendent Vernon introduced streamlined changes to several board policies that dealt with a variety of areas including personnel, administration, emergency safety interventions, control of students, drug free workplace, Title I, and how surveillance data is used.  
Surveillance cameras have been authorized for some time now.  According to Vernon, the devices continue to record until the memory is used up, and then they begin to record over the old data.  The policy change clarifies that if footage includes a recognizable face of a student, that data becomes a part of the student’s record, and may be subject to subpoena by law enforcement as other information in a student’s record may be.  Vernon added for clarification that data is not kept permanently.
“Data is erased tat the end of the year, and every student starts the new fresh,” he said.
Board members had been given the strike-through policies with proposed changes a month earlier.   The board, led by Kevin Mauler, approved  the changes unanimously.   
Mauler moved to accept board policy changes.  They have had them and have been reading them for the past month, so they moved to accept them and forego the option to revisit in a month.

Other discussions and actions taken during the February USD 428 BOE meeting included:

•    Approved the Capital Outlay Resolution allowing the district to authorize a mill levy not to exceed 4.000 mills.  The resolution will be in effect for the next five years.  It was introduced at the November BOE meeting, and was published in the Great Bend Tribune on Nov. 12 and Dec. 18 with no protests registered during the 40-day period.  
•    Approval a contribution from the Zinn Memorial Tournament of $750, $250 of which would be designated for the cheerleading program and $500 for the golf program
•    Approved the contributions raised from GBHS organizations Student Council, KAYS, and Dance Line which are sponsoring the upcoming Pink Out Night on Feb. 28 at the Great Bend vs. Hays basketball game.  All proceeds will go to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund founded in 2007.  The organization was named after former North Carolina State University head women’s basketball coach Kay Yow, and fundraising supports research, provides grants and drives inspiration in the fight against women’s cancers.  
•    Activities Director David Meter received board approval for related contribution from A440 Music, American State Bank, Comfort Pro, First United Methodist Church, Great Bend Regional Hospital, Hiss Dairy, Mitchell K. Haney and Assoc., Scott’s Welding Service, Smith Supply, Sutherlands, The Rack and Venture Corporation.
•    Approved the resignation of Riley Elementary SFA teacher Renee Button at the end of the 2014 school year.  
•    Thexton announced the district would hold a pre-bid meeting at Riley Elementary School Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. for the heating and air conditioning projects approved by the board.  This will give people a chance to walk through and ask questions.  The bid process is currently open, and on Feb. 18, the bids will be opened.   
•    Approved Popp’s request to continue researching the pros and cons of involving the district in the Reading Roadmap grant proposed by Governor Sam Brownback.
•    Popp also presented an updated Student Exit Outcomes document for the board to consider over the next month.  
•    Approved the district’s continuing participation in the federal e-rate funding requests for the Universal Service Administrative Company.  Discounts were estimated to be around 80 percent per year.  
The board entered into an executive session for 15 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel. No action was taken.
The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 10, 2014.  A special meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13 at ll p.m., at the GBMS gymnasium following the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting at that venue at 10:15 a.m.