A radio tower atop St. Rose Ambulatory and Surgery Center will be the new home of a repeater for the Unified School District 428’s in-district radios, the School Board decided Tuesday.
The board met in a special luncheon meeting at Park Elementary School which also included a report of educational programs at the school.
Formerly the district used the City of Great Bend’s 30-year-old, 120-foot tower near the police station downtown as a repeater. However, last September, that tower was disassembled and relocated, and all the city’s antennas and transmitters were moved to a new, grant-funded tower at Great Bend Fire Station No. 2 west of town.
This location won’t work for the district since it not centrally located.
“Basically, they are doing us a favor,” district Business Director Dan Brungardt said of the new contract. The agreement has no expiration date and the only expense to the district is the nominal cost of electricity to run the transmitter.
Custodial and maintenance workers, as well as administrators, use two-way radios, Brungardt said. The St. Rose location will be even more centrally located than the city tower was, making for easier communications.
“Since the first day of school, we’ve worked really hard on establishing an identity,” Park Principal Phil Heeke said of efforts at the school to foster the use of the Tiger mascot. “We want to promote the idea of being an awesome Park School Tiger.”
Teachers and administrators do this by recognizing student successes in and out of school. They also have contests between classes and are planning a fitness week.
Meshing with this is the Direct Instruction program at Park, Heeke said. Now in its 11th year at the school, DI involves teaching students in groups based on their proficiency, not their grade in language, math, reading and spelling. In other words, there are students of different ages learning together.
The kids are monitored weekly for their progress. “Some move faster than others,” the principal said.
“We hold them to a high level,” Heeke said. In order for a student to move up, they must reach “mastery” which is scoring 90 percent or better.
“The goal is to get them all to grade level by the time they leave Park,” Heeke said. But, students who excel are in books beyond the sixth-grade level.
Most kindergartners are reading by Christmas, and doing addition and subtraction before the school year is over.
But, looking at the school’s Integrated Improvement Plan, Heeke said there are challenges. “Demographics are changing at Park.”
Over the past three to five years, the number of students at the school has increased 17 percent to 138 in K-6. In that same time, the number of students on free or reduced lunches has jumped over 50 percent, the white population has decreased 12 percent and the Hispanic population has increased 70 percent (a number that is projected to increase more).
“We have to find out what we can do to meet those needs,” Heeke said.
The DI system, since it is more individualized and emphasizes language, works well with the influx of students who struggle with English, he said.