In other action, the USD 428 School Board:
• Heard a first reading of a policy governing electronic communications. The policy covers websites, e-mails, texting and social media sites.
• Heard an update on the district’s State Assessment Test results. The district as a whole made its No Child Left Behind-mandated adequate yearly progress targets. However, Park Elementary missed AYP in reading and the free-and-reduced lunch subgroup at Great Bend High School missed in math.
• Learned the Special Education Cooperative offices have been relocated from Shady Grove School, west of Great Bend, to Washington Early Childhood Center in town. The board approved selling the building if possible, or auctioning it off if necessary.
• Learned there were 28 new teachers in the district. There were 47 openings, but many were filled by teacher transfers.
• Learned the district has received 78 student transfer requests and “they’re still trickling in,” Superintendent Tom Vernon said. These come from parents in the district who want their children to attend a school other than the one closest to them or from parents outside of the district who want their kids to attend Great Bend schools. Of these, 19 were denied – eight out-of-district and 11 in-district. Of the requests, 15-20 were out-of-district. There are between 60-70 out-of-district students in USD 428 this year.
School Board to go paperless
BY DALE HOGG
In the near future, Unified School District 428 School Board members will no longer receive printed, hardcopy packets of meeting materials in the mail. Instead, they will view the agendas and related material on tablet computers.
The board approved Monday night purchasing seven new I Pad IIs at a cost of $500 each, one for use by each of the members. Before and during meetings, they will be able to access necessary documents, policy manuals and other attachments which now come in paper form and are delivered manually.
“We wanted to see how we could make meetings paperless,” district Business Director Dan Brungardt said. This issue has been discussed by the board for several years.
The change will stop the need for copying the packets and delivering them. The devices could pay for themselves in as little as two years in terms of hours spent and other expenses.
The tablets will utilize “cloud” computing with all the data stored in a remote server. It will be backed up on district servers as well, and members will have the ability to archive past meeting information on their pads in searchable form.
There will also be the possibility for e-mail and the option to attend a school board meeting from a remote location.
In addition, “we will be using technology we are talking about implementing for our students,” Brungardt said.
“I just want to get this activated as soon as possible,” said board President Dwight Young. Young has been a proponent of the paperless meeting.
The next couple of meetings will be hybrid traditional/paperless. Training will be provided to the board members.
Great Bend-based Unified School District 428 has been turned down for membership in Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League by the administrators of the so-called “super league,” the School Board learned Monday night.
Superintendent Tom Vernon told board members gathered at the District Education Center AVCTL officials responded to a letter sent by USD 428 requesting membership. “It was denied. They were not interested in expanding.”
Great Bend schools have difficulty filling athletic schedules, especially for high school football, due to a limited number of nearby same-sized schools. This prompted the request. Great Bend currently belongs to the Western Athletic Conference, which also includes Dodge City, Garden City, Liberal and Hays.
Activities Director David Meter has to go beyond the WAC to flesh out schedules in a state where fewer and fewer teams are willing to play the Great Bend Panthers, either because of the reputations for success or the distance other schools would have to travel.
One possibility was the AVCTL. It includes 24 schools, including those from Hutchinson, Salina, and Maize, down to Augusta, Andale, Clearwater and Rosehill. It is divided into four divisions based on school size.
Vernon has been told by Ark Valley administrators the bigger district is fearful that if it accepts Great Bend, “it could mean the demise of the WAC.” This could force the AVCTL to accept the other WAC schools.
Meter said Dodge City has already said it would follow Great Bend’s lead.
“They do understand our problem,” Meter said of the AVCTL. “They assured me they would work with us.”
However, the league as a whole has little say in scheduling. It would still be up to the individual schools whether or not they want to play Great Bend teams.
Meter said Great Bend has gone in search of other teams to join the WAC. “We’ve had this discussion for 10 years.”
Adding to the confusion is that final enrollment numbers won’t be known until September and some schools may change size-based classifications. Great Bend High School is a 5A school, the second largest classification, and will likely stay there since it is in the middle of the pack.
The largest 32 schools are lumped together in 6A and the second largest 32 as 5A. From there on down, 4A through 2A are in groups of 64 schools.
Any change wouldn’t go into effect until the 2012-13 school year.