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Gym to get handicapped seating
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Straub named principal at Lincoln


The Unified School District 428 School Board didn’t have to look far to find a new principal for Lincoln Elementary School.
At its monthly luncheon meeting held Tuesday afternoon at Lincoln, board members appointed Misty Straub to the post. She replaces Laura Blevins who is retiring.
Straub is a Great Bend native, a 1994 graduate of Great Bend High School and a former student at Lincoln. Her mother, Loretta Gray, is a custodian at Great Bend Middle School.
“We feel fortunate she applied again this year,” said Superintendent Tom Vernon. Straub is moving from Emporia where she serves as curriculum director at William Allen White Elementary School. She has applied for a job in the Great Bend district last year.
Meanwhile, Blevins said farewell. “Thank you for letting me serve the district,” Blevins told the board. She has been in the Great Bend school system for nine years.
At the regular meeting March 12, the Board learned there were eight candidates for the Lincoln job, four from within the district and four from outside. There were over 20 applications. The last of the eight interviews were completed a couple weeks ago. 
Lincoln, located at the corner of Broadway and Patton Road, handles grades kindergarten through sixth. The enrollment is 312 and the average class size ranges from 18-27, with the biggest classes at the third-grade level.
“We are really proud of her,” Loretta Gray said of her daughter. Misty Straub’s husband Mark is also a GBHS grad.

It’s been an issue for several years.
The original bleachers in the main gymnasium at Great Bend High School dating to the building’s construction in 1951 don’t make accommodations for those with handicaps. That is about to change, the Unified School District 428 School Board decided Tuesday afternoon.
The Board, gathering at Lincoln Elementary School for its monthly luncheon meeting, approved seeking bids for handicapped seating. The current seats have only been modified periodically since the school was built.
The bleachers at GBHS’s Memorial Stadium were updated last year and include new seating for the handicapped, said district Business Manager Dan Brungardt. “The district has received numerous positive comments about the improvements.”
 However, there is no such designated seating at the gym. “Making improvements now is the right thing to do,” he said.
The district looked at modifying the existing bleachers, but it was not possible, he said. They have been modified several times throughout the years to make various changes.
 “Handicapped accessible seating is becoming more important than ever because of changes in the population,” Brungardt said.
The cost could be as high as $75,000, but would probably be less, said district Business Manager Dan Brungardt.
In addition, the Board gave the nod to seek a price for adding a second gym to Great Bend Middle School. The current facility is small and outdated, Brungardt said.
Another gym was included in a district-wide bond issue that failed in the mid 1990s, but was excluded from a trimmed-down issue that passed a year later. With the possible addition of competitive seventh-grade sports, an upgrade will be necessary since the existing space is already inadequate, Brungardt said.
A possible location would be to the west of the current gym, incorporating what was the old boiler room which is now being used for storage. This would have limited impact of parking.
However, Brungardt stressed, this was only in the preliminary stages.
 In other business, the board:
• Approved the retirement of Barbara Gilmore, media specialist at Jefferson and Lincoln Elementary Schools, and Ruth Heinrichs, director of curriculum and instruction, and the resignations of Stephanie Maier, Great Bend High School science teacher, Carol Selle, GBHS art teacher, and Lucas Stoelting, Park Elementary fourth-grade teacher
• Approved hiring Malia Divilbiss as a music teacher of Park Elementary.
• Approved applying for a $36,000 Clean Diesel Program grant from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that would have to be used towards purchasing a new, replacement school bus. A new bus would only be purchased if the grant is received. The total cost would be about $80,000. One grant is being awarded in each of the KDHE’s six regions.
• Heard Lincoln Principal Laura Blevins share information regarding the academic programs and the school improvement efforts at the school. She told about how the teaching staff is broken into four committees, each charged with a different facet of helping students succeed. This “Success Network” springs from the school’s Success for All reading program and has the goal of getting all students reading at their proper grade level.