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STEM training coming to USD 428
Admin bldg
USD 428 district office - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Randy Wetzel, Great Bend High School assistant principal, presented a proposal to the USD 428 Board of Education that will give students a leg up on pursuing careers in STEM fields.  STEM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  
“Companies like General Motors report they need more employees with this training, and are having to go overseas to find workers,” he said.  
‘Project Lead the Way’ prepares students for a life in these technical fields.  Wetzel, with the help of Great Bend Middle School Principal David Reiser, has been writing a grant seeking funding to implement the program, which would include an introductory level taught at the middle school level, and technical and application levels at the high school levels in what would become a career pathway to engineering.  This would be similar to the career pathway to health sciences that the district implemented last year and has seen a great deal of interest.
“I’m very excited about the STEM training,” Superintendent Brad Reed said.  “Since 1982, we’ve been pushing this type of curriculum, trying to catch up with the rest of the world.”  He added that as these kinds of careers increase, if the district doesn’t get into these pathways, “...we’re putting our kids behind the eight ball.”
Board member Dwight Young asked if the program had a good track record bringing girls into STEM studies.  Reiser said the introductory level taught at the middle school would become one of the wheel classes, so all students would be introduced to them.  
Wetzel added that last year, he and the technical arts teachers in the district visited schools in Newton that had already implemented the program, and many girls were involved in and excited about the prospect of careers in those fields.
“When they learn that there are several different types of careers in those fields, they get excited about them.” he said.  
Board president Kevin Mauler led the board in approving the request.
“Looks like we got some work for you to do,” he added.  

Not again
During the superintendent’s report, Reed presented in brief the latest proposal by the Kansas Association of School Boards for school funding.  Pointing out that USD 428 is part of the Schools for Fair Funding group that sued the state to provide more equitable school funding, he expressed dismay at the committee’s proposal to once again sue the state with a demand that funding increases be tied to the consumer price index.  He likened it to a baseball game.
“It’s the bottom of the 8th and we’re up one run, and it befuddles me that KASB is willing to wipe out everything and start the game over,” he said.  He suggested board members contact the KASB and express their opinions on the proposal.  Young, who has served on the legislative committee in the past, suggested board members make a point of attending the next regional meeting, and board member Wade Babcock agreed, with both requesting they be informed of when and where it will be held.  The proposal will be discussed at regional meetings throughout the state before being voted on at the December convention.   

‘Supe Talk’
Reed also reported on video series he is collaborating with students on called “SupeTalk.”  The three to five-minute videos not only provide students in Dan Heath’s video digital production class at the high school hands on experience producing a news piece, it also provides the community positive highlights on people, processes, and projects in the district.  The videos are posted on the district website.  Two episodes have been released so far, and a third will be filmed and produced Friday.  

Other items discussed and voted on included:

* Awarded Bryan Scott, Riley Elementary School physical education teacher, grounds person, and co-leader of the Community Connections Team, this month’s R.O.S.E. Award for outstanding service in his many roles in the district,  The award Recognizes Outstanding Support of Education.
* Recognized Riley Elementary School fourth grade teacher Tammy Cale for having been named a Horizon Award nominee,for excellence as a first year teacher.
* Approved a request by Susan Stambaugh, Great Bend High School vocal music teacher, for the A Capella Choir to travel to Washington, D.C., over spring break.
* Khris Thexton provided an update on the bus fleet.  Two coach buses, put into service by the district in 2006, may need to be replaced toward the end of the year, he said, as it is getting increasingly difficult to find replacement parts for them, and those that can be found are increasingly costly.  Also, two Thomas 46 passenger school buses will be first up for replacement.  Reed added that the administration would come back in the spring with a spreadsheet and a plan.
* Energy Manager Greg Wells gave an overview of the district’s energy conservation program, showing savings over a 10 year period.
* Upon request of the administration, the board approved contributions totaling $10,100 to Jefferson Elementary School for the purchase of an exterior marquis provided by several businesses and private individuals.
* The district will advertise in the Tribune for candidates willing to fill a position coming open on the Great Bend Recreation Commission board as of Jan. 1, 2015.  Responses will be considered an a decision will be made during the regular meeting scheduled for Nov. 10 at the district office.
* The board accepted the resignation of Ms. Tammy Sturn, special education teacher at Great Bend High School, effective at the end of the school year.
* Appointed Kevin Mauler as the delegate for the KASB convention in December.  Cheryl Rugan will be the alternate.
* Voted to have Cheryl Rugan replace Dwight Young on the IBB membership team, at his request.
* Kevin Mauler reported that the 2014-2015 application for Title VI B pass-through funds and for ECH funds will be available to the public to view at Special Education Director Christy Gerdes office for the next 20 days.  The Title VI B budget, at $945,656, is $4,201 lower than the prior year, and the ECH budget, at $39,254, is two-dollars lower than the previous year.
*Director of Curriculum, John Popp, presented the district support plan for “on watch” schools.

The board moved into executive session for 20 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel.  No action was taken, and following approval of the consent agenda, the meeting was adjourned.  
Board members will be in attendance at the KASB school finance meeting in Topeka on Oct. 22 and at the USD 428 Curriculum Day on Oct. 27.  A noon meeting will be held on Oct. 30 at Riley Elementary School, and the next regular meeting will be at 5 p.m., Nov. 10 at the district office.