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USD 428 Reed: 2014-2015 off to a good start

Superintendent Brad Reed visited each school in the district on the first day of school this year and was impressed, he told USD 428 Board of Education members Monday.
“Teachers were engaged with kids, the buildings and grounds looked good, lunch went well,” he said.  “That set a tone for the rest of the year.”
The 2014 Teachers of the year, Shelly Post and Kayci Scott, attended the Teacher of the Year banquet, accompanied by GBHS Assistant Principal Randy Wetzel, filling in for Reed.  Open houses, which were held within the first two weeks of school, were also well attended, he reported.  

Director of Curriculum John Popp said the teacher mentor and ambassador program continues to be well worth the cost the district incurs to support it.  This year, there are 24 first year teachers and 19 second year teachers, and each is assigned a mentor.  There are also 12 teachers who, while experienced, are new to the district, and each is assigned an ambassador.  Mentors and ambassadors are teachers who are compensated for their service in the program.

Assessing frustration
Popp explained that while the district took part in Kansas state assessments last school year, the state has decided to throw out the test because of several problems, including an instance of the text being hacked by outside entities.  Moving forward, the district is beginning to implement Aimsweb testing, a national assessment program, and will implement MTSS to monitor student progress in subject areas this year.  The state will also provide an assessment test, which has had many of last year’s problems addressed.  It will be two years, however, before the district will be able to have enough data to definitively show progress.  Principals at Park and Riley Elementaries are particularly frustrated because they are confident measures taken to improve student performance are working, but they will not be able to provide verifiable evidence until there is enough usable data collected, Popp said.  In the mean time, they presented a list of measures they are taking for the board to review.  

Reed hosted Coach Tony Crough at the Great Bend Rotary Club meeting Monday at noon.  Crough spoke to the group about the high school football program and his goals for the team.
“Everyone wants to win, but wins and losses are not as important to me as having a quality person working with our students, and that’s what I see in Coach Crough,” Reed said.  The GBHS varsity football team will play against Hays at home on Friday, under the coaching of former GBHS football coach  Bo Black.  
According to Director of Business Operations Khris Thexton, the new concession stand on the east side of the GBHS Memorial Stadium will be ready for use for the game.  In an update on capital projects, Thexton reported drywall was being applied inside the stand, and while every detail won’t be complete by Friday, the stand looks very good.  
The high school will hold Homecoming activities on Sept. 26, and schools will be dismissed at 2:30 p.m. so students can attend the homecoming parade along Main Street which begins at 3 p.m.

Other discussion and motions passed included:

*    Approved  2014-2015 site council slates for Eisenhower, Jefferson, Lincoln, Park and Riley Elementary Schools, Great Bend Middle School and Great Bend High School.

*    Approved the Title VI, Part B, Subpart 2 Rural and Low-Income School program for funds totaling $44,492.00.  Thexton said funds could be used to provide signing bonuses and other financial incentives to recruit and retain teachers, to provide professional development training for teachers, to purchase software and hardware, to encourage parental involvement, to promote safe and drug-free schools, to provide services to the disadvantaged under Title I, and Title III English Language Acquisition.  The last time the district received this, laptop carts were purchased.

*    Khris Thexton updated the board on progress of the HVAC project at Riley Elementary School and the GBHS Memorial Stadium concession stand.  Riley, all systems are working as they are supposed to.  You can definitely tell the difference between the portion of the building with the old system compared to the new system.  All work is complete.  Some small sections of carpet will be replaced soon.  Everyone is extremely happy at Riley and they greatly appreciate that it’s been done.

*    Thexton informed the board the GBMS Booster Club request approval for a September 2014 fundraiser which will likely involve catalog sales of food products.  Items average about $16 a piece, and kids will be asked to sell three items in order to attend a dance in the near future.  Babcock said a few years ago it was brought up that there was an issue with kids being required to sell items to be able to attend the dance.  Booster club fund is down to around $1,000.  They are selling t-shirts and sweatshirts right now too.  This is an additional dance, not in place of a school dance.  The board approved the motion to give permission to have a fundraiser, and Reed said they would make sure it is equitable.

*    Approved a change to the district’s capital outlay resolution.  New 2014 KSDE requirements to either specify an amount and time period for a mill levy, or provide a wording that indicates a permanent annual tax levy with no expiration date.  The new capital outlay resolution will now read “ “school board shall be authorized to make a continuous and permanent annual tax levy in an amount not to exceed 8.000 mills.”  This does not mean the district must levy that much, Thexton emphasized.  A big benefit to the district is now it will be able to use funds for additional items, including computer software, automobile filters, repairs to equipment and vehicles, tires, salary for maintenance, custodial, grounds employees, student sport and activity uniforms and upkeep of grounds.  “This gives more flexibility, more options, and allows you to keep the mill levy flat after the bond issues are paid off in a few years,” said Reed.  The resolution in its entirety will be published in the Great Bend Tribune twice over a 14-day period prior to the new resolution going into effect.  “This is one of the things legislators have done for us to give us more flexibility,” Mauler said.

The board entered into a 20 minute executive session for the discussion of non elected personnel. No action was taken.

The USD 428 BOE will meet on Sept. 25 at noon at Jefferson Elementary School.  Select members may attend the KASB Fall Education Summit Oct. 8 at Junction City.  The next regular board meeting will be Oct. 13 at the district office.