The USD 428 Board of Education opened the 2013-2014 fiscal year with the nomination and voting in of Joyce Carter as president and Kevin Mauler as vice-president. Several appointments and designations were agreed upon by consent, and are discussed in length in the accompanying article.
However, a bit of unexpected news was announced during the Superintendent’s report.
“I have submitted my letter informing you that I intend to retire at the end of this year,” Vernon said. “ I did it this early so everyone could know and get started on the process.”
Kevin Mauler asked what had changed Vernon’s mind to retire in one year rather than in two.
“My trip in February when all my friends were retired and didn’t have to get back early, and I did,” he responded. Board members who had been part of the previous search process reviewed the time line with junior members. Dwight Young recommended using the services of KASB in locating qualified applicants. Joyce Carter stated she would contact KASB to get the process started. The district will post an opening in early Sept., with an application deadline sometime in November. Interviews will begin in December and run into January, and a decision should be made early on in 2014.
Young moved and the board approved thanking Vernon for his contributions to the district and with regret accepted his resignation.
Vernon gave the first reading of several BOE policy revisions and new policies. New this year are policies on memorial services and memorials, expense reimbursements and use of credit and debit cards, staff online activities, and bullying by parents
Revision 5 of the USD 428 Guidance for Communicating Electronically with Students gives teachers the green light for being able to accept students as friends on social media, something that has been an issue with faculty offspring attending school in the district. The previous policy made it wrong for a teacher to friend any student. Now, all communications should be transparent, accessible and Professional, otherwise known as the TAP test.
“It is important to understand that the method of communication is not the central issue,” the policy states. “In a modern world, communication occurs through a number of modes.” Particular attention will be paid to word choice, tone, grammar, and subject matter so that the correspondence models the standards and integrity of a District professional.
Several other policies to be revised included those on emergency safety interventions used by faculty and staff when dealing with violent or out of control students, nepotism, sexual harassment and bullying by students and staff. The BOE will take action on these policy changes at a subsequent meeting.
Curriculum Director John Popp summarized last school year’s Professional Development accomplishments. Among the entire faculty in the district, 165 college credits were approved, and over 13,255 PDC points were earned. There were 325 certified employee Independent Professional Development Plans’s on file. Each certified teacher is required to have an IPDP.
He also presented a list of conferences to which district personnel are sent each year. Some are required for programs and others for federal funding received by the district. Nearly all funds used to send personnel to these events are provided by federal funds.
Popp asked for approval to purchase 30 additional iPads for the middle school through the i3 Math Grant. This addition would bring each classroom teaching math up to 10 iPad Minis per classroom, or a total of 90 iPad Minis. He also asked for board approval to apply for a Cox Communications grant to purchase an iPad cart for use at the high school. Last year, the district received the same grant which allowed for the purchase of iPad carts for the middle school. The board approved both requests unanimously.
Other points of discussion included:
• Thexton gave an update on capital improvement projects around the district. The GBMS Gymnasium workers are building interior walls and spraying foam insulation. The all-purpose tornado safe room concrete ceiling will be poured later this week. Construction of a vinyl fence around the parking area and concrete sidewalk along Lakin St. at Washington School is complete. The north field at Lincoln Elementary School has been prepped and will soon receive new sod. A well will be drilled and sprinklers installed later this week. Concrete work at Riley Elementary near the basketball courts has also been completed.
• Thexton presented a budget study, outlining what the goals for the district are, and what the board should look ahead to propose for local option budget funding and what will be available from the State for base state aid. The board will meet next week to approve publication of the new budget.
• Popp reported the district is still searching for a math teacher for the high school, and in the interim is looking to filling the position with a part-time instructor and other district math instructors. The position came open at an unusually late time in the year, and it may be six months before a qualified teacher can be found.
“We need to do whatever we need to do to get somebody good in front of our kids,” Carter said. “We need to keep class numbers low, and it will be even more difficult to find someone that fits into Common Core.” Delete - Merge Upbodycopy
The USD 428 BOE will hold a special meeting on July 16 at noon to approve the publication of the 2013-2014 budget. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Aug. 12 at 5 p.m. , and the board will attend the Continental Breakfast and School Year Kick-off at 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 13 at the GBHS Commons. The first day of school for students is Aug. 19.