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USD 428 votes to reduce Parents as Teachers staff
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For about 10 years, Unified School District 428 in Great Bend has shared a Parents as Teachers grant with USD 355 in Ellinwood.
The Great Bend district employed two classified personnel to handle the program, which is a parental education program serving families from pregnancy until the child turns 3. One of these employees works exclusively in Great Bend while the other works between the school systems.
The PAT effort originally served 67 families in Great Bend and 12 in Ellinwood. However, “the number of families in Ellinwood has dropped,” said USD 428 Business Director Dan Brungardt. This year, it is down to four families in Ellinwood.
So, the USD 428 School Board voted Monday night to reduce the PAT staff to one employee. This will save the district about $12,000.
“The administration has discussed this with the Ellinwood superintendent,” Brungardt told the board, meeting at the District Education Center. “If they would like to continue the program they could apply themselves. There has been some discussion of this occurring.”
Parents as Teachers is partially funded by a state grant, and over the past five years the state match has been between $36,000 and $44,000. Great Bend kicks in about $24,000 and Ellinwood between $3,000 and $4,000.
The employee who works with in Ellinwood could continue there should the district opt to take part in PAT on its own. If not, the employee would be released by USD 428 on June 30 and encouraged to apply for any other jobs in the district for which he or she is qualified.
Those working in PAT are not certified teachers. They were, however, trained for the program by the state.
According to Brungardt,  PAT provides parents with support and information for their developing child. “It is designed to foster strong, loving relationships between parents and their children.”
In other action, the USD 428 School Board:
• Voted to spend an additional $4,546 to install thermostats and software at Great Bend Middle School, that would allow for the heating and air conditioning units to be controlled and tracked from a central computer. At its last meeting, the board approved spending $14,500 to install such updates at Riley Elementary School and Great Bend High School, but the company doing the work offered to add GBMS to the project for what amounts to a $6,700 savings over waiting to install the updates at the middle school later.
• Learned that the district is about 80-85 percent done with state assessment testing and no score numbers are available.
• Learned the district has 14 full pallets of white copy paper left, which is twice is much as what is normally remaining. This indicates, Brungardt said, how much the district has saved by switching to electronic documents and making fewer copies. Each pallet costs about $1,090.
• Heard an update on steps being taken by teachers and administrators to improve ACT test scores.
• Heard updates on other school improvement  projects, such as new doors and roofing.
• Heard a committee has been formed to look at establishing a financial literacy class at GBHS. Educators are looking at such issues as should the class be mandatory, at what grade level would it be offered and if it would be a semester or full-year class.
• Approved student, teacher, activities and athletic handbooks for the 2011-2012 school year.
• Approved membership dues for the Kansas Association of School Boards for $10,848 (up $9 from last year) and an additional $1,400 for membership in the association’s legal assistance fund.
• Approved re-upping with Intrust Bank for the district’s only credit card. The card, which is paid in full each month, is used for such things as making hotel reservations and other specialized purchases.
• Heard a report from board member Joyce Carter, who wanted the board to look at ways to improve learning district-wide.
• Approved hiring Christopher Orlando as a social studies teacher at GBMS, and approved the resignations of Shelby Huddleston as orchestra director and assistant high school band director, Emma Smith as kindergarten teacher at Lincoln Elementary and coach, and Judy Sneath as Barton County Special Services special education teacher.