Soon, visitors to the USD 428 website will notice some positive changes. The USD 428 Board of Education voted to accept a bid by SOCS to host the district’s website, despite the fact it was not the lowest bid. Dan Brungardt, assistant superintendent, said two features the company could provide caused the administration to recommend the company. First, they offer a mobile application, and second, they offer templates, so each school will be able to maintain their own sites.
“With cell phones becoming more and more prevalent, we felt having the mobile application was very important,” Brungardt said.
The current website was built and is maintained by Jan Frenzl, USD 428 IT director. The change will free her up for other projects, as she is currently solely responsible for updates and maintenance of the site. It will also provide teachers in the district to have their own easily maintained websites. Calendars can be customized by school, by sport or activity, or by class too, which will allow parents and students to print off what they need.
“Our goal was to find a web page that is very easy to maintain, so more than one person can manage it,” Brungardt said. “There are 120 other school entities in Kansas using it already.”
Another technology change will be beta tested by teachers at GBMS and GBHS in the coming months. If all goes well, students will soon have access to classroom projects when they’re away from school. The district is in the process of testing Google Drive as an alternative to the closed network currently used by both the middle and high school.
“Currently student data is stored on the P Drive on the district’s server and is accessible by students only when they are at school,” Brungardt explained. “Utilizing Google, students’ school lessons will be on the web, with access at school and also on a home or library computer.”
Each student will have an email address and 5 gigabytes of data in the “cloud“. This is a term used to describe web-based storage, as opposed to data storage on a hard drive. This allows the student to access the data on any device with internet capabilities, including a personal computer, tablet or cell phone. Google offers access for free.
The Drive also has presentation, spreadsheet, form, and drawing programs. And, students can opt to allow a teacher or group partner to “share” a document through the cloud, which solves the problem of the proverbial dog eating the homework, board member Kevin Mauler pointed out.
Brungardt will update the board at further meetings about the findings of the beta test team.
Brungardt also gave an update on progress with the Middle School Gym project. The drilling team has placed piers, some as deep as 40 feet where the tornado shelter will be located.
“We are waiting on the shop drawings from the company,” he said. “Once they are approved, we will order the rebar and begin pouring the foundation.”
The project is on schedule, but rain may push things back a little. However, rain days are built into the contract, he said.
Other items acted upon and discussed include:
* The board voted in favor of a GBHS community service day sponsored by the student council. Students will be given an opportunity to volunteer to spend the day performing service projects around the community or at the high school campus on April 24. All students will attend a roll call in the morning. Students volunteering will then report to teacher supervisors for their project, and all students will again attend roll call at the end of the day. Students who choose not to volunteer will spend the day in study hall under teacher supervision.
* Board member Larry Kutina recognized Riley elementary school teacher Mary Rossman for her attention to the Martin Luther King holiday in her second grade class, as reported in the Tribune.
* Voted in favor of revising the district’s prescription medication approval procedures as recommended by the district Insurance Committee. Now, if a prescription will cost $1,000 or more, Prescription Network of Kansas will determine if there is a generic equivalent that can be prescribed instead. If not, the prescription will be approved. If it is a non-formulary prescription, it may be denied. The proposal was discussed during the January meeting, and tabled for further discussion. Board members Larry Kutina and Dwight Young voted against, citing concerns that reluctance that some prescriptions would be considered non-formulary because definitions had not yet been published, even though FDA approval for a new application for a drug may already have been obtained.
* Approved early Dismissal at GBHS on November 22. GBHS will host the Western Kansas Orchestra Festival, with the festival beginning at 1:00 p.m., on November 22. The administration requests BOE approval for an 11:30 a.m., dismissal of classes on November 22 at only Great Bend High School. Over 500 participants will take part, and classrooms will need to be utilized for practice.
* Approved the supplemental salary committee’s recommendations for adding coaching positions at GBMS. Brungardt presented recommendations from the committee for coaching positions relating to 7th grade athletics at Great Bend Middle School for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. The plan calls for the addition of three football coaches, two volleyball, two each for boys and girls basketball, one cross country, two boys and girls soccer and one boys and girls tennis.
* Curriculum director John Popp gave an ACT update. He presented statistics showing where students in eighth grade stand in terms of college and career readiness after taking the EXPLORE test, and compared it to similar data for sophomores who took the PLAN test and juniors and seniors taking the ACT test. The data showed that interventions taken this fall to offer more opportunities for test preparation for the ACT appear to be helping, Popp said.
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Superintendent Tom Vernon presented four possible calendars for the 2013-2014 school year put forward by the Calendar Committee.
“The calendar is difficult this coming year because December and May are problematic,” he said. “Christmas and new years are in the middle of the week. May is because Memorial day is on the 26th. If you want to end before Memorial day, you have to start earlier in August.”
While three options have start dates in the second week of August, and end dates in the final week of May, one possibility offers a slightly later start date, but a shortened spring break.
The USD 428 website has posted a link to a survey which provides the options for the public to view and comment on.
“This is not a vote, but is a chance to offer opinions,” Vernon said. The board will vote on the calendar at the regular March BOE meeting.
Vernon also presented an email from the Kansas State High School Activities Association, informing the board of a request to add more board members to the association. No action was required.
The BOE entered into three different executive sessions. The first, for the discussion of negotiations, for five minutes. The second, for the discussion of matters relating to security, for 15 minutes, and the final session, for the discussion of non-elected personnel, for 30 minutes. There was no action taken following the sessions.
The BOE will meet again at noon on Tuesday, February 26, at Great Bend High School. Some members will also attend a Governmental Relations Seminar at noon on February 13 and 14 in Topeka.