LARNED — Marcia Giessel, Fort Larned USD 495 school board president, called the special meeting Jan. 7 to order at 7 p.m.
Board members present were Marcia Giessel, Jay Haremza, Brenda Hagerman, Sharon Arnold, Kevin Reece, June Barger, Sharon Lessard; and Jon Flint, superintendent, Phil Martin, board attorney; Tiffany Burris, board clerk. Board member June Barger was absent.
Jon Flint, superintendent, opened the meeting with a welcome to the guests. A handout was made available to those in attendance which outlined the questions the citizen committee had presented to the board at the Dec. 10, 2012 board meeting.
Jon Flint explained the contingency and capital outlay budget to the forum. The contingency budget is there in case the state of Kansas misses making payment to the district. In the case that payment from the state is missed, the district is still able to make payroll. This does happen at times. The capital outlay fund is used only for major purchases, repairs, and renovations. The food service budget has three months of operating expenses in it at all times to ensure meals for our students.
The board shared with the group of citizens that they too are concerned with keeping the mill levy down. They do not want taxes any higher than they need to be either.
Sharon Lessard expressed her belief in Fort Larned’s educational system in the district and the fact that the board is always here to hear concerns and to answer questions.
Jay Haremza further explained the fact that the district’s largest employer is the State Hospital. The hospital pays taxes on leased farm ground only. This situation is different than many of the surrounding communities. He further added that the hospital is a plus for the district because of the families and students it brings into the district schools.
The subject of bussing was discussed further also.
Richard Fairchild, USD 495 transportation director, shared with the group the importance of busing our students and the funding the district receives for the service. He further explained the school boundary lines and the fact that buses go into Barton County due to where the lines are drawn. Fairchild shared that the Special Education department busses many students and they strive for busing these students in the LRE (Least Restricted Environment).
The buses sometimes appear empty, when in fact they are on their way to a route or they may have preschool students in them in car seats that are not visible. He said the cost of maintaining a small bus versus a large bus is comparable. The advantage of a larger bus is a safety issue also. The larger bus protects the passengers more effectively than the smaller bus.
The goal of the transportation department is first and foremost to keep our students safe.
Fairchild said the district’s preschool program has grown by leaps and bounds over the past years. The district has gone from busing around six preschool students to close to 72. He said the district is doing a good job drawing attention to these preschool students and providing early intervention in their education. The district has several special education preschools and has added and At Risk Preschool also.
School safety was brought up to the board and they were asked what measures the district has in place. The district has current crisis teams in place and preventative measures are taken every day. The high school and middle schools both have cameras on their campuses.
When asked if there had been talk of arming teachers, Marcia Giessel answered that no they had not considered that, but the board and school officials are looking at the safety guidelines and crisis procedures that each building has in place.
The handout that was available at the meeting has been attached to the minutes.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.