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Pepsi wins USD 428 beverage contract
Students with flu must stay home longer
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On April 1, Great Bend USD 428 welcomed Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson, second from left, to tour the district. Stops on the tour included Amber Lucchesi’s Modeling & Robotics Classroom. Pictured here, guests and administration observe students collaborating on a robot pull-toy build.

Pepsi is more than OK with Great Bend USD 428. The board of education on Monday approved a five-year beverage contract with the soft drink distributor that will result in a benefit of $28,500 to the district.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said USD 428’s contract with Coca Cola concluded in March and the administration requested proposals from both companies. The benefits proposed by Coke were about $12,000 less than Pepsi’s offer. Benefits include a vending commission, rebates on cases of carbonated drinks and percentage of concessions. In both proposals, the vending rate will increase by 25 cents in year three.

Both companies provide and service their equipment, provide low-calorie drinks and bottled water for the cafeteria and provide a sideline package for sports drinks (Gatorade, in Pepsi’s case, vs PowerAde from Coke).

The board also approved a memorandum of understanding with the City of Great Bend, to share the cost for crossing guard personnel at the elementary schools. Salaries have cost the city about $30,000 a year in the past and now the district will pay half of that, Thexton said.

“They’re still willing to provide the training and equipment,” he said. Building principals will now be in charge of hiring crossing guards and the guards will be paid by the district rather than the city.

New flu policy

The board also heard presentations on next year’s handbooks for students, teachers, athletics and activities. One change is that anyone who is diagnosed with influenza will be required to stay home seven days, instead of the previous five days.

Great Bend Middle School Principal David Reiser said new wording in the middle school handbook will address vaping and electronic smoking devices, clarifying they are not allowed. This is not actually a policy change but Reiser said it has been an issue at the school.

The GBMS handbook will also note the addition of cheerleading at both fall and winter sports. The program was added last fall and dozens of students have gone out for cheerleading. Reiser said the program has had a positive impact on the entire school. “It's really changed the building atmosphere,” he said.

Great Bend High School Principal Tim Friess said one change to the GBHS handbook clarifies that students must wear school IDs at all times and they must be visible. The cost to replace a lost ID card is $2. Now that wearing the IDs is required, the money raised by making replacements has increased from about $100 a year to over $2,000. The good news is, profits from ID sales goes into student recognition programs, Friess said.

Handbooks were presented for “first readings” Monday and will come to the board for approval in May.

The board also had a first reading of the district’s Healthy Living Standards, which Assistant Superintendent John Popp said had not been updated for some time.

Personnel report

The board approved teacher appointments for Shea Koerner, seventh-grade social studies teacher at GBMS, and Molly Brown, fourth-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School.

The board approved the retirement of Nancy McAllister, teacher of special education at Ellinwood High School.

The board also approved the following teacher resignations:

- Kylee McDonald, special education coordinator for Barton County Special Services

- Brock Funke, technology coach at Park Elementary School

- Katrina Aumiller, music teacher at Jefferson Elementary School

- Jason Drouillard, English teacher at GBMS

- Matt Rorabaugh, seventh-grade social studies teacher at GBMS

Meeting at a glance:

Here’s a quick look at Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting:

• Following final selection by the Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominating Committee, Jenna Dreiling, first-grade teacher at Riley Elementary, and Courtnea Wilson, eighth-grade science teacher at Great Bend Middle School, will represent USD 428 in the 2019-2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year program. Both were recognized for their achievements in the teaching profession.

• The board approved a partnership with the City of Great Bend to share the salaries and expenses associated with crossing guards at each elementary school.

• A five-year beverage contract with Pepsi was approved. USD 428’s three-year beverage contract with Coca Cola concluded in March and the administration communicated with representatives of Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola companies, requesting proposals. Pepsi’s proposal will be benefit the district by about $12,000 more than Coke’s over the next five years.

• Kansas Association of School Board membership was renewed for 2019-2020. The membership cost is $11,588.90, which is $40.90 more than the previous year’s rate. Membership was also approved for the KASB Legal Assistance Fund at $2,100, the same as last year.

• The board had its first reading of an updated Exposure Control Plan for Bloodborne Pathogens to reflect current practices and protocol and online training for employees. Approval will be requested at the May meeting of the BOE. 

• The board also had its first reading of 2019-2020 Student Handbooks, Teacher Handbooks, and Athletic and Activity Handbooks.

• Assistant Superintendent John Popp reported on the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) Outside Validation Team visit on March 26.

• The Healthy Living Committee presented the Healthy Living Standards its members have been working on for the past two years to the board. These standards cover healthy habits, healthy relationships, and other health topics for K-12. This was a first reading of the standards, to be adopted in May.

• The committee for K-12 Social Studies has researched materials to pilot next year. Mr. Popp updated the board on the research and recommendation on selections, which the school board approved. 

• Superintendent Khris Thexton reported on Education Foundation Mini-Grants, legislative update, upcoming architect meeting, the April 1 visit from Kansas State Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Randy Watson, the upcoming Kansas Association of School Business Officials convention and the bills and financial reports.

• The board approved contributions and grant applications.

• An executive session was held for 20 minutes to discuss the latest proposal for the negotiated agreement, pursuant to the exception for employer-employee negotiations under the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

• An executive session was also held to discuss an individual employee’s performance, pursuant to non-elected personnel exception under KOMA.

• The board approved the personnel report.