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Phone system may be next school improvement
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When Great Bend USD 428 Superintendent Brad Reed needs to talk Great Bend High School Principal Tim Fries on the phone, it’s not a direct call. The easiest way to get through is to call an outside line.
Bad connections and dropped calls are also a problem, he told the school board last Monday, explaining the need for a new telephone system.
The system is “old and outdated and antiquated,” Reed said. “What we’ve got is a hodgepodge, all over the district.”
The school district is Great Bend’s  biggest single employer, with more than 700 people spread out over about a dozen buildings. That makes an efficient phone system an essential business tool, Reed continued. “You wish you didn’t have to spend money on anything but educating kids,” he said. “We need to do this.”
The administration will bring in companies to look at what the district has and what it needs.
“We think we can do this at a pretty good price,” Reed said, adding he expects it to cost less than $40,000.
During Monday’s meeting, Assistant Administrator Khris Thexton showed photos of some of the summer building maintenance projects, including concrete work at various schools, the roof at Washington Early Education Center and the flooring at Eisenhower Elementary. “Everybody works hard and it really shows,” Thexton said.

Superintendent’s report
Phones were just one item on Reed’s Superintendent’s Report for August. Other items included:
• Student transfer requests — Students are expected to attend their neighborhood schools, but parents request transfers for various reasons. There were 56 requests and 33 were approved as of last Monday. Parents whose requests are denied are contacted by Reed personally. “We’re pretty consistent,” he said of policy enforcement.
• United Way wrap-up — The school district became a pacesetter last year for United Way of Central Kansas, placing fourth in overall giving. Jefferson Elementary School won the district contest for best employee participation. As employees prepare for this year’s drive, there will be a celebration on Aug. 20 at Jefferson. Teachers and other staff have won the right to a water balloon fight with administrators.
The 19 area organizations that rely on United Way funds are all agencies that benefit our kids and our families, Reed said.
• Enrollment — The numbers weren’t all in yet, but Reed estimated enrollment is “down just a little bit.” The first online enrollment went well, with about 30 percent of parents taking care of enrollment from their homes.
Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Khris Thexton weighed in on the online enrollment, saying, “Overall, I thought it went pretty well. We’ll walk through what did and didn’t work. We’ll definitely work on making it better next year.”
Online payment of fees was also a new option for parents. Thexton said about $13,000 in online payments were made.
• Printed calendars — Printed school calendars are available at the district office for $2