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Program aims for jobs after high school
School board approves JAG pilot
new slt board lunch
Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education members and employees enjoy a lunch prepared by Great Bend High School students, Thursday in the GBHS Library. It was prepared by the Family Consumer Science class for the annual school board meeting at GBHS. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

A program that helps keep at-risk students in school now and helps them find jobs after graduation is coming to Great Bend USD 428 this fall.
The program is called JAG, which stands for Jobs for America’s Graduates. After hearing a presentation Thursday, the school board approved a pilot program for the 2017-2018 school year. Bev Mortimer, vice president of development for JAG Kansas, joined GBHS counselors for the presentation.
JAG helps students who face multiple barriers that could affect their likelihood of graduation and their successful transition from high school to employment or post-secondary education. Those selected will spend an hour a day in a “JAG class.” They’ll work with a trained career specialist whose job will extend beyond the school day, Mortimer said.
JAG is a nationally recognized program that has a 90 percent graduation rate while working with at-risk students, she said. “Our number one goal is high school graduation.” Students also see improved grades and attendance 80 percent of the time.
Students learn job skills, including soft skills like showing up on time, she said. And JAG provides 12 months of post-graduation follow-up and support services as the student goes on to a job or post-secondary education.
The district will receive $64,000 worth of services at no cost for the pilot year, Mortimer said. After that, JAG will cost about $8,000 a year. The district will provide a classroom, computer and some transportation.

Other business
During the school year, the board of education holds one luncheon meeting each month at a different learning center. Thursday’s meeting was held in the library of Great Bend High School. While the board usually enjoys a school lunch at these meetings, the GBHS luncheon is always prepared by students in Kerri Batman’s Family Consumer Science class.
In other business, the board met in executive session for 10 minutes with Great Bend attorney Mark Rondeau, to discuss a matter protected by attorney-client privilege. GBHS Principal Tim Friess and Interim Superintendent Khris Thexton joined the board.
A second executive session with board members only, for discussion of personnel, lasted 12 minutes. Then the board voted to name Thexton the superintendent, effective July 1.
Friess and staff gave a building report on the Therapeutic Learning Classroom.
Ryan Zink, GBHS athletic trainer, talked about the Athletic Testing Solutions Heart Check, and the board voted to allow him to move forward with the program. This program helps teens discover heart problems that often go unnoticed. This program of clinical quality heart screenings will be offered to families at a cost of $99 per student, with some financial assistance available.
The board approved the retirement of GBHS teacher Kerri Batman, and the resignations of Angela Simpson, special education teacher; Elisabeth Gafford, Eisenhower fifth-grade teacher; Hether Devine, Riley ESL teacher; and Alyssa Bliven, Great Bend Middle School art teacher.
The board approved three new appointments: Abigail Rodriguez and Kylie Birney, both teaching fourth grade at Lincoln Elementary, and Gayle Skalla, teaching first grade at Eisenhower Elementary.