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Ready to roll: New buses delivered to USD 428
Rein named Riley Principal
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School board members check out the new activity bus, recently delivered to Great Bend USD 428. - photo by Susan Thacker
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Beth Rein

Beth Rein has been chosen as the next principal at Riley Elementary School. The Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education approved her appointment and other personnel changes during a luncheon meeting held Thursday at Great Bend High School.

Rein is the At-Risk teacher, also known as the Student Support Coach, at Riley, where she is a member of the Building Leadership Team, Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS) Team and Riley Site Council. She is also involved in the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA) and has served as president of the Great Bend-NEA. Rein served as the interim principal at Riley Elementary last year when Principal JoAnn Blevins was out for medical leave.

For the next school year, Blevins will become the principal at Eisenhower Elementary, replacing Laurie Harwood, who announced her resignation earlier this year. Blevins commented on Rein’s new assignment, saying, “Beth Rein has a natural ability to find interventions in the moment and long term that help our students be successful.”

Luncheon meeting

Each school in the district hosts a luncheon meeting once a year; at the high school, the meal is prepared by Family and Consumer Science students. The students also set the tables, this year using red and white checked tablecloths that complemented the menu of lasagna and homemade bread. Lunch included garden salads and carrot cake baked in individual bundt pans.

Asbestos removal

In action items, the school board approved the low bid of $28,979 from Advanced Environmental Testing & Abatement Inc. to remove asbestos tiles at Jefferson and Lincoln elementary schools.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said asbestos floor tiles have been in some schools for a number of years and when left undisturbed they do not pose a health threat. When plans were made to replace tile at Jefferson Elementary this summer, the presence of the asbestos was confirmed and the district received three bids for the abatement project. Thexton said he decided to have a few asbestos tiles located at Lincoln Elementary removed at the same time. The company is based in the Kansas City Metro area at Belton, Mo. The work will be completed between May 20 and July 1.

Personnel report

The board also approved a personnel report. In addition to the appointment of Rein as Riley Principal, it included teacher appointments and resignations, and one teacher retirement.

Licensed teacher appointments: Kinzie Behrends, sixth-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, through the Transition to Teaching program; Kendra Morris, special education teacher at Jefferson; Layne Liebst, kindergarten teacher at Eisenhower; Katherine Hekele, Family and Consumer Science teacher at GBHS; and Rachel Wiehl, fifth-grade teacher at Eisenhower.

Teacher resignations: Catrina McGurk, Technology Coach at Jefferson Elementary; Mike Perry, eighth-grade science teacher at Great Bend Middle School; and Katelyn Buckman, fourth-grade teacher at Eisenhower.

Licensed Teacher Retirement: Steve Beaumont, computer technology at GBMS.

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District personnel are shown inside the new activity bus. Back row, from left: Samantha Drake, transportation secretary; Cody Schmidt, director ground and transportation. Front row: John Popp, assistant superintendent; Khris Thexton, superintendent.

The buses are ready to roll

At the conclusion of Thursday’s meeting, the school board stepped outside to see one of two new activity buses purchased in January, which arrived this week.

The Ultra Coach 45 buses replace older activity buses, including one that broke down and left students stranded in Dodge City last year.

Cody Schmidt, director of grounds and transportation, did a significant amount of research, test-driving, and inspecting before the project was approved by the school board, noted Andrea Bauer, USD 428’s director of public relations. The old buses were purchased used in 2006.

Even before the buses receive their full Panther graphics “wrap,” ordered from Mark’s Custom Signs, they will be put to use, Schmidt said. He expected a bus inspection to be completed Thursday evening in time for the bus to take its inaugural trip on Friday, March 29, delivering the boys and girls Varsity Track Team to a competition in Junction City. 

Features and amenities on the buses include individual seats with seat belts, USB ports for wireless devices, video screens and individual climate control, Bauer said. Buses were purchased out of the district’s capital outlay fund and retired buses were sold using Purple Wave, an online auction service.

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School board members Don Williams, left, and Deanna Essmiller enjoy the lunch prepared by Great Bend High School students, Thursday at GBHS. Family and Consumer Science students were in charge of meal preparation and setting the tables. - photo by Susan Thacker

Meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at Thursday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting, held at Great Bend High School:

• Board members and guests were served a lunch prepared by Family and Consumer Science students.

• A personnel report was approved that included teacher appointments, resignation and retirements. Beth Rein was named as the next principal at Riley Elementary School.

• The board approved the low bid for abatement of asbestos floor tiles at Jefferson and Lincoln elementary schools, for $28,979. Advanced Environmental Testing & Abatement Inc. will complete the project between May 20 and July 1.

• The building report from GBHS Principal Tim Friess and staff members focused on school improvement efforts. After the meeting adjourned, everyone was invited to tour a new activity bus, a building project, and the Paw Shop. Students are involved in the building project and in operation of the shop in the school that features Panther apparel and other items.