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Superintendent’s contract extended
USD 355 still working on Crisis Plan
icy main Jan. 2020
Ice on Main Street Great Bend, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. - photo by Daniel Kiewel

ELLINWOOD — Action taken in the executive session extended the contract for Ben Jacobs as Superintendent through the 2020-2021 school year at the USD 355 School Board Meeting on Monday.

“I am very excited that board has extended my contract for another year, ”Jacobs said. “I look forward to working with the board members and staff to improve the school. I am also looking forward to improving the redesign efforts.”

In other business

USD 355 is still working on its crisis plan, according to Jacobs, they had their first meeting and expect it will take one or two more meetings to wrap it up.

The Board of Education and administration of USD 355 acknowledge the necessity to prepare a Crisis Management Plan in the event that a crisis should occur. The goal of crisis intervention is to provide immediate assistance to restore normalcy and minimize debilitating lasting effect.

In an event which threatens the feeling of safety and security for students and staff will be considered a crisis. There are unlimited possibilities for a crisis situation that could include, but may not be limited to, the following situations: acts of violence, trauma (death; suicide), natural disaster, and accidents.

Superintendent’s Report Feb. 11

• Ryan Koetter and I are currently reviewing bids for Category Two Equipment (district networking and internet distribution equipment) under the Federal E-Rate program. This is the last year of funding for the program, and USD 355 has approximately $56,000 of budget remaining at a 70 percent reimbursement rate. 

“I hope to have recommendations for the board at the March board meeting.” Jacobs said.

• Nominations are now being accepted for the Foundation’s Educator of the Year Award. Any full time, non-administrative licensed staff member is eligible to receive the award. Any patron of USD 355 can submit a nomination. Any person nominated will remain under consideration for the award for this year and next. The deadline to submit a nomination is March 1st. Nominating forms may be acquired by contacting the Central Office or by download from the district webpage.

• The district is undertaking a significant number of efficiency actions to improve procedures and protocol. The Central Office will be onboarding all employees and managing all required employment forms online through the Frontline Central portal. 

The district is also researching solutions to afford patrons to submit free/reduced lunch applications online. This will greatly streamline the online enrollment process. We currently facilitate both of these actions via hard copy. While somewhat daunting, it will greatly improve operations at both the district and building levels.

• The district has scheduled its KESA (state accreditation) OVT visit for Thursday, April 4. This visit will involve the OVT reviewing the district’s KESA year two actions (goals and action plans) and provide input to improve school outcomes. The team members are Josh Meyer (St. John Superintendent), Eric Sjogren (Lindsborg Elementary Principal), and Karisa Cowan (Hoisington Middle School Teacher). This teams meets with the District Leadership Team once each year.

Board of Education Athletics / Activities report

Scholar’s Bowl

The EHS Scholar’s Bowl team finished 3-3 at Regionals held on January 31 in Brookville, falling a match short of qualifying for finals. The highlights of this year’s season was a Runner-Up finish at the CPL Tournament and the growth in participation numbers in our program.


Sarah Hammeke and Marlow Hosler captured a third-place finish at the KSHSAA State Championships last month. The duo was recognized for their outstanding season and debate career at a recent home basketball game. Congratulations to Sarah, Marlow, and Coach Vance Stegman for their accomplishments as we get to add some additional hardware to our trophy case.

Mystic Blues

The EHS Mystic Blues have been selected to perform at the 4A KSHSAA State Basketball Tournament on Friday, March 8, before the scheduled 2:55 p.m. game. The tournament is being held at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina.

Winter Jam Honors

Mya Maxwell was selected to the All-Tournament Team based on her outstanding performance at the Hoisington Winter Jam Basketball Tournament. Student-athletes are voted upon by the head coaches of all competing schools.

The board approved the following:

• Accepted resignations from Kaitlin Clawson (cheer coach) and Jean Garner (library aide) both effective at the end of the school year.

• Approved Dustin Wheeler (head middle school tennis coach), Amy Wheeler (assistant middle school tennis coach), and Alex Cape (assistant softball coach).

• Approved a contract extension for Ben Jacobs as Superintendent through the 2020-2021 school year. 

Gifts to the schools

$500 — Golden Belt, Giving Tuesday