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USD 428 BOE approves program aimed at helping struggling students
No timeline on USD 428 building sales
usd 428 district office web
Until recently, this site at 201 South Patton Road housed the USD 428 District Education Center.

The Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education has approved a new program to help high school students who need help with reading skills and a pilot program to help students of all ages who are English language learners.

Director of Teaching and Learning JoAnn Blevins presented both at Monday’s school board meeting.

The first is a subscription to Lexia PowerUp Literacy, for use at GBHS for students who need reading intervention. The cost is $9,800. Blevins said the school has used i-Lit but that service doesn’t align with the science or reading standards and therefore is not eligible for at-risk funding using federal Title funds. Also, the teachers were dissatisfied with the old program and those who tested PowerUp Literacy saw quick gains. The cost includes licenses for 200 students and an unlimited number of teachers, plus professional development training.

Blevins also got board approval to try out the Flashlight 360 as a pilot program. English language learners have some of the largest learning gaps and she believes this tool would be a good fit for the district’s pre-K through 12th grade English language program.

“We think it could be helpful to us,” she said. However, “the cost is pretty high.”

When quoted a $60,000 cost, Blevins negotiated for a pilot tryout for one semester, at a cost of $9,750. She noted that while most English language learners in Great Bend speak Spanish, there are eight foreign languages that have been represented here now or in the past. This product works for all of them. “The instructors find it promising,” she concluded.

No timeline on building sales

Now that Great Bend USD 428 has moved into a new Support Services facility at 625 East 10th St. and a new District Education Center/Little Panthers Preschool at 1809 24th St., it was three extra buildings on its hands.

Some items were replaced in the move. For the District Education Center and preschool, the district acquired the former CUNA complex, complete with many of the furnishings, some of which were put to use when the building was remodeled for district use. Assistant Superintendent John Popp said the district has a large amount of surplus inventory that it will want to get rid of in the future.

The timeline on disposing of the items has not been determined, Popp said.

“We are still gathering surplus items into the old maintenance building. I have floated the idea that we might let teachers look through it first, but nothing has been set. As far as selling the surplus buildings, again there is not a timeline. At this time, we are not selling anything to the public.” 

The district has moved out of the former Maintenance & Transportation Building at 2019 12th St., the former Central Kitchen at 2201 Broadway Ave. and the former District Education Center at 201 South Patton Road, and the original Little Panthers Preschool, which was leased from the First Congregational United Church of Christ at 3400 21st St.

He indicated there has been interest from the public in purchasing one or more of the old buildings. Others have expressed interest in getting them back on the tax rolls.

The district would like to sell these properties before winter to save the cost of heating them, he told  the school board.

Little Panther handbook approved

The 2024-2025 Little Panthers Preschool Handbook was approved at Monday’s school board meeting. LPP Principal Tandi Mai said it is modeled after the handbook for elementary students. “Our whole idea is to have kindergarten readiness,” she said. For that reason, regular attendance is encouraged although students can’t be considered truant if they aren’t in preschool.

Items preschoolers should bring every day include backpacks and a change of clothes.

Details can be found on the district website,

Gym floor

The district received only one bid for refinishing the Great Bend High School gym floor but Assistant Superintendent John Popp said it was a “reasonable” bid of $29,620 from Patterson Construction in La Crosse. It was approved. The work will be done in July.

Athletic trainer and personnel

Activities Director Matt Westerhaus said he has been unable to fill the position of licensed athletic trainer with a teacher. In the past, athletic trainer Ryan Zink was also an instructor who taught sports medicine. Unable to fill that position, the district will accept proposals for contracted athletic trainer service.

During the personnel report, the board accepted two teacher resignations, from Sharon Jelinek, vocal music teacher at Lincoln Elementary, and from Kelly Noland, third-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary.

The following appointments were approved:

• Lauren Mathews, third-grade teacher at Eisenhower

• Michala Bieker, preschool teacher at Little Panthers

• Cassie Morales, sixth-grade teacher at Jefferson

• Carla Ryan, special education teacher for Barton County Special Services (location to be determined)

• Kimberly Maxwell, psychometrist for Barton County Special Services


Insurance was renewed using the Kansas Educational Risk Management Pool (KERMP), a membership-owned consortium made up of K-12 Kansas school districts. The insurance renewal quote for $469,701 will cost $2,999 more than last year, a 0.64% increase.