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USD 428 Budget approved
Fleet vehicles purchased
The new concrete area in front of Park Elementary School is shown.
This is a significant reduction in the mill rate
USD 428 Superintendent Khris Thexton

It’s official: The mill levy for Great Bend USD 428 will decrease by an estimated 4.8 mills for the 2018-2019 school year. The change is mostly due to the district receiving more state aid and therefore requesting a smaller supplemental budget from local taxpayers.

The school board conducted a budget hearing Monday. There were no comments from the public and at the end of the hearing the board voted to approve the proposed budget that was published in the Aug. 3 Great Bend Tribune as a legal notice. The estimated tax rate this year will be 41.226 mills, compared to 46.031 mills last year.

“This is a significant reduction in the mill rate,” Superintendent Khris Thexton said.

State aid is primarily based on enrollment. “When our enrollment declined we lost state aid,” Thexton said. Great Bend’s actual enrollment was 2,940 in 2015-2016 and 2,778 in 2016-2017. It rose again last year as full-time kindergarten went into effect and this year’s budget formula estimates the adjusted full-time equivalent enrollment at 2,873.

The actual enrollment is currently down, but Thexton said some students are still enrolling. For example, there were 784 students enrolled at Great Bend High School as of last week but administrators expect 95 more students by the first day of school on Aug. 22. The official headcount will take place on Sept. 20.

Vehicle Purchases

In action items Monday, the board approved the purchase of three vehicles for the district fleet:

• A 7-passenger 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan SE minivan from Marmie Chrysler Dodge for the bid price of $25,764

• A 9-passenger 2019 Chevrolet Suburban sport utility vehicle from Marmie Chevrolet Buick GMC for $39,767

• A 10-passenger 2019 Ford Transit full-size van from Marmie Ford for $26,682.

Thexton said Marmie’s also submitted an alternate bid for a 12-passenger Chevrolet Express full-size van for $25,827 but by law school districts aren’t allowed to transport students in vans that carry more than 10 passengers. He said the district has been using Suburbans and will still have at least one in its fleet, but if the Transit works out the district may buy more of those in the future. “We want to make sure people are comfortable with them,” he said.

Summer Projects

Thexton also reported on summer projects, showing photos of areas with new concrete, carpeting or vinyl tile flooring. The area between Memorial Stadium and the Panther Activity Center (PAC) is now all concrete, as is an area in front of Park Elementary where there used to be trees.

Also this summer, 829 lunches were served at Park School during July, which is an average of 40 per day. That was lower than July of 2017 when the school served 943 lunches, or 52 per day. Thexton said the numbers may have been down because of the concrete work going on in front of the school, which may have caused people to think the building was closed. A sign in front of the school advertised the meals, which were available at no charge to any 18 years of age or younger.

“We still served a lot of meals,” Thexton said. “It is definitely worth being open in July,” Next summer, the district may consider opening a meal site at a second school on the other side of town during the same period, he added.

All five elementary schools offered breakfast and lunch during June.

School Starts Next Week

Thexton said new teachers have already reported to work and on Monday they were given a tour of Great Bend via the Panther activity bus.

Next Monday, Aug. 20, USD 428 employees will meet at GBHS for breakfast and the annual Business Showcase, sponsored by the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce. Seventy vendors will be set up in the PAC to offer specials and welcome district employees.

USD 428’s Director of Teaching and Learning Trisha Reiser said Chamber Executive Director Jan Peters spoke to the new teachers on Monday and Reiser liked one thing Peters said so much that she sent it out as a tweet:

“You have no idea how important you are to our community. The business community totally supports you! The biggest thing you need to know is THANK YOU!” #428proud.

The GBHS Marching Band will also perform for staff Monday morning.

USD 428 meeting at a glance

Here’s a brief summary of Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting:

• The 2018-2019 budget hearing was held. Hearing no comments from the public, the budget was then approved as published.

• Bids were awarded for the purchase of three vehicles.

• With Assistant Superintendent John Popp absent, Director of Teaching and Learning Tricia Reiser reported on the Professional Development Plan for the upcoming year, the curriculum steering committee, Professional Development activities, personnel update and curriculum meetings.

• Superintendent Khris Thexton reported on summer projects, summer lunch program, student transfer requests, the Kansas Association of School Boards annual conference coming up at the end of November, enrollment and more.

• The board approved contributions.

• Thexton gave a financial presentation, which was approved with the minutes in the consent agenda.

• Upcoming dates: Educators’ breakfast and back-to-school kick-off starts at 7 a.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at the GBHS Commons; Aug. 22 is the first day of school (full day for elementary, with kindergarten half days for two days; seventh graders at GBMS and freshmen at GBHS.) Aug. 23 is a full day for all students except kindergarten.

The new concrete area in front of Park Elementary School is shown.