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USD 428 in no rush to replace Reed
Security cameras purchased for buses
Thexton Khris

The Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education doesn’t need to hurry as it seeks to replace Superintendent Brad Reed, who resigned last month, board president Joyce Carter said Monday.
During the regular board meeting, Interim Superintendent Khris Thexton told the board about two firms that can offer assistance in the search. The district can also use the services of the Kansas Association of School Boards.
“I’m not interested in getting an early start on this,” Carter said. She said the board has time and should have meetings first to see what direction it wants to take.
She said the board should talk about “long-term goals, areas of concern and ways to move forward.”
She added, “We have people right now who are willing to work on that with us.”
During his report on business and operations, Thexton said the administration wants board input on long-range facility planning. Board member Susan Young said teacher input should also be sought, so Thexton said he would put together a survey.

Bus cameras
In other business, the board approved the purchase of security cameras for seven district buses. All of the other buses are already so equipped, Thexton said. It will cost about $16,700 to add camera systems to five yellow buses and to the two red Panther activity buses.
Thexton noted this follows other security measures taken in the past year or so, such as adding cameras and buzzers at school entrances. “This is part of the process of doing the best we can to keep our kids safe.”

Policy revisions
The board also approved all of the policy revisions and additions recommended last month except the revision of the “Student Self-Administration of Medication” policy.
The proposed change would have broadened the current policy that requires parents to fill out a form and for doctors to confirm if they want students to be able to administer their own medication for asthma or allergic reactions.
Thexton said he and Assistant Superintendent John Popp met with school nurses on Monday and they had some concerns with the wording of the new policy, so they are going to work on it some more. The district will continue to operate under the existing policy for this school year, with a new version ready for the fall semester.

The board also saw the first draft of next year’s school calendar, which may also need more work. In the draft calendar, students would start school on Aug. 16 and their last day would be May 17, 2018.
“It’s very similar to what we’ve got this year,” Thexton said.
“I’m concerned about getting out of school on the 17th, with graduation on May 13,” Carter said.
Popp said school could start and end a week later, but the semesters would not be balanced.
This year has the same pattern; graduation is on May 14, which is Mother’s Day, and the last day of school is May 18.
Beth Unrein, a teacher representing the Great Bend-National Education Association, said starting later in the past meant teachers had five work days before the first day of school, which was a concern. But their biggest concern is to be done before Memorial Day.
Teachers and administrators will continue to work on the calendar, but the final decision will be the board’s. There must be 185 contractual days for teachers, and 172 contact days with students.

Gifts and grants
The board also approved the following gifts and grant applications:
• Cindy Sandy, Eisenhower School’s Kansas Reading Roadmap (KRR) program director, has received a $1,000 Healthy Habits for Life grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
• Holly Tittel, Great Bend Middle School’s library media specialist, received approval to apply for a Lowes Toolbox for Education grant. Funds, if granted, will be used to purchase such items as new tables, chairs, couches and charging stations for the GBMS library.
• Walmart has donated $1,000 to the KRR program at Eisenhower, and $500 each to the programs at Park and Lincoln elementary schools.

Legislative update
Governor Sam Brownback is scheduled to give his State of the State address at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10. Thexton noted that school funding continues to be an issue for the Legislature. “I feel very comfortable with our representation locally,” he said.

Tory Arnberger, R-Great Bend, was elected to the House and is on the education committee. Stafford USD Superintendent Mary Jo Taylor, R-Stafford, was elected to the Senate and is also on the education committee.