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USD 428 notebook: Potential dropouts should know the value of a diploma
COVID-19 has delayed school progress
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Students who plan to drop out of high school will hear just how much that could cost them in future income, thanks to a new form recommended by the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Kansas law KSA 72-3120 outlines exemptions to compulsory school attendance. Students are expected to stay in high school until they are 18 years old or have attained a high school diploma or general educational development (GED) credential. However, they can drop out at age 16 or 17 once the student and parent attend a final counseling session to encourage the student to remain in school or pursue educational alternatives and a waiver is signed.

Now, KASB recommends a “Waiver of Compulsory Attendance Form” to document that the counseling session occurred. The form also contains the most recent earnings data based on educational achievement.

• According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, in the third quarter of 2019, full-time workers age 25 and older had median weekly earnings of $975. Those without a high school diploma had median weekly earnings of $606, compared with $749 for high school graduates (no college), and $874 for workers with some college or an associate degree. Workers with a bachelor’s degree (and no additional degree) had median weekly earnings of $1,281. Workers with an advanced degree (master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees) had median weekly earnings of $1,559 in the third quarter of 2019.

Great Bend USD 428’s Board of Education reviewed the “Waiver of Compulsory Attendance Form” and other KASB recommendations for policy changes at last Monday’s meeting. Policy revisions will get a second reading in February and the board will decide whether or not to adopt them. 

Assistant Superintendent John Popp noted that the dropout rate at Great Bend High School has been decreasing.

Saying goodbye to iPads

The purchase of 500 Lenova 10e Chromebook tablets at $230 each and 500 Google device management licenses at $24 each was approved by the school board on Monday, for a total of $127,000. This is part of the three-year rotation cycle for Chromebooks to maintain up-to-date technology for staff and students. This purchase was for K-1 student use.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said the purchase was in the budget and will come from capital outlay funds. Until now, kindergartners and first graders were assigned iPads, unlike older students who are assigned Chromebooks. One reason for this was the touchscreens on iPads made them easier for small children to master. Now Chromebooks are available with a touchscreen. “We’re going to phase out iPads,” Thexton said.

Purchased at the state contract rate, the Chromebooks are also “a bit cheaper,” Thexton said. He also noted that it used to take about a month to receive orders for wireless devices but during the COVID-19 pandemic it can take up to six months.

COVID-19 update

Thexton said educators are in Phase 2 for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. “John (Popp) sent a survey to find where people stand on the vaccines,” he said. Although no one knows when or how the staff will receive vaccinations, the administration wants to know who will want to participate. “We’re not requiring it,” he explained. But, “when it’s time, we’ll be ready.”

In other COVID news, Thexton said the second round of federal CARES funds came in and the district will receive $2,757,000 that must be spent by September of 2023. The district received $630,000 in the first round.

“It was very welcomed information that we received from the state department (of education) last week,” he said. The money will be used “to offset staff costs and bringing our students back up to speed for the time they’ve missed — where they’ve struggled during the time they’ve been gone.”

While the funding is good news, Director of Teaching and Learning Tricia Reiser told the school board that scores on students’ winter benchmark tests “weren’t where we usually see them.” They haven’t decreased, but usually by the end of the fall semester the scores show more improvement. “It’s stayed flat,” she said. The district uses the Kansas Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) to evaluate students and provide intervention in areas where they are not up to grade level.