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USD 428 pursues share of $27M grant
District receives clean audit
new slt calendar draft.eps
This draft of a school calendar for 2018-2019 was shown to the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education on Monday. The board is expected to approve a calendar for the next two years at its February meeting. - photo by courtesy of USD 428

New and retiring board of education members for Great Bend USD 428 received pies from Perkins at Monday’s meeting.
There were plaques and certificates for retiring board members Joyce Carter, Dr. Larry Kutina and Kevin Mauler, who received lifetime admission passes to district activities.
Jacquie Disque, Deanna Essmiller and Don Williams were welcomed as the newest elected board members.

Grant application
Administrators received the board’s approval to apply for a grant from the Kansas Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Initiative. Superintendent Khris Thexton explained that Kansas has been awarded a $27 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to advance literacy skills. Applicants seeking a share of this money must represent at least 5,000 students, so Great Bend will work with Newton and Hays public schools and apply for the grant as a consortium.
The grantees must serve students from low socioeconomic households, English-learning students and students with disabilities. The purpose of the grant is to advance literacy skills for students from birth through grade 12 and includes pre-literacy skills, reading and writing.
Application materials will be distributed in February and March with funding awarded in May and June for the 2018-2019 school year.
Board members were advised that Monday’s action allows USD 428’s Director of Federal Programs Tricia Reiser to apply for the grant, but does not obligate the board to future action.

Audit Report
Vickie Dreiling from Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball Chtd. gave an audit report for the past fiscal year which was approved by the board. Dreiling said it could be approved next month if board members wanted more time to study the report, but she is on a deadline to submit the report and any corrective action plan to the federal audit clearinghouse.
Dreiling said the district received a “clean” or “unqualified” report, which is “the highest form of statement we can give an opinion on.”
The district ended the fiscal year on June 30, 2017, with $18.3 million in unencumbered cash. Dreiling said she looked at nine districts of comparable size and USD 428 had the third-lowest cash balance, but it also had the lowest debt at $2.6 million.
“You’re in a very good position,” she said, noting the district can retire its debt within two years. “You have a good cash balance as well.”
Dreiling did report one significant deficiency in the district’s internal controls.
“One bank reconciliation regarding payroll was not accurate,” she said. This occurred when the district switched its software. “We cleaned those (problems) up after we found what was causing the issues.”
The corrective action plan was approved by Thexton on Jan. 3 and is ongoing.

The board was shown a proposed draft of calendars for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. Thexton said this is the first time the district has tried to prepare a two-year calendar. He and Assistant Superintendent John Popp said it will help the administration schedule speakers. If the calendars are approved — which will probably happen at next month’s board meeting — the district will then return to working on one calendar per year, extending the two-year window.
Teachers were shown the draft more than a month ago, Popp said.
“We don’t have an official calendar committee like we used to have,” Popp said. Certain in-service days are discussed during Interest Based Bargaining — the district’s process for teacher contract negotiations — and teachers provide a lot of feedback.
“We try to make this as user-friendly as possible, and not go past Memorial Day,” Thexton said.

The board approved the appointment of Kerri Batman to teach family consumer science at GBHS and Cassandra Chesney as a school nurse at GBHS and Park Elementary. The board also approved the retirement of Barbara Watson, teacher of English and debate at GBHS.