Last month, Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education members heard that nearly 95% of the students at Eisenhower Elementary School would receive free or reduced-price lunches this fall. While the actual figure is significantly less than that, Superintendent Khris Thexton said there are more students meeting the low-income guidelines for food assistance than a year ago.
Thexton told the school board on Monday that the 94.5% figure cited last month by Eisenhower Principal JoAnn Blevins represented the percentage of students whose families had applied for free and reduced-price meals. The actual percentage of eligible students at Eisenhower is 77.34% — a 6.65% increase from the 2018-19 school year. More families participated after Great Bend USD 428 added the application to its online enrollment forms. And at Eisenhower, the school secretary pointed that option out at enrollment time.
Overall, at least 50% of the students at every school in the district now qualify for free or reduced-price meals (see table). Thexton said those students also count as at-risk students, which allows the district to qualify for weighted enrollment. That translates to more state aid.
Contributions and grants
In action items Monday, the school board accepted grants and contributions, including $2,324 from the Kansas Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Resource Office to the Great Bend High School Robotic Club for its involvement with the Seatbelts Are For Everyone (S.A.F.E.) program. The teen-run program educated peers on the importance of seat belt use, the hazards of underage drinking and the effects of driving while impaired. It also raised motorcycle safety awareness and stressed the importance of wearing a seat belt to reduce the number of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities among Kansas teens.
• Food Service Director Kristy Alvord applied for and will accept a Kansas State Department of Education 2019 Food Service Equipment Assistance Grant for $1,545 that will be used toward the purchase of a Mobile Heated Cabinet.
• The GBHS Vocational Technical Club will receive a $200 contribution from Blackstone Resources LLC.
• The Great Bend Middle School Booster Club has donated $552 to the athletic department to purchase four basketball box-out shields from USA Gymnastics.
Allocation of Title funds
In other business, the board approved the Local Consolidated Plan allocation for state and federal programs, commonly known at Title programs, which amounts to $1,105,916. The total is $37,138 less than last year. Programs with the allocated amounts are:
• Title I A Improving Education Programs, $758,372
• Title I C Migratory Programs, $138,600
• Title II A Supporting Effective Instruction, $120,726
• Title III A English Learner and Immigrant Programs, $49,378
• Title IVA Grants for Student Support and Academic, $38,840
Thexton said the reduction in funds can be found mostly in the funding for migratory programs, and that is because the district saw a decrease in the number of migrant students.
The board also approved the Title VI B and Early Childhood budgets, which covers salaries for licensed special education staff salaries. This was announced previously and the budget application was available for public review for 30 days at the office of the Barton County Cooperative of Special Education.
Free/Reduced Lunch Percentages
School 2018-19 2019-20
Eisenhower 70.69 77.34
Jefferson 48.09 50
Lincoln 59.93 59.68
Park 85.77 82.55
Riley 92.31 94.3
GBMS 65 64.64
GBHS 60.83 61.53
Totals 68.95 70.01