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USD 428 stays ahead of Chromebook rush
Schools seeing fewer migrant students
usd428 10-12-2020
Park Elementary fourth-grade teacher Dorothy Leidig stands before the Great Bend USD 428 school board on Monday, Oct. 12, to be recognized for receiving the district’s Horizon Award for 2021.

The pandemic has prompted more Americans to buy Chromebooks and other wireless devices, but Great Bend USD 428 was able to place an order this month for 850 units. The school board approved the $249,900 purchase Monday.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said the price includes cases and is at the state contract rate.

The district has a rotation cycle for electronic purchases to maintain up-to-date technology. Chromebooks are on a three-year rotation.

“We are ahead of schedule,” Thexton said of Monday’s purchase. Ryan Axman, director of information technology, reports that Chromebooks are in high demand and used devices can sell for almost as much as new ones. “This price is about what we’d expect.”

The Chromebooks are purchased from GDW-G, one of the largest computer resellers in the United States, according to USD 428 Public Information Director Andrea Bauer. “They work with the State of Kansas and bid equipment to the state. This enables schools to benefit from large state-wide pricing without having to bid it ourselves.”

Migrant funding reduced

In other business Monday, the board approved the 2020-2021 Local Consolidated Plan (LCP) allocation. This is federal money for several programs. This year’s allocations total $1,084,192, which compares to 2019-2020’s $1,105,916 and 2018-2019’s $1,143,054.

Director of Teaching and Learning Tricia Reiser said the biggest drop in funding has been for migrant education and that is because USD 428 has fewer migrant students than it once had. This is a trend seen across the state, she said.

“Two years ago, Kansas had 4,000 migrant students,” she said. Now there are approximately half that number.

The funds and this year’s allocations, followed by the previous year’s amounts, are:

Title I A - Improving Education Programs $792,334 ($758,372)

Title I C - Migratory Programs $72,000 ($138,600)

Title II A - Supporting Effective Instruction $126,616 ($120,726)

Title III A - English Learner and Immigrant Programs $48,476 ($49,378)

Title IVA - Grants for Student Support/Academic Enrichment $44,766 ($38,840)

Superintendent’s report

Superintendent Thexton reminded the board that the Kansas Teacher of the Year Banquet has been postponed.

He also reported that students are receiving free breakfasts and lunches, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We have been able to back-date that,” he said, so meals paid for at the start of the school year are now credited to the families. “When this money runs out, their money will kick in.”

This program ends Dec. 31, but Thexton said there is talk of extending it to June 30, 2021.

Next week, Oct. 19-23, is Bus Safety Awareness Week and this year’s theme is “Be Safe - Know the Danger Zone,” The district is emphasizing Kansas traffic laws that require motorists to stop when a school bus “stop arm” is out. “Stop arm violations are one of the biggest violations that we have with the buses,” he said.

October is also Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.

Meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting:

• The board recognized Dorothy Leidig, fourth-grade teacher at Park Elementary School, who is the is the USD 428 Horizon Award Recipient for 2021. The award, presented annually in the fall, recognizes exemplary new teachers starting their second year of teaching.

• The board approved the Title VI B and Early Childhood Flow-Through budget, which covers salaries for licensed special education staff salaries. The 2020-2021 application amounts to $1,016,476 for Title VI B pass-through funds ($32,654 higher than the prior-year) and $40,434 for ECH ($97 higher than the prior-year). This was first presented in September and the budget application was available for public review at the Barton County Cooperative of Special Education for 30 days.

• The board approved the purchase of 850 Chromebooks for $249,900.

• Board President Chris Umphres was chosen as the board’s delegate at the Kansas Association of School Boards annual conference, Dec. 4-6. Board member Lori Reneau was chosen as the alternate. This year’s assembly will be held virtually.

• The board approved the 2020-2021 Local Consolidated Plan (LCP) allocation. This is federal money for Improving Education Programs, Supporting Effective Instruction, English Learner and Immigrant Programs, Grants for Student Support/Academic Enrichment, and Migrant programs.

• Heard reports from Superintendent Khris Thexton, Assistant Superintendent John Popp, and Director of Teaching and Learning Tricia Reiser.

• The board approved a gift to Lincoln Elementary School, which will receive $325.42 for spring picture reward incentives from Strawbridge Studios Inc.