The Hoisington USD 431 Board of Education met Monday and heard from District Technology Coordinator Kerry Mooney, who informed the board he had received a bid at noon that day from a company that would sell the district new Chromebooks for $170 each, significantly lower than other bids received. In addition, Mooney can service the Chromebooks himself, including switching out damaged screens. The iPads have to be sent off for service, so down the road the economic feasibility continues.
With the cost this low, it made sense for the board to approve the purchase. They agreed to purchase 135 units for a total of $22,945. Most of the money has been sitting in a foundation fund earmarked for the expense for a couple of years now, and Mooney outlined how by taking a similar number of iPads out of service and selling them, the rest of the money could be recouped for the district.
A private purchaser may purchase the iPads for between $70 to $115 apiece depending on condition. Also, there may be local purchasers as yet unidentified. Board members asked how long it will take to make the transition.
“It will take longer to take the chromebooks out of their boxes then it will to have them up and running,” Mooney said. However, taking eh iPads out of service is more complicated, and could take his department about a week from start to finish on all the iPads to be switched out.
Chromebooks, like traditional laptops, come with a keyboard. But, memory is not on the units, but accessed through an online server commonly referred to as the cloud. Google, the company that licenses Chromebooks, has provided unlimited cloud storage for all schools, which will save the district from having to purchase a bigger server as more students come online in more classes. In a survey Mooney has conducted, students and teachers both agree that it is preferred over the iPad for performing work and research at the middle school and high school level.
New eligibility rules
Athletic Director Matt Shultz updated the board on how students at the middle and high school are progressing in sports, and discussed changes proposed to Class 3A sports in Kansas.
With 64 schools in the division statewide, it has been proposed to split the league into two sub-leagues in order to lighten the grueling load of games required during playoffs. In 2015, 3A teams played three games in 10 days, and many parents and coaches have growing concerns that this doesn’t give players enough time to recuperate between games, and could lead to dangerous, even deadly health issues. It’s a problem plaguing more than just Div. 3A, and has hit close to home here in Barton County. A senior from Otis-Bison High School, Luke Schemm, died in November after collapsing on the field of a Div. 1 eight-man football game played at Sharon Springs, his third in 10 days.
Some board members questioned where Hoisington would fall if the division split does occur. Shultz indicated that the district would do well in either one, and that it is too soon to tell.
New rules for eligibility to play were also submitted to board members. Shultz and Mrs. Reinhardt and Mr. Mason have been developing a plan to create stricter rules more in line with what other schools in the league require of students. The new rules will be unveiled soon, and while Shultz acknowledges it will take some getting used to for students accustomed to the previous requirements, he and the other administrators believe it will help to make athletes more resilient academically.
Good audit report
The board also heard a presentation of the district’s annual audit report from representatives of Adams, Brown, Beran & Ball. In light of the anticipated construction of a new school building to replace Roosevelt Elementary in 2016, issuance of bonds was one topic covered in the report. A conscientious effort was shown to have been made to move funds into appropriate accounts which saved the district from losing over $25,000 which could have been returned to the state otherwise due to block grant funding issues. The district’s move to hire a new food service company to manage the school lunch and breakfast programs has successfully saved dollars too. In all, the district received glowing reports. One suggestion included setting up appropriate procedures to ensure responsibility for funds is spread out so one person is not responsible for more than one key procedure. It was noted that this is a common concern for most small districts in the state.
In a related issue, the board approved a recommendation by Superintendent Bill Lowry to invest bond funds into cd’s to mature on a schedule of one per every few months, all through Wilson State Bank. The bank was one among three approached for bids by the district, and offered the highest rate of return.
After Lowry gave his legislative report, the board moved into executive session for 20 minutes for the purpose of discussing personnel. Upon reentering open meeting, they approved the employment of Denton Lewis as a bus driver, and the employment of Christie Brungardt as middle school girls basketball coach.
The next regular meeting will be Monday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. at the district office.