Prairie Hills USD No. 113

The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education met at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 15, at the district office in Sabetha. Board members present included Ed Reznicek, Kathy Lippert, Jim Scoby, Leslie Scoby and Kent Kuckelman. Jeff DeMint joined the meeting later. Kent Saylor was not present.

The board adopted the agenda as amended.

The board entered into executive session to protect attorney/client privilege. Included in the executive session were Superintendent Todd Evans, USD No. 113 Attorney Martin Mishler and Nemaha County Attorney Brad Lippert. Following the executive session, no binding action was taken.

The board entered into executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. No binding action was taken.

The board approved the consent agenda, including May 8 meeting minutes, June bills of $338,403.22, corrected May bills of $140,064.58, May payroll of $640,825.10, permission to accept bids for van number five, a request from the Axtell Knights of Columbus to use a bus to transport students to the Seneca Aquatic Center for swimming lessons, participation in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for Fiscal Year 2018, all eligible classes taught by Highland Community College, a request to destroy financial records from Fiscal Year 2010 and previous, a bid for the 2017/18 Food Service from U.S. Foods for $204,581.77, personal leave for Holly Meyer and Kristina Castillo, and a number of contracts and resignations.

Contracts include the following: Pam Walker, 0.5 Sabetha High School media specialist; increase of Jessica Atwood’s WAC teaching contract from 0.43 to 0.59; Mike Ford, semester one science at SHS; Rick Schnacker, WAC principal; Kay Duncan, SHS cheerleading; and Hunter Howerton, SHS assistant wrestling coach.

Resignations include the following: Edward Ebner, Wetmore bus driver; Dustin Schrag, SMS Scholars Bowl coach; Maria Zubler, Sabetha custodian; and Janelle Boden, WAC principal.

The board received written reports from principals Sheri Harmer, Matt Garber, Sara Toedman, Janelle Boden and Larry Geist.

Principal Boden told board members that the Summer Lunch Program has been going well, with an average of 25 lunches served each day.

Director of Student Learning Jennifer Gatz provided board members with an update on state assessments. The district continues to perform above state average in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. Science assessment data is not yet available. The district continues to perform slightly better in math than in ELA. Next year, a History-Social Studies-Government assessment will be added in upper grades.

Superintendent’s Report

Evans presented the board with post graduate information from the National Student Clearinghouse. The Education Commission has targeted that the state wants 70 percent of students to have some type of post secondary degree. Evans said the high school is responsible for activity in the first two years following high school. Information available from the Class of 2010 showed that 66 percent of students started post secondary education. Out of those, 36.4 percent completed some sort of degree. At Axtell, 43.8 percent who graduated high school with the Class of 2010 also graduated with a post secondary degree. From Wetmore, 30.8 percent who graduated high school with the Class of 2010 also graduated with a post secondary degree. As a whole, the district performed well above state averages.

Evans presented the board with the year-to-date expenditures comparing expenses from July 1, 2015 through June 15, 2016, with expenses from July 1, 2016 through June 15, 2017. To date, the district has spent $95,591.21 less this year than the previous year from the general, supplemental general, 4-year-old at-risk, K-12 at-risk, food service, professional development and vocational funds. The district has spent $180,640.40 more from the capital outlay fund.

Evans provided the board with information about the CAPs program in Wetmore, which is the alternative school offered through the Holton Special Education Cooperative. Beginning Jan. 1, that building will be transitioned to accommodate elementary school students rather than secondary students, he said. The cooperative has decided that there is more need in the elementary age range.

Evans reported to the board on the Kansas High School Activities Association classification proposal. The classification proposals were approved, and will be implemented in the 2018-19 school year.

Evans presented enrollment numbers currently projected for the 2017-18 school year. The district as a whole is down by about 23 students. These figures are preliminary, Evans said. Enrollment numbers tend to go up and not down from here, he said. Enrollments will likely see more changes by the time school starts in August.

Evans presented information to the board on district valuation. Valuation in the district has increased 8.92 percent, he said.

Wetmore Preschool

The request to add a preschool program at Wetmore Elementary School was brought back to the board for the third consecutive meeting, after being initially presented in April, and discussed again in May. Superintendent Evans told board members that a decision “needs to be made today.”

WAC Principal Boden presented information to the board regarding the request to add a preschool program at WES. Wetmore currently does not have a preschool program, while other district schools Sabetha and Axtell both do.

Following Boden’s presentation, the board discussed the request, and ultimately voted 3-3. For lack of a majority, the motion to approve the request failed. Voting in favor were DeMint, Reznicek and Kuckelman. Opposed were Lippert, J. Scoby and L. Scoby.

See detailed report beginning on Page 1A of this week’s Herald.

Wetmore Elementary Position

The board approved the reduction of an elementary position at Wetmore, as a result of schedule changes that will largely combine the third and fourth grade classrooms.

SHS Digital Display Sign

A proposal has been presented by Saylor Insurance Service to provide the school with a replacement digital display sign at SHS, to replace the current calendar sign.

The cost of the sign is a little more than $47,000, and it would be donated by Saylor Insurance Service and would include the business’ name on the sign. Evans informed board members that board policy states any advertising must be approved by the board.

Reznicek said he supports the sign, but he feels there are long term implications to allow advertising the business on the sign. He said he believes it could “start to become a problem.”

Lippert said she believes the board could take each issue up as it comes, and she sees there being “more and more public-private partnerships” in the future. She said she believes it is good to allow community members to be recognized for their donations.

Reznicek said he is hesitant to allow public facilities to be “branded.”

Kuckelman said that Axtell does have names on scoreboards in its gymnasium.

DeMint said he believes it is okay as long as it continues to be done on a case-by-case basis. He said the Sabetha baseball and softball teams are playing on fields that have advertising.

The sign was approved, 6-0.

SMS Gym Railing

SMS Principal Garber said he was approached by a patron with a concern about the gymnasium bleachers, as they do not have railings. The complete bid for the project is $6,694.54, and Garber said the patron is willing to donate funds to the USD No. 113 Foundation to pay for the railing project. The board voted to proceed with the project.

Also at the meeting:

SHS Principal Harmer provided an update on the construction progress of the SHS Plant and Soil Science Lab.

Superintendent Evans reported to the board on the recently approved Senate Bill 19 school finance legislation. The legislation will add approximately $600,000 to the district’s budget for the 2017-18 school year, Evans said.

The board approved student fees for the 2017-18 school year.

The board approved the Memorandum of Understanding with area law enforcement. Evans said he did not believe this would affect the way USD No. 113 handles issues at this time. The purpose of the memorandum is to keep the district in compliance with SB 367, he said, which has as a goal to reduce the number of law enforcement referrals by schools.

The board gave Evans the authority to close out the Fiscal Year 2017. The board appointed Jeff DeMint and Leslie Scoby to serve on the USD No. 113 Foundation Board during the 2017-18 school year.

The board will meet in special session on Thursday, July 20, for information on the Kansas Open Meetings Act and Boardsmanship. Board member Kuckelman asked if this should wait until January after the election.

The board’s next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, July 10, at the district office in Sabetha.

Amber Deters123 Posts

Amber Deters is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2005. She specializes in school board, election and legislative reporting, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Amber is a 2005 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in journalism and mass communications, print journalism sequence. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and three children.


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