Governing Body: Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education

The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education met in regular session at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14, at the district office in Sabetha. Board members present included Ed Reznicek, Kathy Lippert, Kent Saylor, Jim Scoby, Leslie Scoby, Kent Kuckelman and Jeff DeMint.

Superintendent’s Report

Wetmore Vandalism: Superintendent Todd Evans reported to the board regarding the vandalism at Wetmore Academic Center that occurred the night of Wednesday, Aug. 2, to Thursday, Aug. 3.

Access was gained through a second story unlatched window, Evans said.

Sheriff Rich Vernon said the investigation is progressing, and they do have leads, Evans said.

Evans reported that he is still unsure of the total cost of damages, but he expects it to be very high.

The cleaning crew has been in the building since the Monday following the incident, and is expected to be finished Wednesday. School will be delayed by one day — now starting Friday, Aug. 18 — to give teachers time to prepare.

Reznicek reported that the damage largely amounted to “just making a huge mess of everything throughout the building.”

The varsity gym floor was damaged. Principal Rick Schnacker said it can be played on, but it will eventually need to be fixed.

In light of the vandalism, Superintendent Evans asked if the board would like him to look into surveillance systems for the buildings in the district. Following the Sabetha High School vandalism, the board chose to not pursue security systems.

Saylor said he believes the district needs to get more proactive in protecting the schools. USD No. 113 is the only school district in the area without cameras. Hiawatha, Holton and Nemaha Central all have cameras, he said.

Saylor listed incidents that have occurred in recent years, including vandalism of the SHS football field, vandalism at Bern Public School, vandalism at SHS and now vandalism at Wetmore.

“That’s not a very good track record. I’m as much concerned about that history from an insurance standpoint,” Saylor said. “They can decline services. They can raise rates. That’s just the real world. I’ve seen it happen.”

Lippert asked if a surveillance system would have helped prevent either incident, and said she would be interested to know what law enforcement thought.

Principal Jayson Tynon said he feels security cameras would be an asset, not only when school is not in session but also when it is in session — as a deterrent for thefts, among other things.

Board members were in agreement that Evans should explore options for security equipment. They asked Evans to speak to insurance, law enforcement and other schools.

Asphalt Projects: Superintendent Evans reported that he had received a few project estimates from Bettis Asphalt and Construction Company on asphalt projects at SHS and Sabetha Middle School. At SHS, it would cost $170,000 to do mill, overlay and stripping, or $39,000 for crackfill, sealcoat and striping. Evans said he was told the SHS lot is in good shape and would probably only need crackfill.

At SMS, which he was told is not in good shape, it would cost $54,000 to do mill, overlay and striping, or $18,000 for crackfill, sealcoat and striping.

Board members expressed no objections to move forward with pursuing crackfill at SHS if it can be done for less than $20,000 this fall.

Supplemental General State Aid: Superintendent Evans reported to the board regarding Supplemental General State Aid. Recent changes to state law gives school districts the opportunity to increase Supplemental General — money raised through locally levied property taxes — to 33 percent of the General Fund — from its previous maximum of 30 percent.

To do this, the board must approve a resolution, which previously the USD No. 113 Board of Education has declined to do.

For the current school year, Evans said, the district will only be receiving 6 percent state aid for the capital outlay fund and 20.69 percent state aid for the supplemental general fund. However, if the board increased its Supplemental General to 33 percent, the district could reduce the capital mill levy.

Potentially, he said, the district taxpayers could actually save about half a mill, while the district would receive an additional $250,000 or more.

While this change could not be made this year, Evans said, he would like the board to consider the resolution granting the board this authority in the future.

No board members voiced any objections to this, so Evans will bring the resolution to the September board meeting for consideration.

Summer Lunch Program: Superintendent Evans reported on the Summer Lunch Program held at Wetmore. The program was held for 31 days, and 818 meals were served. Daily participation averaged 27 children. With total federal reimbursements surpassing total costs, the district netted $636.84 providing the program.

2017-18 Budget

The proposed $16.8 million 2017-18 budget was presented to be published prior to a budget hearing. The board approved publishing the FY 2018 budget as presented.

See more budget details in story beginning on Page 1A of this week’s Herald. See Notice of Budget Hearing on Page 7A of this week’s Herald.

The budget hearing will be held during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28, at the district office in Sabetha.

Eclipse Plans

District schools will be in session during the total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. During the summer months, two trainings were offered for teachers for educational and safety training. All parents will be signing a permission slip and waiver for students to view the eclipse. Students are able to stay home with their families if parent choose to do this, Evans informed the board.

SHS students will be educated on the eclipse, and will view the eclipse on that day. Three area schools have requested to visit for the event.

SMS science teachers will be doing educational activities the first two days of school. On the day of eclipse, students will observe the eclipse.

SES will be educating students on the eclipse and viewing the eclipse. Parent volunteers will come in for the viewing, so that there will be five or less students per each adult to ensure safety during the eclipse.

Wetmore Academic Center will be doing educational and safety activities in the classroom to start the day. A former graduate of Wetmore is a scientist at Virginia Tech University, who is sending two students and equipment from the university to set up a data collection station at Wetmore. One professor will be there and present to the older students. Details about observing are still in the works, according to Principal Schnacker.

Axtell Public School also will be doing educational activities learning about the eclipse and safety. Older students will mix with younger students for the viewing.

Plant and Soil Science Lab

SHS Teacher Chris Bauerle said he is currently at a standstill until school starts. He is concerned that getting the roof on will require a special lift, because of the materials. He said he might need to hire someone to do the roof. Remaining expenses include growth tables and connections with gas and electricity.

Memorial Tree

There is a request from a number of people to plant a memorial tree for Seth Brown, a recent graduate of Wetmore. The tree would be placed at Wetmore. The board approved the request, with the understanding that placement would be decided by Principal Schnacker.

District Auction

Evans said he has been hearing that a number of items could be auctioned off from buildings in the district, including ovens, a deep freeze, student desks, etc. The board authorized Evans to move forward with arranging a district auction.

Legislative Update

Seven schools were chosen to implement the Kansans Can initiative. Evans said he will be interested to see what the state does in these schools and how it works.

Junior Achievement

Per a request from the July meeting, Superintendent Evans provided information on the Junior Achievement Program. The program can be implemented at the classroom, building or district level, and it can be implemented in numerous ways. The board agreed that, if a community member, teacher or building wished to pursue a Junior Achievement program, the board would support it. However, it would not necessarily be district sponsored.

Employee Compensation

The board entered into executive session to discuss employee compensation for negotiations. Following executive session, the board approved the negotiations package between the Prairie Hills Education Association and USD No. 113 for the 2017-18 school year. The package would approve increasing totaling $252,904.60.

The board entered into executive session to discuss administrative compensation for negotiations. Following executive session, the board approved administrative compensation increases totaling $33,243.48 for the 2017-18 school year.

Also at the meeting:

The board approved the consent agenda, including the following: July 10 minutes, July 20 minutes, payment of August bills of $309,286.45, July payroll of $373,950.43, personal day requests for Elysia McGill and Steve Peterson, proposed student trips for 2017-18, transportation rate for non-district trips of $1.82 per mile with district paid driver and $1.55 per mile with district volunteer driver, the resignation of Jeanne Edelman and a number of contracts.

Contracts included the following: Melissa Dornes, Sabetha Food Service; Kimberly Goings, Axtell Food Service; Rachel Combs, part-time secretary at Axtell; Melvin Baker, Axtell Junior High football coach; Sue Rokey, SHS forensics shared; Jacque Stallbaumer, assistant volleyball coach; Steve Peterson, Sabetha Middle School assistant volleyball coach; and Amy Mitchell, SHS and SMS piano accompanist.

The board received written reports from building administrators.

The board approved the Kansas Association of School Board recommended policy updates. The board had received the updates for review at the July board meeting.

DeMint reported that the USD 113 Foundation has been awarded grants and scholarships, including the new Appleseed grants.

The board will meet in special session at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28, at the district office in Sabetha, then in regular session at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, 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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