Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education 3.12.18

The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education met at 5:15 p.m. Monday, March 12, at the Sabetha Middle School office in Sabetha. Following a building tour at Sabetha Middle School, board members re-convened for their regular meeting at the district office in Sabetha.

Board members present were Ed Reznicek, Kathy Lippert, Kent Saylor, Jim Scoby, Leslie Scoby, Ann Shaughnessy and Jeff DeMint.

The board approved the agenda as amended.

The board approved the consent agenda, including minutes from the Feb. 12 meeting, payment of March bills of $197,258.10, payment of February payroll of $691,636.22, personal/dock day requests for Christa Schuette and Nicolas Richardson, designation of Kansas Association of School Board legal assistance representative as the district’s long-term suspension and expulsion hearing officer, two resignation and four contracts.

Resignations approved were for Shawna Bitts, Sabetha High School science teacher; and Lisa Lyons, Sabetha Elementary School preschool. Contracts approved were for Elizabeth Badertscher as SHS building leadership team member; Johanna Brockhoff as SHS English teacher; Keyanna Kocher as Axtell School science teacher; and Shelly Schmelzle as SES instructional support staff.

Board members received administrative reports from principals Sheri Harmer, Matt Garber, Sara Toedman, Rick Schnacker and Jayson Tynon, and Director of Student Learning Jennifer Gatz.

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Todd Evans presented the year-to-date expense comparison. To date, compared with the same timeframe last year, the district has spent $350,538.22 more in general, supplemental general, at risk, food service, professional development and vocational funds.

This was expected, Evans told the board, as the district had budgeted to spend more. During the same timeframe, the district has spent about $67,000 less from capital outlay, and about $8,000 less from special education.

Superintendent Evans presented enrollment information as of March 11, 2018.

Both Sabetha and Wetmore have seen a slight increase from the September count — Wetmore at 144, and Sabetha at 778. Axtell saw a slight reduction from the September count, with current enrollment at 172.

Superintendent Evans presented preschool information. Axtell has a potential for 13 students, and Wetmore has a potential for 12 students. Students have not yet been screened. There has been a discussion about adding a 3-year-old preschool at Wetmore and Axtell, but Evans said he would be hesitant to consider that at this point.

Sabetha’s state preschool has had 24 applications, with 23 already qualified. That program is capped at 24 students.

Saylor questioned whether the community preschools in Sabetha were full, or whether any students were unable to be served as a result of the district capping Sabetha’s program at 24 students. L. Scoby said she knows the preschools are full, but she is not aware of any children being “turned away.”

The difficulty, Gatz said, is that children who come into the community in the middle of the year typically have more needs that can make it harder to serve them at the community preschools.

Toedman said it is a concern that their preschool is already considered “full” in mid-March.

“We enrolled a month early to have an idea earlier on, and we are already what I would consider full,” Toedman said.

Lippert asked if they could have more information at the next board meeting.

Gatz said she would recommend having another meeting with community preschool leaders, and that information could be brought back to the next board meeting.

SHS Press Box

The only bid received for the Sabetha High School press box proposal was a bid was received for $95,702 from Edelmans Home Center, of which the board agreed to be responsible for half up to $60,000 with the Booster Club responsible for the other half. Half of this bid would be $47,851. The board accepted the bid from Edelmans for the SHS press box.

This bid did not contain a sound system, although it was originally discussed. A sound system has been estimated to be between $10,000 to $15,000. The board invited the Booster Club to come back with any additional requests for further consideration.

Wetmore Viability Actions

At the board’s audit and viability review in November, it was presented that the Wetmore campus had fallen below the district’s fiscal viability standards during the 2016-17 school year.

The goal for the Wetmore campus is to be back in viability compliance by the board’s review of the 2018-19 school year audit, which would take place in the fall of 2019.

In December, board members said they would like to consider the possibility of multi-age classrooms more seriously, because saving money through the combination of two or more classrooms at Wetmore could help the campus’ offset viability concerns.

In February, the school board approved the reduction of one teacher and a classroom combination as determined by Gatz and Schnacker.

The reduction will be made through attrition, as the board had accepted a teacher resignation at the same meeting. This reduction is estimated to save approximately $61,000.

At this month’s meeting, Evans told board members that — based on projected figures — Wetmore will be $187,814 from break-even at the conclusion of the 2017-18 school year.

However, it would not be as far from the viability standard. Evans said he estimates that if Wetmore loses two more students, total reductions would need to be about $82,000.

Possible reductions to consider, Evans said, would include the following: reducing one teacher’s time, making adjustments to a teacher plan to save money, eliminating an evening custodian, eliminating elementary art and elementary counselor (traveling positions from Sabetha 1/2 day per week), eliminating a teacher and crediting Wetmore for the Green Building. All of these suggested savings would save Wetmore approximately $96,000.

Reznicek said he liked having a cushion with the higher number, but the position he would be most concerned with losing at Wetmore would be the counselor. DeMint said he would like to see the district save approximately $80,000.

The board agreed that they would like to see a proposal that reduces a minimum of $80,000. Evans said he would bring a proposal to the next board meeting.

Summer Food Program

The summer food program was offered at Wetmore last summer, and the district served an average of 27 students per day. The district netted $636 last year.

The board approved offering the summer food program again this year.

Safety Issues

The board heard from Superintendent Evans on safety and security. Evans presented what the district is already doing in its buildings, as well as plans for improvement.

See full story covering safety issues beginning on front page of this week’s Herald.

Strategic Plan

The board had asked to review the strategic plan in May. Evans and Gatz updated the board on progress according to the current plan.

L. Scoby asked if school safety would be included on the next strategic plan. It was suggested that safety and security be integrated into the existing categories, when the strategic plan is next updated.

Also at the meeting:

The board approved the Food Service Request for Proposals for fiscal year 2019.

The board heard a legislative update from Lippert, as well as an Education Foundation update from DeMint.

The board entered into three executive sessions — one to discuss matters relating to employer-employee negotiations, one to discuss matters relating to actions adversely affecting a student, and the third to discuss non-elected personnel job performance. No binding action was taken following either executive session.

The board appointed members Ed Reznicek, Jeff DeMint and Leslie Scoby to serve on the negotiations committee.

Amber Deters116 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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