Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education 4.9.18

The USD No. 113 Prairie Hills Board of Education met at 5:15 p.m. Monday, April 9, at Axtell Public School. The meeting began with a building tour, then reconvened for regular session at 6 p.m. Board Members present were Ed Reznicek, Kathy Lippert, Kent Saylor, Jim Scoby, Ann Shaughnessy and Jeff DeMint. Board Member Leslie Scoby was absent.

The board approved the agenda as amended.

The board approved the consent agenda, including minutes from the March 9 meeting, April bills of $136,643.36, March payroll of $688,885.06, the resignations of Jacque Stallbaumer as Sabetha High School assistant volleyball coach and Heather Parton as HCC Western Center driver, and personal/dock day requests for Marcia Bauerle, Monica Edelman, Pete Schuetz, Jacque Stallbaumer, Amy Mathewson and Holly Meyer.

The board received written reports from Director of Student Learning Jennifer Gatz; and building administrators Sheri Harmer, Matt Garber, Sara Toedman, Rick Schnacker and Jayson Tynon.

Gatz discussed with board members the district action plan. Each of the buildings also has been tasked with creating an action plan, she said. Principals provided these to board members.

Schnacker shared a video from Wetmore High School seniors about their experience with Individual Plans of Study.

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Todd Evans provided a year-to-date expenditure update. To date, the district has spent $843,311.54 more than the same timeframe last year. Accounting Supervisor and Board Clerk Carol Kuckelman provided information to the board regarding money she had moved from one fund to another, which is the cause for the inflated number at this time. The bottom line, Evans said, is that the district is in line with where they expected to be, which is spending more money than last year but not quite that much. Also to date, the district has spent $23,132.82 more out of capital outlay and $6,903.53 less out of special education.

Next, Evans presented preschool numbers to the board. Axtell has a total enrollment of 14, but three that did not qualify for state preschool funding. Wetmore has a total enrollment of 12, but one that did not qualify for state preschool funding. The district plans to apply for grant funding that is newly available for the students that did not qualify but serve them regardless, Evans said.

Saylor asked about ages for preschool. Gatz said that a student must be 4 years old by Aug. 1 to attend under state preschool funding. The new grant funding could be available beginning at 3 years old. A student must be 5 years old before Sept. 1 to attend kindergarten.

Evans updated the board on the Department of Labor study and the work being completed at the schools. Most of the work is completed, but he did have to request a waiver to allow a bit more time to finish. He said the district has not received any bills for the work yet.

WAC Viability

At the board’s audit and viability review in November, it was presented that the Wetmore Academic Center 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 the March 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.

The board requested that Superintendent Evans bring back a proposal for reductions and cost savings measures to help bring Wetmore Academic Center back within viability measures set by the board, setting a goal of approximately $82,000 in savings.

At this month’s meeting, Superintendent Evans brought a proposal for savings of $90,472.39 — $71,983.09 in reductions, and $18,489.29 in other cost saving measures. This reduction would give a cushion for a loss of three more students, Evans said. The board approved the reductions and cost saving measures.

Reduced were one elementary teacher for estimated savings of $61,438.51; art teacher one half day per week for estimated savings of $6,513.09; evening custodian for estimated savings of $4,031.49. Reductions totaled $71,983.09. The art teacher elimination would transfer the burden of teaching art to the classroom teachers, from the teacher who travels to Wetmore for one half day per week. The art teacher’s time will not be reduced at the district level, but rather realigned to spend that time at Sabetha Elementary School instead. Cost savings measures included green building cost sharing for savings of $5,000, adjustment to teacher plan for savings of $5,495, reduced teacher time for savings of $5,500, and an adjusted journal entry that was previously incorrect for savings of $2,494.29. Savings totaled $18,489.29.

SES Teaching Position

Toedman has a list of 74 potential kindergarten students at Sabetha Elementary School, with four of those being undecided. Toedman said they could have a few more undecided as well, but she believes they will have approximately 70 students.

With this number of students, Evans said, the kindergarten will need more than its current three sections. He asked that the board add one teaching position at SES that would align with these students, providing four sections of kindergarten next year and potentially moving where needed in future years.

The board approved the addition of one teaching position at SES.

SES Courtyard Proposal

Toedman said SES has received funds of approximately $6,700 for the Marlee Ukele Education Fund. These funds were to be used for items that would be utilized by students, but not for a memorial.

Toedman formed a committee to determine items that would be used by students, particularly that were areas of interest to Marlee. So far, they have purchased new soccer goals, an art display case and tumbling mats.

With approximately $4,400 left, one idea that came out of the committee is for a courtyard in the area where the school already has a few picnic tables. It would be a 30-foot by 30-foot concrete area with a center tree surrounded by a mosaic, and tables around it.

Toedman said the courtyard would be built at no cost to the district. The board approved proceeding with the courtyard project.

Capital Outlay Expenditures

Superintendent Evans presented capital outlay requests from administrators. Evans said there were a lot of requests, and he feels unsure about approving every request but would like to see the board approve all requests related to safety and security.

Because the item was listed as an information item, the board did not vote on whether to approve any requests. The Finance Committee will meet to evaluate the requests and bring recommendations back to the Board’s May meeting.

Safety Issues

The school district’s inservice today dealt with safety issues, and included a presentation from the School Resource Officer at Royal Valley. Board Member Jim Scoby said he felt the information presented was very good.

Evans said the district does have a lot of work to do to get its safety procedural policy updated.

One emphasis was that any policy has to allow for some fluidity, J. Scoby said.

An updated crisis plan will continue to be a top priority for the district moving forward, Evans said.

Science Textbooks K-8

New science textbooks were chosen by the science teachers and Gatz for grades kindergarten through eighth. Mystery Science would be used for grades kindergarten through second, while Elevate Science would be used for grades third through eighth, Gatz said.

J. Scoby said he was concerned about the textbooks only teaching about the theory of evolution. He would have liked other textbooks to be considered.

Gatz said they have been in the process of selecting these textbooks for the entire school year, and she believes she communicated to the board that this selection would happen this year. Saylor said it is a “little late” to have suggestions for other options at this point.

Lippert asked if a board member could, in the future, partner in textbook discussions if one was interested. Gatz said they could.

Evans said it is important to remember that the textbooks are not the curriculum, but rather tools within the teachers’ curriculum. He said he values the input of the experts within the district who have chosen these textbooks.

The board approved 4-2 the purchase of new science textbooks for grades kindergarten through eighth. Reznicek, Saylor, Shaughnessy and DeMint were in favor, while Lippert and J. Scoby were opposed. The total cost is approximately $75,000.

For science, the board also will be considering the approval of high school textbooks, as well as additional science supplies, at future meetings.

Legislative Update

The Kansas Legislature has narrowly passed a $500 million funding package — Substitute for Senate Bill 423 — for K-12 finance. It is assumed that it will be approved by Governor Jeff Colyer, Lippert said.

An error has been discovered in the “approved” bill that differs from what was “intended,” Evans told board members. It is expected that a technical change will be discussed when the Legislature returns to session on April 26.

The two versions have different outcomes for USD No. 113, Evans said. As “approved,” USD No. 113 would lose $29,000 from the previous year. As “intended,” USD No. 113 would increase $153,000.

At this point, it is still complicated and unknown, Lippert said. It also still has to get past the Supreme Court, Reznicek said.

Also at the meeting:

The board approved updated Site Council Bylaws for the district site council.

The board approved hiring five individuals for summer help for the three campuses.

The board approved SHS seniors to help with the Sabetha Citywide Clean-Up on Wednesday, April 25. This is an annual event.

The board heard an Education Foundation update. Scholarships have been turned in for this year, DeMint said.

The board approved Board Members Reznicek and DeMint to serve on the Sick Bank Committee.

The next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, May 14.

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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