Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education 3.11.19

The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education met at 6 p.m. Monday, March 11, at the district office in Sabetha. Board Members present were Ed Reznicek, Kathy Lippert, Kent Saylor, Jim Scoby, Leslie Scoby and Ann Shaughnessy. Not present was Board Member Jeff DeMint.

The board adopted the agenda as amended.

The board approved the consent agenda, including the following: minutes from the Feb. 11 regular board meeting, March bills of $145,182.67, February payroll of $701,423.39, personal day/dock day request for Christa Schuette, Yalana Edelman, Connie Hutfles and Keri Strathman, and a number of resignations and contracts. Resignations included the following: Donna Elder, kindergarten teacher at Sabetha Elementary School; Holly Haufler, instructional support staff at Wetmore Academic Center; Steve Petersen, industrial technology teacher at Sabetha Middle School and Sabetha High School; Kimberly Goings, kitchen staff at Axtell Public School; and Rachael Deters, cheerleading coach at Axtell. Contracts included the following: Michelle Keim, teacher at SES; and Jayson Tynon, assistant track coach at Axtell Middle School.

Lippert presented a legislative update. There has been little to no movement on most bills she was watching, she said. The Governor did sign Senate Bill 9, regarding KPERS repayment. Superintendent Todd Evans gave a legislative update on the school funding issue.

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

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Todd Evans presented a report on multiple items to the board.

Boardsmanship: In reflecting on the board’s last meeting, Evans said, he thinks about the evolution of the school board’s meetings from five years ago compared with now. When he first came on as superintendent, he said, there was a perception that there was not much transparency. The board’s agenda was very long, and the board spent a lot of time discussing every single matter. As time has passed, feedback from the board was that the superintendent needed to take a more active role and bring less to the board, Evans said.

“Last month, we had a balance power shake-up. I think that what I heard was that board members wanted more say,” Evans said. “As I think about that evolution, I should have been able to see that coming.”

Evans said that he regrets that he did not go back over information about the process taken by the committee in selecting the iPads. Another reflection from the last board meeting, Evans said, is that he does not want to surprise board members and he would appreciate not being surprised.

“I would have appreciated knowing in advance if there was an issue or that someone wanted to talk more about a topic or would have questions. It is important when we go through these situations that we are comfortable with the process and understand the process,” Evans said.

Evans said he wants to focus on the relationship between the board and the superintendent, and he wants to ensure that board members let him know if he is not providing them with something that they need.

“My comment is that I really value what you do and how you do it, and I feel like there is a lot of trust,” Lippert said. “I probably forgot what had been done in the last year, and I apologize because I owe you the respect of letting you know when there is a burr under my saddle.”

Transportation Audit: Per the request made last month by USD No. 113 to lessen the district’s burden per the transportation audit, Superintendent Evans said that he had amended the request to the Kansas State Department of Education. He is hopeful that the district will not be responsible for $27,407 of the $39,567.

Financial Literacy: Morrill and Janes Bank will be hosting a Financial Education Seminar on Wednesday, March 27, in the Sabetha Middle School Auditorium. Attendees will include all Sabetha High School seniors, Axtell High School seniors and Wetmore High School seniors. There will be a total of an estimated 90 students in attendance.

District Career Symposium: Last year, Sabetha and Wetmore joined together for the career symposium, Evans said. This year, all three district schools will come together for the event.

Preschool Figures: Superintendent Evans presented preliminary at-risk preschool enrollment figures. At Axtell, six qualified for at-risk and 14 total are enrolled; at Sabetha, 17 qualified for at-risk; at Wetmore, six qualified for at-risk, and seven total are enrolled. Evans said he anticipates additional enrollments before the next school year.

SES Roof Leak: Evans informed board members that there has been a leak in the roof at SES, but they have been unable to fix it because of the weather. He believes it will be taken care of this week.

Open Positions: There are numerous positions open throughout the district, and they have been working hard to fill those positions, Evans said.

Lippert asked if any of these staffing decisions could blend with bringing campuses to a break-even level.

Evans said the district has not begun work on that, yet. Unless and until the board directed him in this direction, Evans said, the district would continue operating with the current standards for solvency.

“We are reacting, but we do not want to overreact right now,” Saylor said.

Food Service – Survey: High school students completed a survey sent out by food service, and Evans said he was “shocked” by the responses to a question about having enough to eat. The question asked, “Do you worry about having enough to eat?” Of the 128 responses, 5 percent of students answered “Yes, everyday,” another 5 percent answering “Yes, often,” and another 17 percent answering “Yes, sometimes.” That is a significant percentage of students with nutritional issues, Evans said.

Food Service – Breakfast after the Bell: Superintendent Evans also presented a report from Brook Brubeck on the Breakfast after the Bell program. Since the program was implemented at SMS on Feb. 4, the school has seen a 212 percent increase in breakfast participation. She noted that, in particular, SMS has experienced an 89 percent increase in free and reduced breakfast participation. At SHS, the program began on Feb. 19, and since that time the school has seen a 62 percent increase in overall breakfast participation and a 29 percent increase in free and reduced breakfasts. At Axtell, the program was implemented on March 4.

Food Service – Summer Food Program: The district has offered a Summer Food Program in the Wetmore and Goff communities the past few summers, and Evans said they intend to offer it again this summer. Board members agreed that it was a good program.

Expense Comparison: From July 1, 2018, through March 11, 2019, the district has spent $222,189.91 more in the general, supplemental general 4-year-old at-risk, K12 at-risk, food service, professional development and vocational funds. This is more than expected, Evans said, but is due to more than $160,000 in transfers at this point in the year than at this time last year. The district has spent $460,585.47 more in the capital outlay fund, which is about what was expected, Evans said. In the special education fund, the district has spent $32,167.40 less.

Positive Photos: Evans showed positive photos from Axtell and Wetmore schools.

State Aid Fiscal Year 2020: For next school year, Evans said, the estimated bond state aid for the USD No. 441 bond is 23 percent. For capital outlay, the district is anticipating no state aid. For the supplemental general fund, the district is anticipating 18.4 percent state aid — which is steadily declining, he said.

Axtell Construction Update: Construction has begun at Axtell. Demolition of the current office area is taking place. Also, Tynon said, AHRS is working to move the information technology equipment to its new area so that it will be in place by the Monday after spring break.

SHS Track: Evans has been communicating with this Pro Track and Tennis to finish the track work at SHS. At this time, he said, there are still not lines on the track.

Kickhaefer and Buessing: Evans has retained Kickhaefer and Buessing to gather the information on valuation, as requested by the board at last month’s meeting. He said they indicated that the soonest they could get the information gathered would be April.

Safe 75 Campaign

Wetmore High School student Ally Davis presented to the board regarding the Safe 75 Campaign. Davis presented a letter prepared by students from area high schools, which was presented at the State Capitol. Additionally, Davis said, they have prepared a presentation to help prepare students for driving on Highway 75. Davis asked that the board write a letter of support to go along with the campaign.

Lippert said she thinks a letter of support is appropriate. She would like to include additional information about how that stretch of Highway 75 compares to other state highways. She also wondered about providing ballpark figures of what the suggestions given in the letter by students would cost, and thought that might be interesting to include.

Davis said she could find that information and email it to Superintendent Todd Evans.

L. Scoby said she appreciates the letter, and she is pleased the students are doing more than complaining about a problem — they are trying to fix something.

Board members agreed that it would be good to write a letter of support, and have it signed by Reznicek.

SHS Football Trip

The board was presented with a request from the Sabetha High School football team to travel to Topeka on Monday, March 18, to be recognized at the State Capitol for their state championship. The team and six sponsors also would take a tour of the Capitol and meet with local legislators. The trip would require a bus driver, as well as substitute teachers to cover for the six sponsors.

Board members approved the request.

Transit Vans

The board was presented with a proposal to purchase two transit vans. Transportation Director Randy Plattner has indicated the district needs to replace two transit vans. In order to purchase a vehicle that costs more than $20,000, the district either must put it out for bid, accept the state bid, or ask a local vendor to match or beat the state bid.

The board voted to ask a local vendor to match or beat the state bid for the two transit vans.

Evans will bring purchase proposals to the next meeting.

Bus Request

Nathan Schrock, with the Amish school in Marshall County, has requested to use a bus from Axtell to take a field trip to Topeka. The district would be reimbursed $327.60, plus $10 for each hour of the bus driver’s time. The board approved the request.

Viability of Axtell Public School

Superintendent Evans provided a list of proposed actions to be taken to reduce costs at Axtell. This actions are being considered in anticipation of future viability issues, per the district’s projections for next school year.

Based on the district’s current process for determining viability, Evans said, Axtell does not have a problem. However, he said, the district is working ahead.

Pending negotiations, cost saving measures identified are as follows: removing FBLA, 765; reducing music supplemental, $3,922; classified salary through attrition, $23,418; new hire (not a guarantee), $10,000; certified reduction, $9,146; certified reduction, $6,187; eliminate ag welding, $2,026.72; Highland Community College collaboration, $14,872; and classified reduction, $6,000. The total savings identified is $76,336.72.

To explain the HCC collaboration, Evans said it is becoming more difficult to have district teachers able to teach a class according to Highland’s teacher requirements. Within a district, he said, it would be possible for a “lead teacher” to collaborate with a facilitating teacher and students still receive Highland credit. This would not only be more beneficial to the students, but would also be a large cost savings at Axtell.

For the time being, none of these cost saving measures would require the board to take any actions such as not renewing contracts or similar, Evans said. He said he believes that this list is as far as the district should go at this time, until the board has documentation indicating that Axtell is not within viability.

Also at the meeting:

The board entered into executive session to discuss personnel job performance, with the board members and Superintendent Evans present. Principal Tynon was present for the first portion of the session. Following the executive session, no binding action was taken.

The board entered into executive session to discuss negotiations information, with Superintendent Evans present. Following the executive section, no binding action was taken.

The board approved members for the district negotiations team, which will consist of Reznicek, L. Scoby and DeMint.

The next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, April 8, at Axtell Public School.

Amber Deters115 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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