Prairie Hills USD No. 113 9.9.19

The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education met at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at the district office in Sabetha. Board members present were Ed Reznicek, Kathy Lippert, Jim Scoby, Leslie Scoby, Ann Shaughnessy and Jeff DeMint. Board member Kent Saylor was absent.

The board adopted the agenda as amended.

The board approved the consent agenda, including the following: minutes from the Aug. 12 regular meeting; September bills of $381,946.40; August payroll of $461,185.96; a personal day request from Anne Werner; site councils; permission to sell van number 13, a 2002 Ford Windstar, to the highest bidder; and a number of resignations and contracts.

Resignations included the following: Pete Schuetz as Scholars Bowl sponsor at Sabetha Middle School, and Hunter Howerton as assistant wrestling coach at Sabetha High School. Contracts included the following: Megan Peabody, assistant volleyball coach at SMS; Jasper Frazee, assistant football coach at SMS; Lynn Hartter, assistant secretary at SMS; Patricia Krogman, instructional support staff and lunch duty at Axtell Public School; Bruce Gunter, volleyball coach at Axtell Junior High; Tresa Burger, Scholars Bowl sponsor at SMS; Debra Damman, board clerk for USD No. 113; and Cole Geison, assistant wrestling coach at SHS.

DeMint said that applications are due soon for the Appleseed Grant, through the USD 113 Foundation. Currently, he said, the Foundation has approximately $550,000 in endowed funds.

Lippert said she had no legislative update at this time.

The board received written reports from Director of Student Learning Jennifer Gatz, and principals David Glynn, Matt Garber, Sara Toedman, Rick Schnacker and Jayson Tynon. Positive photos were shown from each building.

Glynn shared information with the board about a proposal to complete an outdoor area — with plantings as well as concrete path and patio area — adjacent to the Plant and Soil Science Lab. A donation of concrete has been offered, and the remainder of the cost would be covered by the Sabetha FFA and FFA Alumni.

Lippert asked Tynon how the after school program has been going. Tynon said it has gone very well so far, and numbers have been good — with a high of 14 in August, and some days with 17 or 18 students so far in September.

Commenting on the report from Schnacker, J. Scoby said he is concerned that only 14 athletes are out for football at Wetmore High School this year. He believes it had been discussed that the team would have at least 15 athletes. Superintendent Todd Evans said he understands that Schnacker, who also is the football coach, has been looking into six-man football. Lippert said it would be important for him to also gather information about how far away the games would be with six-man football. Principal Tynon said that football numbers fluctuate, and Axtell also only has 14 out this year.

Superintendent’s Report

Enrollment: Superintendent Evans shared information taken from early September. Currently, the district has an full-time equivalency enrollment of 1,063.7, which is down approximately 23 — from 1,086.5 FTE last year. Each campus has experienced a drop in numbers. Lippert asked if the board could receive an update on enrollment at each board meeting, to see if the numbers change a little or a lot throughout the school year.

Year-to-Date Expenditures: Evans shared information on the year-to-date expenditures, but he shared that the figures are a bit skewed from last year since school started a week later.

Bond Burning: A bond retirement celebration was held on Aug. 28, to celebrate the bonds being retired for the former USD No. 488. Because the district was able to reduce the interest rates through refinancing in 2005 and again in 2014, the bonds were paid off a year early and saved $258,237 to taxpayers in the former USD No. 488 over the course of the bonds.

Kansas Communities That Care Survey: Evans shared information from this survey with board members. Approximately 87 percent of students took the survey. Superintendent Evans shared that the school district was above state average for students who reported being bullied. Evans said he plans to put an anonymous bullying form on the district website, which would be submitted to him.

SHS Football

Sabetha’s high school football team has 63 players out, and Evans said he believes those numbers warrant a sixth coach for the 2019 season. The board approved a sixth coach for the 2019 season.

Strategic Plan

Superintendent Evans shared that he had made the adjustments to the Strategic Plan as suggested by the board at the August meeting.

Regarding the Standards of Solvency and Viability, originally approved in October 2016, Evans said Board Member Kent Saylor has an idea to adjust the allocation of revenue. However, since Saylor is not present, Evans said he would like to table that information for a future meeting.

Capital Outlay Resolution

The board considered Resolution 2019-7, which would extend the board’s authority to levy taxes for capital outlay in an amount not to exceed 6 mills. The current fiscal year was the final year in the five-year cycle, so this resolution would start a new five-year cycle.

J. Scoby asked what the mill levy has been for the past few years. It has been below 4.5 for the past three years, but before that it was at 6 mills for a number of years.

J. Scoby said he hesitates to do anything that could result in raising taxes.

Shaughnessy said she does not believe the district uses more than it needs.

Reznicek said capital outlay allows the board to stay on top of facility needs.

The board approved the resolution, 5-1. J. Scoby was opposed.

See Resolution 2019-7 on Page 9A of this week’s Herald.

Clay Target League

Evans said the idea of participating in the Clay Target League was brought to him by SHS Athletic Director Scott Burger, following a request from a student’s family. In further looking into the Clay Target League, Burger found that Nemaha Central already has a team and brings in students from around the area, and would be willing to do a cooperative with Sabetha, as well.

Shaughnessy asked if all three high schools could participate. Evans said he doesn’t see why not, but the decision would need to be made by the next day.

Nemaha Central currently has volunteer coaches for the program, so any schools that join into the cooperative would not be responsible for supporting a coaching salary or any other costs. The program would be looked at as a voluntary club, and the district would not pay any costs for competitions or travel.

The board approved the allowance for any of the district’s three high schools to enter into a cooperative agreement with Nemaha Central if they would like, at no expense to the district.

Tower Proposal

Superintendent Evans shared that the school district had been approached as a potential property owner for a new 150-foot-tall cell phone tower, which would have a 40-foot by 40-foot footprint. Evans showed a few potential sites to the board.

If a tower were constructed on district property, the lease amount likely would be between $400 and $500 per month, Evans said, which seems comparable to what other school districts are paid who have towers on their property in similar sized communities.

Evans said it is not yet certain that the company wishes to use district property, but asked if the board would be interested in more information in the event that it would. Board members indicated that they would like more information.

Facility Study

Superintendent Evans presented information to the board about the possibility of hiring an architect to do a facility study at Sabetha Elementary School. Evans said he has a concern with all of the buildings that use older boiler systems, but he would like to limit the parameters of the study at this time.

L. Scoby said she hears a comment at least once a week about SES, so she thinks a facility study would be a good idea.

Evans mentioned two architects as options — David Heit and Robert Hansen. Board members indicated that they were okay with Evans reaching out to both Heit and Hansen to get quotes on a facility study.

Negotiations

The board entered into executive session to discuss employee compensation, with the board members and Evans present.

Following executive session, the board approved the negotiated agreement with the Prairie Hills Education Association for the 2019-20 school year, with an average increase in pay and benefits to teachers of 4.9 percent, but overall cost to the district of just an additional 3.5 percent.

The board entered into executive session to discuss administrative compensation, with the board members and Evans present.

Following executive session, the board approved administrative compensation for the 2019-20 school year. Administrators received a 3 percent salary increase.

Also at the meeting:

The board approved textbook waiver requests, and authorized Superintendent Evans to approve future requests.

The board approved a sublease with Clearwire Spectrum Holdings II, LLC, for bandwidth the district owns.

Amber Deters122 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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