Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education

The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education (BOE) met at 6 p.m. Monday, March 9, at the district office in Sabetha. Board members present were Ed Reznicek, Kathy Lippert, Kent Saylor, Jim Scoby and Ann Shaughnessy. Not present were Leslie Scoby and Jeff DeMint.

The board adopted the agenda as amended.

The board approved the consent agenda as amended, including the following: minutes from the Feb. 10 meeting; March bills for the amount of $264,607.80; February payroll for the amount of $724,811.09; acceptance of an anonymous donation of $1,350 to help with Sabetha High School lunch balances; resignations of Jessica Atwood as a 43 percent teacher at Wetmore Academic Center – effective at the end of 2019-20, Gary Hartley as SHS evening custodian – effective June 1, 2020, and Shannon Garrett as Sabetha Elementary School teacher – effective at the end of 2019-20; contracts with Kortney Stallbaumer as SES teacher, Jobi Wertenberger as SES teacher, Loduska Drew as SES teacher, Alex McAfee as Sabetha Middle School assistant track coach and Ilene Huffman as SHS/WAC Summer School; and no Sabetha Kindergarten on April 17, 2020; and personal day requests for Linda White and Christine Krebs.

Mark Schurter of Sabetha came before the board to express his concern about the board’s plans to increase the mill levy, which will increase Schurter’s property taxes. He hopes the board will consider the concern of the taxpayers who are paying taxes, and hopes the board will consider “amending their budget in a way that would fit into the current allocation a little easier.”

Lippert extended her appreciation, on behalf of the board, to the anonymous donation for SHS lunch balances.

Lippert reported on the legislation regarding bills currently being watched. She spoke about a House resolution and Senate resolution honoring the 30th anniversary of the Parents As Teachers program on March 4.

Scoby extended his condolences, on behalf of the board, to Rick Schnaker for the loss of his mother.

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

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Evans reported on year-to-date expenses and other topics as follows:

Expense Comparison: The expense comparison from July 1, 2019, through March 7, 2020, compared with the same time frame last year, showed the district has spent $124,283.55 more in the general, supplemental general, 4-year-old at-risk, K-12 at-risk, food services, professional development and vocational funds. During the same time frame, the district has spent $385,243.37 less from the capital outlay fund, and $11,685.09 less from the special education fund.

Bonds: Evans informed the board that he received an email from Sara Barnes, with the school finance department at the Kansas State Department of Education, informing him that the district’s anticipated State aid for the bonds from former USD 441 will decrease, based on their estimates, from 23 percent to 19 percent.

SHS Wrestling Room: Evans advised the board that conversations have continued regarding a privately funded wrestling room outside SHS. Evans was contacted by a contractor who called him about details on the project. Evans reminded the board that they are in control and have the final say in project plans, even if they receive gifts or proposals. Details of the project have not been disclosed at this time.

COVID-19: Evans provided information regarding COVID-19 and guidelines for schools to help prevent the illness from spreading further. He shared information for Kansas districts dealing with potential identified cases, and the possibility of school districts allowing students to leave but staying open and keeping teachers present to continue providing instruction electronically for kids at home. Evans said all the district buildings recently have heightened their efforts to disinfect high-touch surfaces.

Stop Trafficking: Evans spoke briefly about the Stop Trafficking program that was presented to parents and middle and high school students in the district. He said child trafficking is happening in Kansas and everyone needs to be aware and cautious of the situation.

Parents As Teachers

Brandy Edelman and Traci Hinton, representatives for Parents As Teachers (PAT), came before the board to advise the members about the PAT program. They said the Northeast Kansas program received the Blue Ribbon Affiliate Award this past fall for reaching benchmarks and doing best practice for early education. They also presented a PAT proposal for fiscal year 2021, which requests 4.5 units at $21,750 in local funds. These numbers are not finalized as they are waiting for the Keystone Learning Services board to approve their budget. Evans made the suggestion to wait for the finalized proposal before the board votes on it. No action was taken at this time.

Wetmore Staff

Wetmore plans to increase their efficiency by finding ways to do more combining of classes. To keep up with supervisory help, Wetmore plans to hire an additional Instructional Support Staff (ISS) member for less than half-time employment. Board members approved the motion to hire additional part-time ISS staff at Wetmore, not to exceed half-time employment.

Board members also approved the motion to reduce the Wetmore teaching staff by 0.43 Full Time Equivalency (FTE) of a teacher for FY21.

Facilities Tour

Board members discussed touring the district campuses during school hours to make plans for facility improvements. The board needed to choose a date, a time and which buildings to tour. The board decided that all members present will tour Axtell, SES and Wetmore, starting at 8 a.m. Friday, March 13. The members will start at Axtell, then Sabetha and lastly at Wetmore. A motion was made and all members approved.

Architect Interviews

In order to start district improvements, the board needs to hire an architect. Board members discussed parameters for the presentations the architects need to make for their interviews. The main parameter was a limitation on the project expenditure amount – to avoid overspending. Evans advised the board that he will create a presentation guideline for the interviewees. Interviewees are HTK Architects, Civium Architecture and Planning, and Robert Hansen of Hansen Design/Architects.

The board also discussed a time and day when the interviews will take place. Board members approved the motion to hold a special BOE meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, to interview architects.

Transportation Policy

Board members reviewed and discussed the current Transportation policy for Prairie Hills USD No. 113 facilities. Discussion included the possibility of extending the school bus route distance outside the district, distance and time restrictions for transporting students from another district, the possibility of charging extra for transporting students outside the district boundaries and whether the district will gain new students if the bus route distance is increased, or if another route is added. No action was taken at this time.

Capital Outlay Resolution (20-4-3-11)

The board discussed the possibility of adopting a resolution to increase the capital outlay to seven mills for six years, compared to the resolution of six mills for five years that was passed at the Sept. 9, 2019, meeting.

During the March meeting, the board had a thorough discussion regarding the resolution. Board members also discussed the idea of raising the capital outlay to eight mills. J. Scoby does not approve of raising the mill rate. He said he does not think it is necessary and believes Prairie Hills should stay with its current mill levy.

“We are talking about creating more of a burden on the entire district for higher taxes. You’re talking about raising from 4.3 to 7 mills,” J. Scoby said.

“I fully agree that we need to make some improvements in infrastructure to keep it viable for another 10, 15, 20, 30 years – no question about that. But, I think we need to live within the means that we’ve got,” J. Scoby said. “We have the ability to raise the mill levy from 4.3 to six right now – we can do that. That’s 1.7 mills times roughly 120,000 – you’re looking at raising an additional $200,000 per year…  I don’t like the idea of raising taxes and putting a bigger burden on everybody.”

Saylor said the mill increase was presented in order to cover any major emergencies that might appear, and to fund for future improvement projects.

“The only reason to even consider going to seven mills is just in case something really went wrong – right now, we aren’t even at six, so we’re trying to be very prudent,” Saylor said.

Lippert made a motion to approve the adoption of Capital Outlay Resolution (20-4-3-11), to raise the capital outlay to seven mills for six years. The motion was approved 4-1, with Scoby opposed.

Summer School Maintenance

Board members discussed hiring an additional full-time temporary position to help with maintenance and other projects at the district for 12 weeks during the summer. The board approved hiring six people for summertime help.

Also at the meeting:

Evans informed the board that job descriptions for the Superintendent and Director of Student Learning have been updated.

Board members went into a 10-minute executive session for the purpose of discussing confidential student information under the KOMA exception to discuss matters relating to actions adversely or favorably affecting a student. Present for the executive session were the board members, Evans, Gatz and Glynn. No action was taken following the executive session.

The board went into a 10-minute executive session for the purpose of discussing non-elected personnel under the KOMA exception for non-elected personnel. Present for the executive session were the board members, Evans, Tynon and Gatz. The executive session was closed, then reopened for an additional five minutes. Present were the board members, Evans, Tynon and Gatz. No action was taken following the executive sessions.

The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, April 13, at Axtell Public School.

March 13, 2020

The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education (BOE) met at 8 a.m. Friday, March 13, at Axtell for a special meeting to tour the district facilities. Board members present were Kathy Lippert, Kent Saylor and Ann Shaughnessy. Absent were members Jim Scoby, Leslie Scoby and Jeff DeMint. Others present were Superintendent Todd Evans, Board Clerk Deb Damman and Axtell Principal Jason Tynon.

Tynon provided a tour of the Axtell facilities.

At 9 a.m., the board members adjourned the meeting.

At 9:45 a.m. at Sabetha Elementary School, the board reconvened the meeting. Sabetha Elementary Principal Sara Toedman provided a tour of the facilities.

At 10:45 a.m., the board members adjourned the meeting.

At 11:14 a.m., the board reconvened the meeting at Wetmore Academic Center. Joe Claycamp provided a tour of the Wetmore facilities.

The special meeting was adjourned at 11:47 a.m.

Erin Herrmann25 Posts

Erin Herrmann is a reporter at The Sabetha Herald. She specializes in school board reporting, features and advertising design.

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