Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education

The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education (BOE) met at 6 p.m. Monday, June 13, at the Sabetha Elementary School (SES) for a facility remodel and new construction update, with Alan Schmitz of AHRS leading the tour. The board members recessed to the district board office in Sabetha around 6:35 p.m. to reconvene the meeting. Board members present were Anissa Bloom, Kathy Lippert, Jim Scoby, Leslie Scoby, Kent Saylor, Phillip Buessing and Stan Keim.

The board adopted the agenda as amended.

Andy Bestwick of Sabetha, who has been in the military for 20 years, shared his concerns with the board about school security and asked questions about what the board has planned for possible school safety measures. Bestwick also brought up some ideas/thoughts he had about school safety, such as the idea of having adults be present at the doors when students arrive at school or training teachers to have a concealed carry with them during class.

“Tonight, before I came here, I drove by all the schools. The building security, to me, is very timid,” Bestwick said. “We have signs up there that say ‘no firearms allowed,’ and per the Kansas statutes, if those are visible, you’re supposed to follow those – no concealed carry. However, that’s up to the school district. If we take those signs down, anyone can have a concealed carry in the classroom. The reason I say that is, what about our teachers?

We do have some very professional people that have carried firearms their whole lives. Has the board ever thought about maybe looking into having our teachers have a concealed carry? Because really, if we have any threats at all, it’s not going to be an external threat to our children, it’s going to be internal. With that internal threat assessment, we really need to look at the continued education for our staff.”

Bestwick also shared concerns about door security and door alarms at the Sabetha schools.

“We do have security in the schools, but honestly, if anyone really wanted to, they could get in our schools at any point in time,” Bestwick said. “None of the doors have alarms on them. What if a kid opens a door on the north side of the [Sabetha] high school, does anybody know that? Does the office know that? There’s no alarms, anyone can open it – anybody can.”

Further discussion about school safety measures were brought up later during the meeting.

The board received written reports from building administrators David Glynn, Rusty Willis, Matt Garber, Rick Schnacker and Alana Seddon, as well as Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Gatz.

The board approved the consent agenda as amended, including the following: minutes from the May 9 meeting; June bills for the amount of $518,005.46; May payroll for the amount of $768,846.90; approve Athletic Trainer Contracts; pay Civium from Contingency Fund; approve payment to AHRS Lease Purchase and Capital Outlay; approve ESSER 3 Application; approve permission to sell by sealed bid a 1998 Chevy Bluebird, 21 Passenger Bus, approximately 175,000 miles; authorize Superintendent Todd Evans to close out Fiscal Year (FY) 22, BOE Approval July 11, 2022; approve participation in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program for FY 23; approve all eligible classes taught by Highland Community College for Dual Credit; approve KASB Waiver for KASB Legal; approve first read of KASB Recommended Policies; accept gift from Axtell Booster Club; accept donation from Lukert Chiropractic and Wellness to Sabetha High School (SHS) Athletics; grant permission to destroy financial records from 2016 and older; approve out of district students as presented and authorize Evans to approve/disapprove for the remainder of the FY 23 year; approve ELA Textbooks; approve donation of $2,000 from the Sabetha Community and Kent P. and Donna Saylor USD 113 SHS Extracurricular Activities Fund; resignations of Brandi Lybarger as Axtell concessions worker, Kristina Rice as assistant girls’ basketball coach at Wetmore High School, Tammy Porting as Axtell High School cheerleader sponsor, Julie Grimm as Sabetha Middle School (SMS) English/Library (half time English Language Arts teacher and half time Media Specialist) and SMS girl’s basketball coach, Carol Baumgartner as Food Service worker, Lesha Koch as SES ISS (Instructional Support Staff) and Bruce Gunter as Axtell Activities Director; contracts with Jenna Burger as SES fifth grade teacher, Kylah Foote as Wetmore Academic Center (WAC) Business teacher, Phillip Becker as Axtell Public School Music teacher, Holly Meyer as ISS half-time at SES, Brian Jones as Transportation Supervisor and Michelle Flewelling as WAC ISS.

Superintendent’s Report

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

Expense Comparison: The expense comparison from July 1, 2021, through June 1, 2022, compared with the same time frame last year, showed the district has spent $384,122 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 $623,551 more from the capital outlay fund, and $102,580 less from the special education fund.

Building Needs Assessment: Evans discussed the Building Needs Assessment with the board members. This assessment requires the school district to report on certain issues or requirements as a part of their budgeting process.

Graduation Task Force: Evans let the board know that the Kansas State Board of Education is examining graduation requirements, which may result in the USD 113 BOE to review and change USD 113’s graduation requirements to meet the standards of the State BOE.

HVAC Update: In an email Evans received from Loren Edelman, Edelman updated the board about the HVAC unit installation happening at the Sabetha, Wetmore and Axtell schools. All HVAC units are installed at Wetmore except for one unit due to a bad circuit board. Edelman also said they were scheduled to start on Axtell on Monday, June 13, but had not received the HVAC units at that time. Some items at SHS may need to be installed later than planned in order to stay on schedule, according to Edelman. 

Clean Air Transportation Grant: Evans let the board know that, according to an email he received, Prairie Hills is not considered a priority district that the Clean Air Transportation Grant would cover, meaning the impact of the grant would be minimal to school districts that are not priority. The grant would allow school districts to invest in electric buses or propane-powered vehicles. Evans thought, since the grant is not available to USD 113 as a priority school district, that it would not be worth it to apply for the Clean Air Transportation Grant.

Budget Workshop: Evans let the board know that there are three slots open for BOE members to attend a budget workshop on Thursday, June 23, at Shawnee Heights High School in Tecumseh, Kan.

Axtell GMP

Superintendent Evans presented the board members with Axtell’s Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) document from AHRS for the district Construction/Remodel Project. According to the document, the GMP for Axtell is $245,120.

According to Evans, there will be an expense added onto the project. This expense comes from the Axtell City Council, which told USD 113 that a water meter is now required to be added onto the sprinkler system being installed at Axtell Public School. The water meter expense is not part of the GMP.

The board discussed whether they would need to speak to the City Council, though they decided after some discussion that the council wouldn’t change its decision. They decided to make a motion to grant Superintendent Evans the authority to handle the water meter situation. The motion was approved with six in favor and J. Scoby opposed.

Policy EE-R

Evans showed the board an update to USD 113’s EE-R policy, which covers USD 113 food service procedures. The update states that adults will now be limited to how many times they can charge for school lunches. Total charges to each student and adult account will be limited to the cost of five lunches, according to the policy. There also was an increase to meal prices in the updated policy.

The board approved the changes to the EE-R policy with all in favor.

School Fees

According to Evans, school fees are increasing for FY 22-23, including meal prices and gate fees for sporting events. The board approved the increased fees with all in favor.

Crisis Plan

The board members discussed the school district’s current crisis plan and reviewed the staff Crisis Intervention Handbook in light of the recent Texas school shooting.

They discussed the idea of bringing in school safety professionals to train new staff members about school safety protocols. They also talked about having police officers visit the schools every so often, and improving door security and obtaining updated security cameras for the schools.

After further discussion, the board made a motion and seconded to approve the USD 113 Crisis Intervention Handbook. The motion was then open for discussion. J. Scoby presented the board members with a paper presentation of some thoughts he has about school safety and security.

After J. Scoby’s reading of his presentation, the board voted on the motion to approve the USD 113 Crisis Intervention Handbook as presented. The motion was approved with all in favor.

Also at the meeting:

The board approved, with all in favor, the transfer funds and management of the Katherine Heiman-Dick Scholarship of $24,552.99 from USD 113 to the USD 113 Foundation.

The board approved the Safe and Secure School Grant, which Evans has submitted an application for, with all in favor.

The board also approved the Mental Health Intervention Team Grant with all in favor. This grant would allow USD 113 to partner with Pawnee Mental Health for APS and Kanza Mental Health for Sabetha and Wetmore schools to enhance communication regarding therapy to students. USD 113 also applied for a grant that would allow the USD 113 school and family liaison, who is based in Sabetha, to help provide therapy to students who may not have the opportunity to seek therapy.

Board members went into a 10-minute executive session to discuss personnel matters for non-elected personnel as allowed under KOMA. Present for the executive session were the board members, Superintendent Evans and Gatz. The board extended the executive session for an additional 10 minutes. Gatz was present for half of the extended time. No action was taken following the executive session.

The board approved the Negotiated Agreement with PHEA for 2022-23 with all in favor.

The board members approved administrative salaries for 2022-23, which increased 3.17 percent.

To watch the Superintendent report on the meeting, visit https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c312lRV3BjX.

The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, July 11, at the district office in Sabetha.

Erin Herrmann96 Posts

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

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