Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education
The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education (BOE) met at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, at the Sabetha Middle School. Board members present were Anissa Bloom, Kathy Lippert, Jim Scoby, Leslie Scoby, Kent Saylor, Phillip Buessing and Stan Keim.
Steve Sheldon and Analyssa Noe spoke to the board members regarding the potential closure of Wetmore Academic Center (WAC).
Lippert gave a legislative update.
The board received written reports from building administrators Nathan Bauman, Rusty Willis, Matt Garber, Rick Schnacker and Gay Frazee, as well as Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Gatz.
Before accepting the consent agenda, Lippert requested that item “A” be pulled from the agenda to discuss. The item states “Approve minutes from the January 9, 2023 regular board meeting.”
Lippert wanted to make a note that the patron hand-out, included with the minutes, was not an official document from the district. The hand-out from the patron included the district’s logo and was worded in a way that might lead an individual to believe that it is an official district document, so she wanted to make it known that it was not actually official.
The board approved the motion, 7-0, to accept items “B” through “L” in the consent agenda. The board also approved the motion, 7-0, to accept Lippert’s note about the patron hand-out on item “A” in the consent agenda.
The board approved the consent agenda as amended, including the following: minutes from the Feb. 4 special BOE meeting; February bills for the amount of $524,590.34; January payroll for the amount of $773,742.05; pay AHRS from Capital Outlay in the amount of $286,745.19; pay Civium Architects from the Contingency Fund in the amount of $8,071.02; donations: approve Angel Fund donation to the Sabetha Elementary School (SES), 2022-23 Appleseed Innovative Program Development Fund donation, Casey’s donation to SES, and donation from the Sabetha Community and Kent P. and Donna Saylor to the USD 113 Sabetha High School (SHS) Extracurricular Activities Fund; approve calendar for 2023-24; approve KASB recommended policy changes; first read of Naloxone Administration for Opioid Overdose Policy; resignations of Ashley Griffith as Axtell Middle School teacher, Deb Ronnebaum as Social Studies teacher portion of contract, Doug Leiker as Sabetha High School Cross Country coach, Meggan Ring as Sabetha Food Service worker, and Johanna Brockhoff and Laura Edelman as SHS Co-Stuco Sponsors; and contracts with Joe Gruber as SHS assistant baseball coach and Stephanie Plattner as SES Instructional Support Staff, from half-time to full-time.
Superintendent Evans reported on year-to-date expenses and other topics as follows:
Expense Comparison: The expense comparison from February 2022 through February 2023, compared with the same time frame last year, showed the district has spent $284,103 more/less 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 $1,860,028 more from the capital outlay fund, and $104,986 less from the special education fund.
Big 7 League Merger: Evans shared with the board members an email from the SHS Athletic Director Scott Burger regarding a potential merger between the Mid East League and our league. Schools included in the Mid East League are Rossville, Silver Lake, Wabaunsee, St. Marys, Rock Creek and Riley County. Rock Creek is leaving and the Mid East League approached the Big 7 League to join/merge with us. This proposal will include the Sabetha Middle and High Schools. No decisions have been made at this time.
Driver’s Education: Evans told the board that, due to the difficulty of finding a licensed individual to fill the driver’s education position, USD 113 is not planning to offer driver’s ed in the summer this year.
Petition: Evans shared information about the petition to disorganize USD 113 presented by some individuals of Wetmore.
Potential Closure of WAC
Lippert started off the discussion with a motion to accept Resolution 23-4-2-04, which will authorize the board to close the Wetmore Academic Center at the end of the 2022-23 school year. The motion was seconded by J. Scoby and discussion began. The board members made their final remarks regarding the potential closure of WAC and then voted by roll call to accept Resolution 23-4-2-04.
The board approved Resolution 23-4-2-04, five to two, with Lippert, L. Scoby, J. Scoby, Keim and Saylor voting to accept the resolution, and Bloom and Buessing voting not to accept the resolution.
More about this part of the meeting can be read beginning on Page 1 of the Feb. 15 issue of The Sabetha Herald.
Axtell Fitness Center
Superintendent Evans let the board know that the Axtell Economic Development Corporation has proposed a community-driven fitness center, and it could potentially be built on land owned by USD 113 – south of the Axtell Public School greenhouse. The board members were willing to sell this land to an Axtell community group for them to build a fitness center if they decide to. The board did not make a motion on this item, but may do so in the future when more information is presented.
Also at the meeting:
Board members went into a 25-minute executive session for consultation with an attorney as allowed under KOMA for attorney-client privilege. Present for the executive session were the board members, Superintendent Evans, Assistant Superintendent Gatz, Attorney Martin Mishler and Kansas Association of School Boards Attorney Lori Kopp.
After the executive session, Evans wanted to make it clear that the district is not planning to implement a reduction in force in consideration of the closure of Wetmore — all teachers and classified staff would be offered positions in the school district. He also told the board that, because the board decided to close WAC at the end of the school year, USD 113 and the Prairie Hills Education Association will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding.
This document will offer an early retirement bonus and retirement incentive to licensed and administrative staff members if the board chooses to accept the Memorandum. According to the document, “for the 2022-23 school year, the USD 113 Board of Education will re-open district retirement options for those who qualify within the district if written notification is given between February 15, 2023 and February 21, 2023.” Evans recommended the board extend the date from Feb. 15 to Feb. 24 due to the closure of WAC.
The board members approved the motion, with all in favor, to offer early retirement bonus and retirement incentive for licensed staff who qualify with a new extended date from Feb. 15 to Feb. 24. The board also approved the motion, with all in favor, to provide the same benefits to administrative staff for the same amount of time.
Evans also talked to the board members about transferring land, which wouldn’t happen until the 2024-25 school year if the board decides to transfer land. He explained that bond debt will stay with the land if it is transferred, but lease purchase debt does not stay with the land.
To work through this topic, Evans recommended three board members — Bloom, Saylor and Keim — to form a transition committee with Evans. The board approved the motion, with all in favor, for Bloom, Saylor, Keim and Evans to be a part of a transition committee.
To view the meeting on YouTube, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GIyVLLWLkQ. To watch the Superintendent’s report of the meeting, visit https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c0n2DIVyfj7.
The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 13, in Sabetha.