Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education 3.13.2023
The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education (BOE) met at 6 p.m. Monday, March 13, in the Sabetha Middle School (SMS) commons area. 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.
Corey Bloom spoke on behalf of the Wetmore community and asked the board to send out surveys to Wetmore families and land owners before any land is transferred to determine where they plan to enroll their children, so land valuation money will follow the students to whichever schools they attend. He also asked that the board take their time and slow down before making any big decisions since no land transfers will go into effect until July 2024.
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.
The board approved the consent agenda as amended, including the following: minutes from the Feb. 13 meeting; March bills for the amount of $587,800.23; February payroll for the amount of $779,763.93; accept a donation of $550 from the Sabetha Community and Kent P. and Donna Saylor USD 113 Sabetha Fine Arts Fund; accept a donation from Jerry Grimm – Grimm Poker Run – for $2,390 for Sabetha Elementary School (SES) students; approve hiring of up to five positions for Summer Help; approve Kindergarten Roundup for SES on April 21 (no Kindergarten that day at SES); approve BOE meetings and graduation dates for the 2023-24 school year; approve May 17 as last day for Wetmore Academic Center (WAC) students and May 18 as a work day for staff members; add third track coach for Axtell High School; add fifth track coach for SMS; approve $1,734.20 donation from the Appleseed Fund from the USD 113 Foundation for playground equipment; resignations of Barbara Clowe as Language Arts at WAC, Linda Hopp as Concessions at Axtell Public School (APS), Leigha Papa as Concessions and National Honor Society at APS, Keith Cole as custodian at Sabetha High School (SHS), Mary Henry as secretary at SMS, Rick Schnacker as Principal at WAC and Phillip Becker as APS music teacher; contracts with Lexi Meyer as SES Instructional Support Staff, Andrew Lillie as SES Principal, Aaron Duryea as Axtell High School assistant track coach; request for leave without pay for Kortney Stallbaumer; and a personal day requests for Briana Evans and Christa Schuette.
Superintendent Todd Evans reported on year-to-date expenses and other topics as follows:
Expense Comparison: The expense comparison from March 2022 through March 2023, compared with the same time frame last year, showed the district has spent $363,999 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 $2,197,279 more from the capital outlay fund, and $123,387 less from the special education fund.
Driver’s Education: T. Evans let the board know that the driver’s education instructor position still has not been filled, so there will be no driver’s ed this year in USD 113.
Radon: T. Evans reported on the radon levels which were found in the custodial area of APS. He said one process was tried to fix the problem, but it was not successful in bringing the radon levels down. T. Evans said the board members will talk about this topic again during the April board meeting to figure out another way to resolve this issue.
Yellow Frog Graphics: T. Evans let the board know that he is concerned about a few schools in the district for safety reasons. He also said Yellow Frog Graphics of Saint Joseph, Mo., sent a proposal to the district to install perforated window graphics at the Sabetha Elementary and High Schools, and at the Axtell school. These window graphics, relating to the schools’ logo, will help block some visibility inside the schools from the outside. The proposal includes the east entrance at SES, the south entrance at SHS and the south entrance at APS. Yellow Frog Graphics would install the graphics at the Sabetha schools for $3,125.72. T. Evans said he has not received a price yet for Axtell. T. Evans hopes this project will be completed during the summer.
Memorandum of Understanding: Superintendent T. Evans and the board spoke briefly about the Memorandum of Understanding and its extended deadline which the board members approved during the February BOE meeting. This document would allow licensed and administrative staff members to receive an early retirement bonus and retirement incentive due to the closure of WAC, if they were interested in applying for it.
Axtell Fitness Center
Jayson Tynon was present via Zoom to speak to the board about the proposed Axtell Fitness Center. He presented a 3D image of what the fitness center will look like inside. He requested that some of the district’s land be transferred to an Axtell Fitness Center organization, once it has been approved as a legal entity, to start the project. T. Evans said a land transfer should be good to go, and the board is willing to donate some land for the fitness center, though a legal description of the land transfer needs to be completed before the board can approve the transfer.
Tynon also requested the district pay for or take care of custodial services at the fitness center to keep it clean. T. Evans was concerned about this because custodial services are already scarce in the current district facilities.
Superintendent T. Evans presented an email from WAC principal Schnacker to the board regarding WAC sports uniforms and warmups. Schnacker proposed that the uniforms and warm-ups be made available firstly for present and past athletes to take since WAC will be closing at the end of the school year. Once athletes have been given an opportunity to obtain the uniforms/warm-ups, Wetmore alumni and community members may get an opportunity to acquire the uniforms/warm-ups. T. Evans thought Schnacker could be in charge of this since he’s done it before when he was principal at the former Bern school. The board approved the motion, with all in favor, for Schnacker to take care of the sports uniforms and warm-ups.
T. Evans let the board know that the plan is for B. Evans and Dana Michael, part-time teachers at WAC, to have full-time positions at the Sabetha schools. T. Evans also said the plan is for WAC teachers to let him know if they’re interested in applying for available teaching positions in Sabetha.
T. Evans also told the board that some WAC students have been attending Highland Community College Western Center classes during the school year as juniors. T. Evans indicated that the plan is to provide the opportunity for next year’s seniors, who had attended WAC, to continue to attend the Western Center while finishing their high school classes as USD 113 virtual students.
T. Evans let the board know that Wetmore City representative Mike Clowe visited with him on March 10 and let him know that the City of Wetmore is interested in owning the property currently owned by USD 113 in Wetmore.
T. Evans also let the board know that efforts are being made to have building budget money stay in the Wetmore community as much as possible.
Land Transfer Boundaries
Superintendent T. Evans requested that the board members allow himself and Board Attorney Martin Mishler to talk with some other school districts about land transfer boundaries.
The board spoke about setting a boundary along Kansas Highway 20/110th Street/56th Road, including the City limits of Goff. A. Bloom questioned why the board wouldn’t use Wetmore’s bus routes or use township boundaries to determine the land transfer boundary lines. Some of the other board members liked the idea of using K-20/110th Street/56th Road because it is mostly a naturally straight line and going by historical boundaries “muddies up the water,” as Keim said.
Concerned, A. Bloom asked if WAC students living outside the K-20 boundary would have to apply as out-of-district students to attend other schools. Lippert said they wouldn’t have to, that they could attend Sabetha schools. Majority of the board members thought the K-20 boundary line would be a good area to start a discussion with other school districts about.
Lippert made a motion to allow T. Evans and Mishler to have a general discussion with Jackson Heights and/or USD 380 Vermillion school district about land transfer boundaries, as Evans had requested. The board approved the motion with all in favor.
The board discussed the K-20 line further. Then, Lippert made a motion to allow T. Evans and Mishler to speak with Jackson Heights and/or USD 380 Vermillion school district specifically about Kansas Highway 20/110th Street/56th Road, to include Goff, as a possible boundary line, just to get a discussion started.
After discussion on Lippert’s motion took place, the board voted on the motion and approved it 4-3, with Lippert, Keim, L. Scoby and J. Scoby in favor, and A. Bloom, Buessing and Saylor not in favor.
More about this part of the meeting can be read beginning on Page 1 of the March 15 issue of The Sabetha Herald.
Also at the meeting:
Board members went into a 20-minute executive session after the administrative reports were given for consultation with an attorney as allowed under KOMA for attorney-client privilege. After the first 20 minutes, the board members went back into executive session for 30 more minutes. Present for the executive session were the board members, Superintendent T. Evans and Attorney Mishler. No action was taken following the executive session.
The board approved the motion, with all in favor, to add a second grade teacher to Sabetha Elementary School for the 2023-24 school year.
The board members also approved the motion, with all in favor, to add a STEM teacher/program to Sabetha Elementary School. The proposal includes the use of a program called Project Lead the Way.
The board approved the Memorandum of Understanding No. 2 with Prairie Hills Education Association, with all in favor.
The board members also approved the motion, with all in favor, to extend the contracts of principals Bauman, Frazee and Garber; Assistant Superintendent Gatz; and Superintendent T. Evans through FY 2025.
Before the meeting was adjourned, board member Bloom submitted her resignation from her position on the board, effective as of Monday, March 13, and left the meeting. The other board members accepted her resignation 6-0. Below is her official resignation:
“I resign from the USD 113 school board effective March 13, 2023. I can no longer abide by the decisions made by this board for the whole USD 113 district. My reputation as a 32-year educator, community member and board member should speak for the type of leader I am. Serving on this board has changed my mindset and the direction in which I want to serve. I will be able to help my community in this challenge more on the ground level. By resigning from this board, I will be able to be honest to my community and be the leader I choose to be.”
To watch the meeting on YouTube, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaexsQYmO6Y.
To watch the Superintendent report on the meeting, visit https://screenpal.com/watch/c0e2bvV4u5n.
The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, April 10, in Axtell.