Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education 4.10.2023
The Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Board of Education (BOE) met at 6 p.m. Monday, April 10, at the Axtell Public School (APS). Board members present were Kathy Lippert, Jim Scoby, Leslie Scoby, Kent Saylor, Phillip Buessing and Stan Keim.
The board adopted the agenda as amended.
Brad Lippert, a resident of Sabetha, spoke about the petition to disorganize USD 113 circulating by the Wetmore Community Action Group, in wake of the USD 113 BOE’s decision to close the Wetmore Academic Center (WAC).
Below is his statement addressed to the board and the Axtell community:
“Tonight, I’d like to speak to the board about the petition to disorganize USD 113, which has been circulating by the Wetmore Community Action Group. First an update and then a warning, particularly for those wanting to keep the Axtell school open.
“First of all, last week at the meeting in Bern, we were able to clarify that Analyssa Noe indeed is in control of the petition. She told everyone that night that they have the 309 signatures that they need. She held that petition up in a red folder above her head, referenced Teddy Roosevelt and told everybody that this was their big stick. They intimated that they would use that if this board did not heed their demands.
“So, I’d like to talk a little bit more about what happens if that petition gets filed. If it is filed, there will be an election in either August or November where there will be a question on the ballot, which will read, ‘Shall USD 113 be disorganized, if the majority of patrons in USD 113 vote yes, then on July 1st, 2024, USD 113 will cease to exist.’ It’s gone, there are no more schools, there are no more teachers, administrators or other employees, and the students no longer go to USD 113. It is dissolved, gone, kaput.
“The State Board of Education then would step in, have public hearings and would then divide the territories of USD 113 between the neighboring school districts. Keep in mind, once again, that these are no longer schools, this [Axtell Public School] is no longer a school, it is a building. That’s it.
“What that means to Sabetha is that, more than likely, the buildings in Sabetha and the town of Sabetha would be assigned to either Hiawatha or Nemaha Central. Because they do not have the capacity to educated the students that attend Sabetha at the present time, the schools in Sabetha would likely remain open, but they would do so as part of either Nemaha Central or the Hiawatha school districts.
“The story is quite different for Axtell. Remember, this [Axtell Public School] is only a building. Based on proximity, because Nemaha Central is closer than any other school, more than likely the territory of Axtell will be assigned to Nemaha Central. It will then be up to the Nemaha Central School Board to determine whether or not this building is used to educate students or not.
“Now, they’re going to take a look at the financial records and realize that Axtell has been operating at a loss for several years. They’re also going to realize that if down the road they want to close Axtell, they’re going to have to go through the public hearing and the whole process that this board just went through with Wetmore, and that process is ugly, and I wouldn’t wish that on any school board.
“All USD 115 has to do to avoid that process is to not open the school anymore, to bus the students from Axtell to Nemaha Central. So, if you are from Axtell, and you have signed that petition, you may want to consider calling Analyssa Noe or whichever circulator obtained your signature and ask that your signature be taken off that petition.
“And if it ever does come to a vote, because if you want to see your school stay open, you got to vote ‘no.’ Because if you vote ‘yes,’ and majority of electors in the school district vote ‘yes,’ this school [Axtell Public School] will close, 99.9 percent chance it’s going to close, so just be aware of that. I want to make sure everybody in Axtell knows that, everybody throughout the district knows that and I want to make sure this school board knows that.”
Axtell clubs that gave reports during the meeting were the Student Council, FFA and KAY Club.
K. 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.
Frazee spoke about the monetary donations included in her report and showed her appreciation for the unpaid man hours supporting APS from the Axtell community.
Gatz updated the board on summer school activities.
The board approved the consent agenda as amended, including the following: minutes from the March 13 regular meeting; minutes from the March 29 special meeting; minutes from the April 3 special meeting; April bills for the amount of $1,158,646.82; March payroll for the amount of $793,377.42; approve building-level transactions; approve payment to AHRS from Capital Outlay for $47,358.28; approve payment to Civium Architects from Contingency Fund for $13,852.51; accept donations to APS: SBS Insurance – $135, Community National Bank – $500, Axtell State Bank – $500, KOC – $500 and Axtell United Methodist Church (Men’s Ecumenical Group) – $150; adoption of Naloxone Administration for Opioid Overdose Policy; authorize Superintendent Todd Evans to work with Harmony Hills near Axtell for school bus and driver for a field trip to Homestead National Historical Site near Beatrice, Neb.; approve Kickhaefer and Buessing to conduct the annual audit for fiscal year 24; resignations effective at the end of 2022-23: Keri Strathman as WAC teacher, Kelsi Bloom as WAC teacher, Seth Stiers as WAC teacher, Staci Claycamp as WAC teacher, Kylah Foote as WAC teacher, Sarah Cormier as WAC teacher, Bridget Davis as WAC secretary, Kristina Rice as WAC secretary, Susan Rokey as Sabetha High School (SHS) Forensics teacher, Cindy Osterhaus as WAC teacher and Joyce Stallbaumer as WAC Instructional Support Staff; contracts with Nick Scott as Sabetha Elementary School crossing guard, Lisa Othmer as Axtell Music teacher, Julie Lane as Axtell English teacher, Eric Renyer as Sabetha Middle School track coach, Kay Duncan as SHS summer custodian, Kaci Smith as SHS Art teacher, Joe Gruber as 2023-24 SHS head girls’ basketball coach, Josh Wertenberger as 2023-24 SHS head boys’ basketball coach and Mason Chanay as 2023-24 SHS head cross country coach; and personal day requests for Tresa Burger, Heather Schremmer, Risa Gilbert, Lyssia Johnson, Briana Uphaus and Dana Michael.
Superintendent Evans reported on year-to-date expenses and other topics as follows:
Expense Comparison: The expense comparison from April 2022 through April 2023, compared with the same time frame last year, showed the district has spent $411,188 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 $2,103,628 more from the capital outlay fund, and $21,099 less from the special education fund.
Radon: Evans said he is working with Principal Frazee on the radon situation at APS.
Renovations: Evans said he is working with Theodore Demonchaux, of Civium Architects, to potentially make facility improvements at APS.
Schuette Email: Evans showed the board an email from Heaven Schuette, the Nemaha County Health Officer, who congratulated USD 113 for having 100 percent responses on immunization requirements for kindergartners.
Carpet: Evans talked about replacing some carpets in the schools.
Bond Issue Rumors: Evans told the board that there has been rumors circulating about a future bond issue in USD 113. He explained that these rumors are untrue and he hasn’t heard about any future bond issues.
Wetmore Property: Evans let the board know that he asked USD 113 Attorney Martin Mishler to work on sales documents regarding the property that USD 113 is planning to sell to the City of Wetmore.
Legal Max: Evans talked about the USD 113 Legal Max.
Open Records Requests: Evans also talked about two open records requests he received about the families living between 56th and 112th Roads. He said there are currently 11 families living between 56th and 112th Roads that are sending their children to USD 113 schools — four of these families attend Wetmore Academic Center and seven attend the Sabetha schools. Also, there are no families living north of 72nd Road with children currently attending WAC. Evans also said that, of the 11 families, 12 students are attending the Sabetha schools and eight students are attending WAC. He said there are families living south of 56th Road attending the Sabetha schools.
Axtell Fitness Center
Superintendent Evans showed the board members a top-down view of the USD 113 real estate in Axtell for the proposed Axtell Fitness Center. The facility would be located beside the Axtell green house. The board members were in favor of continuing this project.
Science Room Floor
Axtell Principal Frazee made a proposal to repair the science room floor at Axtell Public School. Frazee said she already received a bid to sand and varnish the floor. All board members approved the proposal to repair the APS science room floor.
Also at the meeting:
Principal Frazee took the board members and a couple others on a tour of the Axtell facility to highlight areas in need of improvements, such as lighting in the main gym, better access to the mechanical room, repairing the science room floors, etc.
The board approved the motion, with five in favor, to designate Saylor Insurance as the USD 113 Insurance Agent of Record for fiscal year 23. Saylor abstained from voting.
The board members approved the motion, with all in favor, to allow the SHS seniors to help with Sabetha Project Clean-Up.
The board also approved the motion, with all in favor, to publish a board vacancy resolution in The Sabetha Herald.
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 Assistant Superintendent Gatz. No action was taken following the executive session.
The board discussed adding a new member to the Negotiations Team after Anissa Bloom’s resignation from the board. L. Scoby volunteered to join the team. The board approved this without making a motion.
To watch the meeting on YouTube, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJrzTR2VHSI.
To watch the Superintendent’s Report of the meeting, visit https://screenpal.com/watch/c0flI2VaKhK.
The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, May 8, in Sabetha.