MELVERN — The USD 456 Board of Education accepted the resignation of board member Scott McCollom at the end of its board meeting Monday.
“It’s been a great honor, and I have worked with the best school board I could ever work with,” McCollom said. “Thank you all.”
“On behalf of the board and the district, we do appreciate your service to the students and staff of USD 456,” said Ted Hessong, superintendent. “We know you always had the best interest of the kids at heart.”
Hessong advised the board that he would provide more information about filling the vacancy. They will have the option of leaving the seat open until the November election, or interviewing potential candidates in open session to fill it during the interim. First, however, a 15-day notice must be published before considering a replacement.
On the recommendation of the superintendent, the board unanimously approved the proposed 2017-18 calendar, which will include seven days with early releases during the academic year. A parent survey indicated that 71 percent of the respondents approved of adding the early release dates to the calendar.
“The only real concern was about day care, which the board will need to address, in some way, shape or form,” Hessong said. “We will do what we can to help alleviate that if it is an issue.”
Dismissal time on the designated early-release days will be around 12:20 or 12:30, after lunch on Wednesdays, with teacher meetings starting at 12:45.
In his legislative update, Hessong said the Kansas Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that the block grant funding was not adequate, equitable and basically unconstitutional. He said the legislature has until June 30 to get if fixed.
Hessong said he contacted two members of the school finance committee, to convey his apprehension about how one of the proposed new school finance formulas could possibly hurt the district’s ability to provide its students with what they need to be successful. Several board members added their voices of concern, noting that a majority of districts already have more money and could receive even more.
“It’s frustrating,” said Lacey. “We’re just trying to balance the budget while they are going to get money, and you know they are going to spend it on rubberized tracks and football coliseums. That’s what burns me.”
Hessong presented the board with a budget update of where the district stands currently, with a projected trend for the end of the school year.
“These numbers are not pin-point accurate, but they are pretty close,” Hessong said. “I am not going to operate in fear, to be honest with you guys. We still have to do what is best for our kids, and we’ll make if work someway, somehow.”
James Hardy, Kansas Education Leadership Institute, commented on the districts financial performance.
“You are a very efficient school district,” Hardy said. “The board has done an awesome job, but you are not so efficient that you are not taking care of your kids. You ought to feel really good about what is going on in your district. Not everyone is as fortunate as you are.”
In other business, the board:
• began the meeting with a slideshow presentation of career day held at the Melvern Attendance Center on March 9.
• discussed purchasing two new route buses. Hessong hoped that the district would received up to 25 percent reimbursement from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
“We won’t know until March 24,” Hessong said. “I don’t know what our chances are.”
The price for each bus is $79,740 through Midwest Bus Sales, Bonner Springs. The board intends to finalize a decision at the next meeting.
• heard Hessong will be making a list of spring and summer maintenance projects. He does not anticipate a lot of major projects or big purchases. He said Angie Volkman, board clerk, will be landscaping at the Melvern campus.
“If our facilities look up-to-date, I feel like it is going to attract people,” Hessong said.
• conducted a 10-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. Upon returning to open session, the board recommended Brandon Wise to serve as the head high school track coach, and accepted the resignation of Nicole Patterson as cheer sponsor.
• conducted two 10-minute and one 15-minute executive sessions to discuss non-elected personnel. On return to open session, the board extended the contracts of Twila Wollenberg, elementary principal, Michelle Schulze, junior-senior high school principal, and Hessong for one year, with salaries to be determined at a later date.
• received the administrator report from Wollenberg, including 90 percent attendance at parent-teacher conferences; $2,600 raised in Jump Rope for Heart; 93 percent of the students meting their reading goal for February; and students in second and fourth grades filling 75 seats at the Arab Shrine Circus, with tickets donated by Melvern resident George Cop.
• received the administrator’s report for the junior-senior high school from Schulze, noting 70 percent attendance at parent-teacher conferences; job-shadowing by juniors and seniors April 25; the junior high raised $104.22 for Pennies for Patients; Brock Baxter was one of 50 teachers selected from 500 applications to be part of the WGBH radi’s Bringing the Universe into America’s Classrooms, which is being developed with NASA.
• heard Hessong attended the Quenemo City Council meeting last Tuesday. He shared the district’s mission and vision,. Hessong said the council was very receptive and expressed a desire to have a positive relationship with the school and to provide for the kids.
• approved a contract with Bruna Auditing Services, located in Washington, Kansas, in an amount not to exceed $5,500.
• conducted an executive session for 10 minutes to discuss employer-employee negotiations.
• approved purchase of 30 gray high school football uniforms, in the amount of $6,477.61.
• approved Von Lintel Company refinish, paint and add a new logo to the gym floor, as well as repair the floor by the southwest door entrance, for a total amount of $17,200.
• discussed the fencing at the ball fields in Quenemo.
“It’s been pulled down quite a bit,” McCollom said. “It needs to be fixed or gone. o heard Ann Mah, State Board of Education member, is planning to attend the next meeting.