New security feature suggested for schools

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It pays to have a firefighter on your board.

At Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting, member Chad Burroughs, who also works for the Great Bend Fire Department, said a tour of buildings in the district revealed that none of the elementary schools had a quick access device known by the brand name KnoxBox. He estimated that eight boxes would cost around $3,700.

Burroughs brought an example of a KnoxBox, a metal box similar in size to a fire alarm. With the touch of a button, the system removes barriers to entry when first responders respond to an emergency call.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said he thought the buildings already had the boxes and Burroughs was also surprised. The superintendent said that if the council had no objection, he would have them installed where necessary.

Late resignations/staff

Staff continue to be a major issue heading into the new school year. The board met in executive session for 40 minutes to discuss personnel. After that, the board approved three late resignations, from Suzann Bouray, a computer science teacher at Great Bend Middle School, Darwin Bouray, a technology specialist at Park Elementary School, and Rhonda Mock, an eighth-grade science teacher at GBMS.

These resignations took place after the teachers’ departure deadline without incurring any financial sanction. However, Thexton said no penalty was imposed because the district was able to find suitable replacements for those people. Deputy Superintendent John Popp said the district has the potential to fill the positions with licensed teachers.

Earlier in the meeting, Popp summarized personnel changes over the past year.

• 0 new redundant positions have been added

• 6 positions could not be filled; they were pedagogical coaches

• 8 positions have been filled by long-term occasional teachers, most in various stages of licensing

• 5 positions were filled by people holding a provisional license (licensees but finishing teaching programs)

• 22 teachers in total have been hired; 16 fully laid off people were hired who were new to the district

• there were 23 resignations

Organization of the 2022-2023 board

In other matters, the board elected officers and managed day-to-day business to be organized for the 2022–23 school year. The board retained the same officers as last year; Jacquie Disque will continue as President and Aaron Emerson as Vice President.

Most nominations remained unchanged. There was a vacancy for a representative on the Board of the USD 428 Education Foundation and Emerson was appointed to that position.

Organizational procedures have also remained unchanged for the most part, with two exceptions. The mileage rate for approved trips for district employees was increased from 55 cents to 58.5 cents, the state’s recommendation. The second change is that while the substitute teacher’s salary is still $105 a day and the half-day rate is $52.50, the district will actually pay $120 a day this year, in using federal ESSER money. Emergency relief funds for elementary and secondary schools are included in the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act and are intended to provide emergency relief funds to address the impact of COVID -19 on schools.

Orchestra Travel Approval

Orchestra director Isaac Enochs addressed the board on Monday and received permission for about 50 orchestra students to take a four-day trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado during the 2023 summer vacation. , shortly after Memorial Day. School buses will be used and students will raise funds for this trip.

The choir is making its regular trip to Washington, D.C., in 2023. Enochs said music department administrators have talked about a three-year rotation of major trips for the band, choir and orchestra.

“We will have a short trip this year and a longer trip in three years,” Enochs said. The students were surveyed and Colorado was their first choice. They will spend a day in Denver and have a performance, possibly judged by the Denver School of Music.

Destinations would include the Garden of the Gods, the USAF, the cogwheel train to Pike Peak, and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. They will see a musical performance such as Riverdance. Enochs said he will be using a tour company for the first time, which will add 20% to the cost but includes a tour guide and other amenities.

Literacy kits

Great Bend Public Library Assistant Manager Amy Mayhill has received a grant for 200 children’s literacy for families to use at home over the summer to encourage summer reading. Students who participated in the June Summer School program received these kits which included books, a timer, crafts and activities for families.

This contribution has been approved by the Board of Directors, along with incentive contributions from Strawbridge Studios. Strawbridge, which handles school portraits, donated $905 to Riley Elementary and $307 to Jefferson Elementary.

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