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Board wrestles with school financing

Counselor hired; board reluctant to make additional cuts

Staff writer

Much of the March 8 USD 398 Board of Education meeting involved discussion of education finance and the options on the table for the Peabody-Burns district.

Since the legislature has not yet made a final decision on aid and is not likely to until the end of the session, budget issues for the 2010-11 year were left unresolved. Board members could do little but review available facts, request additional information, and decide to add a position to the district staff.

Early in the meeting, Superintendent Rex Watson reviewed the most current options for school finance on the governor’s desk. He also covered base state aid per pupil history, potential state cuts, district options for sustaining the local budget, basic course requirements, state/district graduation requirements, and electives and athletics.

The board took care of other business and then went into a series of executive sessions lasting 90 minutes to discuss personnel. On return to open meeting the issue of school finance and its impact on USD 398 programs was on the table again.

Discussion centered on possible cuts and the programs that cuts would affect — both academic and extracurricular. The board directed Watson to review the possible cuts and bring back a comparison list. Members indicated a preference for using the local option budget and cash carry-over to cover most of the deficit rather than making deeper cuts to staff or programs.

In a related move, approval was given to offer Randy Zonn the school psychologist/counselor position for the 2010-11 school year.

In the other business:

  • Driver’s training instruction positions were offered to Brian Simmonds and Darren Schroeder for the 2010 summer session, and a bus driver position was offered to Tammy Britton. The board also approved an emergency substitute license for Roger Charles for the rest of this school year.
  • A supplemental contract with Cathy Silvers in conjunction with a mentoring program for new teachers was approved.
  • The board reviewed school trips. Twelve Business Professionals of America students qualified at state contest to attend the national convention in Anaheim, Calif. Eleven students will attend. The high school band will postpone its trip until after the spring barbecue fundraiser. Three options are being explored for the destination. The junior English class is completing its fundraising efforts for a trip to Hannibal, Mo. Students who elect not to make the trip will work on an alternate assignment.
  • The board was told that school auditors as well as Kansas State Department of Education Special Education Director Colleen Riley would attend the Marion County Special Ed Co-op meeting March 11.
  • The resignation of Annette Elliott as cheerleading sponsor was accepted, effective Monday.
  • Physical education curriculum and art curriculum will be presented for approval at the April 12 board meeting.
  • A plan to use cell phone technology in the classroom was presented and discussed. The district has applied for a Kansas Learning Network grant to help with the cost. A decision on the project was tabled until the April meeting.
  • Members Bruce Burke and Julia Ensminger were appointed to serve as the 2010 awards committee. Watson also will serve on the committee. Award amounts were approved by the board.
  • Administrators Ken Parry and Tim Robertson presented preliminary summer school plans to the board. The district has applied for a grant to help defray the cost. Curriculum, student referral, and state/district requirements were discussed. The board approved the preliminary plans pending funds availability.
  • After discussion, board members approved extending the district’s membership in the Parents As Teachers program for the 2010-11 school year.
  • Members were reminded of a 10 a.m. meeting Monday with Marion County Commissioners to discuss 40th and 60th roads between Burns and Peabody. The meeting will take place in the Marion County Courthouse.

Last modified March 17, 2010

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