The Board of Education held a meeting on the evening of March 2nd, 2020 to discuss important issues in Geary County USD 475. The technical issues with equipment have been resolved, so this meeting was live streamed to Facebook. There were many members of the public and district in attendance at this meeting. It was standing room only.
Two members of the Board were not in attendance at this meeting. Mr. David Walker and Dr. Anwar Khoury were unable to attend the meeting.
The Board recognized some of the accomplishments of students within our district. Recognition was given to the JCMS Choir for being only one of two middle school invited to perform at the KMEA Workshop in Wichita last week, as well as 12 JCHS students that were also able to perform. Dr. Eggleston, with the help of Board President Mrs. Rina D. Neal, presented JCHS Senior Elisa Robinson with the Honors and Excellence Award for her historic win as champion of the first ever KSHSAA sanctioned Class 6A girl’s wrestling tournament.
Members of the public came to speak to the Board on a couple of different matters.
Christi Bullock is an instructional coach at Westwood. Christi has been having difficulty getting out of her contract with the district so that she and her children may join her husband at his new duty station. She came to request that the Board release her from her contract immediately so that she and her children may move. She has offered to pay the penalty in her contract so that she may be released. No decision was made on this matter.
Sierra Jackson, Principal at Spring Valley Elementary, spoke to the Board regarding the Early Retirement option benefit. She requested that the Board grandfather the option to administrators that currently work for the district, regardless of how they choose to change this benefit moving forward. No decision was made on this, however, the Board has planned a vote on March 23, 2020.
Technology Purchases & Renewals
Karl DeArmond, Chief Information Officer for USD 475, presented the Board with some necessary technology-related requests. First, he asked the Board to renew our contract with Skyward, at a cost of $9.35 per student, per year, for the next 3 years. The approximate cost per year is $65,450, when calculating based on 7,000 students enrolled per year.
The next purchase was the new core switches for the new JCHS campus. These devices make up the framework for the rest of the technology equipment that will be installed. Karl pointed out that this is only the bare minimum needed to begin building the technology framework for the new high school, and that he will need to make additional requests from the Board at the beginning of the next fiscal year. The anticipated cost for this is $78,480.12.
The final item requested is for equipment regarding fiberoptic lines that will be run to the new high school campus. The process to run the lines can be lengthy, so it is important to the progress of the high school to ensure they begin soon. Karl requested purchases related to this portion of the project in the amount of $86,749.60. The costs of this equipment will be significantly reduced using the e-rate fund, pending approval by USAC.
The Board voted to unanimously to approve the Skyward renewal and technology purchases.
Reading Program Adoption
Pam Irwin, Executive Directory of Teaching and Learning, presented information about the progress and process of choosing a new reading program to implement district-wide for students PreK through 6th grade, beginning at the start of the next school year.
This process took many months to complete. The committee was comprised of 63 people and was made of many different members of the district. They held vendor fairs to review different programs and view materials. They also met with teachers all over the district to allow for input and questions. The committee allowed every teacher in the district to have a vote on their preference for which program they liked the most. In the end, the overwhelming choice, with two-thirds of the teacher votes, was the Wonders program by McGraw-Hill.
Pam presented the costs for implementing the new program to the Board of Education. The total price tag is $1,391,130.19. Pam noted that this includes a line item charge for shipping and handling of approximately $65,000, however, she will seek alternative ways to reduce that cost. This program will include a classroom kit for every PreK -6 classroom, access to an online library of information, assessments that include screening and benchmark tools, and oral fluency assessments where students read into a microphone and are graded for accuracy.
These costs do not include purchasing tradebooks for teachers, as the group would like more time to investigate the books to determine which are most useful. The group did reach out to other districts that have implemented this program and asked questions about their successes and difficulties with the implementation and were encouraged by the responses from those districts.
The Board voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the new reading program.
Maintenance Contracts Extensions and Deferrals
David Wild, Chief Operations Officer for USD 475, requested the Board extend 2 of the 6 maintenance contracts that are up for renewal.
The bussing contracts are up for renewal this year. However, David requested the Board only renew the contracts for no more than 12 months, as the two local bus companies are in discussions for a merger. In addition, David would like to explore the option of creating a contract with the transportation companies for longer than 60 months, which would give the company the ability to make larger purchases, like busses with air conditioning, which the district currently doesn’t have.
The grounds and facilities maintenance contracts with ABM are also up for renewal. However, David intends to change the scope of their contract over the next year, as he wishes to shift all responsibilities for maintaining the HVAC equipment off their contracts and onto another company. He needs time to rework those contracts and anticipates having them refined in the coming months.
David requested that the HVAC maintenance contracts be renewed for no more than 12 months so that he can rework the contracts to increase the scope of the maintenance provided.
The Board voted unanimously to extend all the contracts for the period of no more than a year.
The next Board of Education meeting will be held on March 23rd in the Board Room.