Summary of December 6, 2021, Board of Education meeting

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. — Geary County Schools Board of Education held a meeting on Monday at the Mary E. Devin Center for Education Support.

The meeting began with Superintendent Dr. Reginald Eggleston recognizing the district’s nominees for the Kansas State Department of Education’s 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year Award, Washington Elementary School fifth grade teacher Jennifer Fallin and Junction City High School ACSS teacher Samantha Kruse. This award recognizes and utilizes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state. Its mission is to build and utilize a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the improvement of schools, student performance, and the teaching profession.

Dr. Eggleston also recognized the district’s two nominees for Emporia State University’s 2022 Kansas Master Teacher Award, Fort Riley Middle School math and algebra teacher Susan Marshall and Seitz Elementary School Academic Specialist Bryan Scruggs. This award was established in 1954 and is annually presented to selected teachers who serve as exemplary, professional educators. Scruggs was unable to attend the meeting and will be recognized in person at the Board’s Jan. 10 meeting.

Executive Director of the Governor’s Military Council Retired Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins, Fort Riley Garrison Commander Col. William McKannay, and Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Speichert joined Dr. Eggleston to recognize Milford Elementary School, Washington Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Ware Elementary School, H.D. Karns, Morris Hill Elementary School, Westwood Elementary School and the Early Childhood Center’s principals and military point of contacts for their work in implementing a pilot of the Military Child Education Coalition’s Purple Star School Program, making Geary County Schools the very first school district in the state of Kansas to do so.

The final recognition of the evening was for outgoing Board members Rina Neal, Sarah Talley, and David Walker. Dr. Eggleston thanked them for their hard work and dedication to the betterment of the district in serving on the Board.

Following the recognitions, the Board approved the Consent Agenda, which included approving three new Title 1 positions for Washington Elementary School, a student support monitor and school hall monitor position at Junction City Middle School, a temporary grant coordinator position to coordinate additional funding through the McKinney-Vento Act awarded to the district, and a behavior interventionist position at H.D. Karns. In the action items, Winter later presented to the Board a request to create an additional network administrator position to represent the educational and district goals when dealing with cybersecurity vendors and making changes to the various systems. The position will act as the technical expert for the district if numerous issues arise.

The Board was then given an update by Geary County Schools COVID-19 Response Coordinator Rick Rook and Geary County Health Department Interim Director Charles Martinez on the current COVID-19 data for the district. The data showed less of an increase in positive cases and quarantines following Thanksgiving break as expected, however, this increase may still be on the horizon, according to Rook and Martinez.

Following the update, the Board adjourned to an executive session to discuss potential litigation with the district’s legal counsel.

Once returning to the open session, the Board took numerous action items, beginning with a presentation by Geary County Schools Chief Financial Officer Marilee Fredricks and Jessica Lindsley with Varney & Associates, CPAs, LLC, on the district’s 2021 Financial Audit Report. The auditors had no findings for the fiscal year 2021, and the Board accepted the report.

Representatives from the City of Junction City then presented a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the Board for the old Junction City High School grounds. The model, according to the city, captures district needs as well as the community vision. The Board did not approve the RFP, but instead approved the school district and city to work together to develop a plan that benefits both entities.

Associate Superintendent Dr. Deb Gustafson and Director of Elementary Education Jennifer Black presented the plans for summer school to the Board. These plans include an Elementary Summer School Program, Middle School Summer School Program, Middle School Jump Start 6th Grade Program, Middle School 6th Grade Transition Program, High School ACT Prep Summer Program, High School Summer Credit Recovery, High School 9th Grade Transition Program, Middle/High School Summer Fine Art Program, Magnet Program Summer Camp, Extended School Year for Special Education, and more. The Board approved this proposal as presented.

Chief Operations Officer David Wild then proposed to the Board a plan for an Early Release Package in the construction of the new elementary school on Fort Riley. Due to significant cost increases for construction materials and labor, as well as delays in production and delivery of materials, Wild recommended the Board bid out project alternates so the construction project can remain on its critical path. District staff has contacted the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperative (OLDCC), who approved the matching grant for construction of the 81,000 square foot, 390 student capacity school, to amend the original grant application to reflect these cost increases. The OLDCC supports an amendment to the original application, according to Wild, and acknowledged the nationwide construction conditions. If the grant amendment is approved, Geary County Schools will remain fiscally responsible for 20% of the approved increases. If the amendment is denied, Geary County Schools will reduce the scope of the facility to stay within original budget estimates. The Board approved this action.

Wild also asked the Board to approve the final touches on various aspects of the new Junction City High School (JCHS) construction project, totaling $193,138.58:

  • Early Childhood playground fencing, surfacing, equipment ($31,000.00, or $20,000.00 if mulch rather than synthetic is used)
  • JCHS Athletic Department washer and dryer for uniforms ($19,500.00)
  • Apron improvements along Munson Road ($25,000.00)
  • Function change for security, relocate electric strike, card reader, and add panic device ($5,000.00)
  • ASI-054 mechanical/electrical provisions for owner-provided laser engraver ($7,500.00)
  • JCHS Fine Arts kiln/furniture ($5,235.00)
  • Add paving around discus throwing rings for safety ($6,643.00)
  • Provide chemical feeder for the closed-loop side of the hydronic system ($3,200.00)
  • Add several stainless corner guards ($1,000.00)
  • Athletic equipment in multi-purpose and weight rooms ($55,100.58)
  • Add fire alarm devices ($33,960.00)

The Board approved funding this list of items, completing the list of outstanding items for the new Junction City High School.

Following the action items, Dr. Gustafson and Black presented to the Board the data collected by the Kansas State Department of Education regarding the 2021 Kansas Assessment Program test scores from the spring of 2021. The comparative scores, disaggregated by gender, race, military status, and poverty, found that the students outperformed the state and district level in multiple areas.

Chief Information Officer Karl DeArmond then proposed to the Board a plan to finance the purchase of 1,150 new staff computers over the next two school years, allowing the district to move to Windows 11 in a controlled manner. The budget for these devices is approximately $1 million and would be delivered to staff around October of 2023. No motion was required at that time.

The Board then heard from Wild regarding staffing the Command and Control (C2) platform in the security office at JCHS. The C2 will be staffed with a specialist to assist building administrators in bringing resources, experience, coordination, and order to the disciplinary climate of JCHS. Additionally, with cameras installed at all district facilities, the goal is to create a central security office at JCHS with this new position. No motion was required at this time.

The final discussion item heard from Wild regarded allowing the Junction City High School Alumni Association to fundraise for improvements to the plaza located on the south entrance of the JCHS football stadium. Additionally, proceeds will be used to honor and commemorate individuals who have made a significant contribution to the school. The Bond Counsel approved this request provided that, due to the use of tax-exempt bonds for the JCHS project, the plaza is not named after an individual or corporate entity. The Board approved recognizing the association as the official alumni association for the school, as well as approved its request to fundraise.

Following the general remarks of each Board member, the meeting was adjourned.

Monday’s meeting can be viewed on the district’s YouTube page.

The Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 16 at 7:30 a.m. and will happen virtually. This meeting will be live-streamed on YouTube.

For media inquiries, please contact Marketing and Media Specialist Lindley Lund at lindleylund@usd475.org.