Board Recap – November 6, 2017

The Geary County Schools Board of Education met for the regular November meeting on November 6, 2017, at 5:00 PM at the Devin Center for Educational Support. This meeting will be the last meeting prior to the local election that will put a few new faces on the Board this coming January 2018.

Dr. Miller opened the BOE Meeting by asking that those in attendance take a moment of silence in honor of Jacey Cantrell, an Eisenhower teacher who was killed last week in a car accident on I70.

During the approval of the consent agenda, the Board discussed the approval of a fundraiser to sell candy canes. Due to a change in law fundraisers and food made available to students during the school day must meet nutrition guidelines unless otherwise approved.

Dressman told the Board that her school, Westwood, is focusing on KESA goals throughout the year as well as taking time to participate in the State of Kansas (KSDE) Gemini Project. The Gemini Project is an effort to redesign schools in Kansas that starts with a research and planning phase.

Westwood would like to better engage students in hands-on learning opportunities, enhance creativity through electives, and focus on social and emotional needs through the redesign project. Dressman presented the Board documents generated during a school-wide brainstorming session as she expressed the importance of social and emotional needs of students.

“The learning can’t happen if we don’t first take care of those pieces” Dressman said referring to needs of students before and after school such as hunger or home stressors.

JCHS is also participating in the KSDE Gemini Project this year.

Three members of the public commented during the public comment section of the Monday night meeting. These comments dealt with the proposed new high school bond and included a short presentation on the economic opportunities a new high school could create. Comments also encouraged the community to get out to vote tomorrow.

Board members took the comment section to encourage the community to vote as well. Carolyn Gaston, Dr. Witt, and other Board Members extended their thanks to the Say Yes For JCHS Committee for their work in helping the district to educate the community on the issue.

Dr. Miller took time to also congratulate the JCHS ROTC on placing 6th overall in the nation during their competition this past weekend in Georgia.

Melissa Sharp spoke of the JCHS participation in the KSDE Gemini Project and how their proposal to change the graduation requirements from 26 to 24 credits. Sharp mentioned that even though they had more 26 credit graduates this year than 24 credit graduates the previous year this change would reflect quality of credits. “We want more students to leave our high school career ready and with industry-based certifications,” Sharp told the Board. One credit that would no longer be required is a technology credit, Sharp made sure to mention that this isn’t because technology isn’t important, it’s because technology is already integrated into other credits and courses. The State of Kansas requirement is 21 credits and Sharp told the Board hat most graduates leave JCHS with closer to 30 credits. The Board approved the request to move to 24 credits.

The Board approved at the meeting on Monday night the purchase of a new dimmer rack for Junction City Middle School. This rack will replace a 10-year-old switch which is out of warranty and in need of replacement. It controls lighting in the Junction City Middle School auditorium. The Board also approved the request to replace several vehicles in the district fleet (a truck and a van).

Presented to the Board for consideration was a proposed new club at JCHS called, “Girls Who Code.” This club is intended to help promote technology and coding to young girls to increase women in that workforce. This is a nationwide program that will provide opportunity to students at not only JCHS but also JCMS, FRMS, and the FSA. The Board of Education approved the request and staff hope to start the program fairly quickly (opening to students potentially in January 2018).

The Teaching and Learning Department took time Monday night to present the Board information on the Geary County Schools Library Media Program. This section of the meeting was part of the monthly presentations on the Teach and Learning Department that was requested by the Board earlier this year. Part of the Library Media Program presentation discussed the history of Library Media in USD 475 as well as the contrast of where the district is now and headed in the future.

“Tomorrow marks the end of a very ambitious informational campaign to inform the community on this proposed new high school bond issue.” – Mat Droge, Executive Director of Communications.

Dr. Corbin Witt and Executive Director of Communications Mat Droge updated the Board of Education on the JCHS Way Forward Informational Campaign by reminding those in attendance that the local election would be held tomorrow, November 7th. Droge spoke to the Board about the various ways in which USD 475 and the Communications Department have informed the community on the issue of the proposed new high school. These forms of communication included tri-fold brochures (over 4,000 were printed and distributed or made available throughout the community), mailers sent to voters registered in the last election, various advertisements, public speaking presentations, and the use of digital video and the Cox Cable TV-20 channel. Droge also took time to express his gratitude for his communications team and the help his department received throughout the past 10.5 months of the informational campaign.

Chief Operations Officer David Wild presented several options to the Board of Education regarding the current contract with GCA. GCA provides custodial and maintenance services for the district. Wild proposed that the Board extend the contract with GCA into its 8th of 10 years which would allow him more time to research and negotiate a cost-effective solution for the future (whether that is continuing with GCA or identifying a nonprofit firm to take on the responsibilities). Wild then expressed his interest in making sure there is opportunity for current GCA employees in any contract USD 475 enters into. Wild cited a nonprofit company that could potentially offer job opportunity to disabled veterans and other disabled community members who might otherwise not have the opportunity to become employed. After significant discussion, the Board of Education decided to continue the research and discussion and revisit the topic in December.

Toward the end of the meeting, the Board of Education heard an update on the USD 475 partnership with Cenergistic and Energy Conservation Program. Utilities cost avoidance in the district over the lifetime of the contract thus far is $1.5 million.

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