Bus purchase tops school board’s agenda

The Board of Education for Unified School District 410 met Monday evening and approved the purchase of a new school bus for $40,330.

The bus, a 2002 model 23/24 passenger with a Blue Bird body, will be purchased from Irv Schroeder County Motors of Hillsboro. The purchase also includes the trade-in of a 1989 Ford Econoline.

Hillsboro Ford-Mercury also submitted a bid for the vehicle.

“The bid is $5,300 over our budget, but total expenditures will be pretty close,” superintendent Gordon Mohn said.

The 2001-02 budget allowed $35,000 for the bus.

The district’s principals reviewed their building reports, focusing on scores students achieved on recent assessment tests.

Hillsboro Elementary School principal Pat Call said the scores by fifth graders in reading and those by fourth graders in math were close to meeting the Standard of Excellence.

“We’re one or two students away from hitting the goal,” Call said.

Call said test scores are categorized in five levels: unsatisfactory, basic, satisfactory, proficient and advanced. The Standard of Excellence rating is determined by three factors: 5 percent or less of scores are in the unsatisfactory level, 25 percent or more are in the advanced level and an index ranking based on the combination of scores.

Call said the science scores were the first set taken by the fourth graders, and the largest number of students, 45 percent, scored at the proficient level.

“We hope to increase those scores,” he said.

Evan Yoder, Hillsboro Middle School principal, reported that scores by seventh graders in reading were up slightly from last year, adding that no one scored in the unsatisfactory level.

Students scored above the state average in science.

“Those scores look pretty good,” Yoder said of the science and social studies scores.

But overall scores in math were down from last year-below the state average, Yoder said.

“There’s no big alarms, but we want to keep at those areas, particularly looking at math.”

Dale Honeck, Hillsboro High School principal, reported the attendance record by the students was 94.72, above the state average.

He also said assessment scores in reading and math reached the Standard of Excellence.

According to Mohn, the math assesment test addresses algebra and geometry. He credited much of the students’ success in math to the quality of teaching they’ve received from HHS mathematics teacher Carolyn Long.

“She’s their only algebra teacher,” Mohn said. “She does a real good job at that.”

Honeck also reported that Ag-Service sent a $200 check and a letter to the high school’s FFA chapter. The letter commended the organization for the leadership preparations students are receiving.

HHS science teacher Scott O’Hare, chair of the science subject area committee, presented the revised science curriculum and standards to the board. The committee, comprised of teaching staff from the three buildings, has developed standards for science instruction for kindergarten through grade eight, as well as outcomes for the science courses taught in the high school.

The board voted to place the revised science curriculum on the agenda for the next regular meeting, so that the public can review and comment on the curriculum before a decision is made about its adoption.

In order to facilitate writing the new school improvement plans used for the next five years, Randy Watson, assistant superintendent from McPherson, will provide training sessions for staff in each building.

Mohn said these sessions are designed to enhance the quality of the improvement plans.

“In the past, we could have done a better job of identifying needs and (developing) a plan to improve them,” Mohn said. “We have a better grasp now.”

The board approved three days of early class dismissals at 11:30 a.m. for staff development: Tuesday, Feb. 5, for the elementary school; Monday, Feb. 11, for the middle school; and Monday, Feb. 18, for the high school.

Buses will run at 11:30 a.m. for students dismissed early and again at 3:30 p.m. to transport students who remain in school.

In response to Eddie Weber’s question about the cost of bus transportation compared to tagging on a day for training teachers at the end of the school year, Mohn said the cost to the district would be about $8,000 more to have the extra day.

The board also considered different options for next year to allow for more training of teachers, including the possibility of late school starts or early dismissals for a number of days.

“We’re looking at alternatives,” Mohn said. “We’ve tried to think of ways to make more time for teacher training.”

This discussion will be taken up at another meeting. Another matter tabled for future discussion is potential staff reductions at the elementary school because of lower enrollment and budget constraints.

Staff-reduction policy requires those who don’t have tenure to be released first, said Mohn, adding, “Unless we have resignations, I’d be hesitant to reduce staff.”

Keith Goossen, director of transportation, answered questions about the transportation report for 2001-02 submitted to the board. The total number of miles per day has increased this year because of the distance between stops, Goossen said.

The board voted unanimously to approve the following action:

–?adjusted Sara Hill’s contract to provide additional compensation of $1,530 for teaching a Cloud County Community College class of English Comp II during her planning period. HHS seniors who enroll in the course receive high school and college credit.

–?appointed board member Reg Matz to be chief negotiator;

–?renewed the superintendent’s contract for a three-year period.

The board went into executive session to discuss contract negotiations and matters of personnel.

Board members Brent Barkman, Brenda Ens and Cal Jost were absent from the meeting, which was held earlier this week because of the basketball tournament hosted at the high school.

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