Marion board of ed. approves purchase of new mower

A new mower, student handbooks and staff compensation were among the items discussed at the June 9 meeting of the USD 408 Board of Education meeting in Marion.

Martin Tice, business manager, said the district was needing a new mower. The bagger on the existing Hustler, which is 10 years old and believed to be a reconditioned mower when purchased, is not working, he reported.

Bids on a new Excel Hustler 4600 of $17,930 with trade-in and a comparable model from John Deere of $17,150 were both discussed.

Tice said the mower is used about 300 hours a year for uses other than mowing and bagging at sports fields. It also has three attachments, including a snow blower, that would be compatible with the new Hustler model, saving future purchases.

Tice said the purchase would come out of the supplemental general fund, which has sufficient money for such a purchase.

The board approved the purchase of the Hustler mower, 5-0, with Doug Sharp and Gene Bowers absent.

Marion’s three school principal’s were on hand requesting consideration of changes for the new student handbooks.

Ken Arnold, MHS principal, reviewed changes that had been made by board decisions this past year, including the drug policy and the mandatory study time.

He asked for changes regarding eligibility, hoping to make it a more positive enforcement. He reported the mandatory study time has been successful in helping students to succeed in areas in which they were failing.

Tod Gordon, MMS principal, asked that the mandatory study also stay in the student handbook at the middle school level, along with the drug policy that was incorporated this past year. He also suggested the early-release day could stay.

Stan Ploutz, MES principal, offered changes at the elementary school regarding early release dismissal, hoping that more activities be offered to students who remained at school. He also wanted to change the head-lice wording and the dress code regarding shoes.

All requests recommended were approved so the handbooks can be printed.

Arnhold asked that time for commencement be changed next year. He said several students from next year’s senior class felt graduation at 4 p.m. Sunday presented a problem for graduates’ visitors.

The board discussed pros and cons for changing the time, including conflicts with ceremonies at area schools and other May activities, then decided to leave the time as it was this past year.

City Economic Development Director Susan Cooper asked USD 408 to participate in the tax abatement for Marion Die and Fixture. The request was acknowledged and agreed upon by all members present.

Gerry Henderson, school superintendent, reported to the five board members in attendance his findings on the special-education request to rent the Florence facilities for a year contract.

He said, “There is no hidden agenda.”

He concluded the special-education program feels there may be “some fear in government structure that may change in the next five years.”

The board unanimously approved the lease for a one year at $2,400 per month.

Lois Smith, business and computer teacher at MHS, asked that the Business & Computer guide, presented for review last month, be approved.

She reviewed her expectations of the “test out,” and said the result would be a “letter grade on the student’s transcript.” But she pointed out the class could be also be taken to “better” the grade.

Smith told the board that a new Senate Bill 74 requires that students have personal financial skills. In order to comply for all students, these will probably be covered in math standards.

Smith’s curriculum passed 5-0.

After an executive sessions concerning personnel, the board reconvened to approve hourly-wage rates presented during the executive session.

The board also approved a 2 percent salary increase for support staff and administrators.

Keith Collett expressed his concerns how “the dollar gap widens between administration and teachers.”

He noted that each year he makes similar comments.

“I’m not sure we’re doing our society and favors,” he said, but to “remain competitive” it needed to be done. The wage increased passed 5-0.

Three support-staff contracts were presented for non-renewal due to funding cut backs. Those staff were Nancy Caudell, high school food service aide, Diane Branson, elementary food service aide, and Robin Richmond, elementary teacher’s aide.

The request to allow a student, Chase Weber, from the Chase County school district for attendance and approval to be transported by this district was approved.

In other business, the board:

approved a request for a John V. Hansen Memorial Scholarship approval in an agriculture-related vocation in memory of Rev. Brad Hansen’s father.

Hansen, Presbyterian Church minister, is moving to western Kansas, but wanted to leave behind a tribute to make a difference. The scholarship will be for $300 per year for four years.

approved Jim Versch for summer painting projects.

approved replacing the carpet in Arnhold’s office.

Henderson presented board members Susan Robson and Bruce Skiles with plaques for their contributions to USD 408. Both will be stepping down after the next meeting, scheduled for June 27.

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