Marion board cuts staff, may alter two sports

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DONNA HAJEK
>About 30 onlookers-primarily Marion teachers-were on hand at the April 12 meeting of the Unified School District 408 Board of Education to hear final decisions regarding personnel cuts.

Due to declining enrollment and a state funding education, board members had previously indicated the likelihood of reducing staff.

Superintendent Gerry Henderson noted “there is no positive news from Topeka,” at which time board members adjourned to meet in executive session.

An hour later, members returned to address the public with resolutions regarding nonrenewals and reports of resignations.

Board member Roger Hannaford read the resolution mandating the nonrenewal of a contract for Elaine Shannon, media specialist for Marion Elementary School. A teacher in the Marion-Florence district since 1995, Shannon is entitled to due process and may appeal the board’s decision.

Board member Keith Collett read the resolution for nonrenewing the contract for Matt Robert, Marion High School industrial education and computer application instructor.

A letter of resignation from Carolyn Moore was read to and accepted by the board. Moore is the MHS language arts and Student Council sponsor.

Board members spoke of the difficulty of making the decisions to cut staff, and each indicated hope that USD 408’s quality of education would keep moving forward.

Henderson distributed to the board a list of teachers who would receive contracts for the 2004-05 school year.

Staff was not the only cut made, however. Reporting low participation in both softball and baseball, Henderson recommended the board consider a cooperative agreement to continue those programs in cooperation with surrounding schools.

This request would be effective for the 2004-05 school year.

Board member Chris Sprowls suggested the board not limit this idea “to only those two sports.”

Jim Versch, MHS art instructor, asked the board to approve a proclamation to allow Monday, April 19, as Fine Arts Day. Versch said Marion would be hosting the last Cottonwood Valley League art show where peers and art instructors would judge students’ art displays.

Tours are planned for the day’s activities at various Marion businesses as well as a “sidewalk chalk masterpiece” contest in the downtown area. The public is invited to view the exhibits that will be hosted at the Marion City Building.

The plan was approved, 7-0.

In other matters:

— Henderson received a letter from the state office of the American Heart Association thanking MES for their fund-raising work.

— Wrestling coach Chad Adkins introduced his participants and commended three state qualifiers: Chelsea Arnhold, Drew Looper and Steven Boone. Adkins, who was assisted by Shawn Spoonts, said the team would “bring a lot of kids back next year with a variety of experience.”

— The board approved Henderson’s recommendation to continue participating in the Kansas Association of School Boards and the KASB Legal Assitance Fund.

— Approved the use of MES building for a vacation Bible school location this summer.

— The board approved Henderson’s request for a snow makeup day that was done April 12, 2004.

— 2004-05 school calendar recommendation was approved as submitted to the board.

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