ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ALEEN RATZLAFF
The Unified School District 410 Board of Education devoted more than two hours to brainstorming and planning at its regular meeting Monday evening.
Board members primarily discussed issues related to three items listed on the planning agenda prepared by Superintendent Gordon Mohn: closing the achievement gap of the district’s students, meeting early-childhood needs and providing adequate facilities for the 21st century.
Facility space is a primary concern regarding the all-day kindergarten and the 4-year-old At-Risk programs, Mohn said, adding that one option to consider would be leasing a mobile for the short-term.
“We have kids coming to school with fewer skills,” said Evan Yoder, Hillsboro Elementary School principal. “I think this is a big problem.”
Mohn proposed calling a Childcare Summit after the first of the year that would draw employers, parents and childcare providers to discuss such concerns shared by stakeholders in the community.
“We need to take the lead,” said board vice-president Rod Koons about the school’s role in meeting local childcare needs.
Regarding the district’s long-range plans of “laptops for every child,” Mohn said he would bring a technology update to the board in spring.
Hillsboro Middle School principal Corey Burton reported that students will be donating $1,500 to an elementary school in Mississippi that received severe damages from Hurricane Katrina.
Both Burton and Yoder reported that their teaching staffs participated in recent training sessions regarding general education and student improvement.
Hillsboro High School principal Dale Honeck said departments have been making plans for next year, some of which he’ll introduce to the board in January.
Activities director Max Heinrich said the winter sports teams were off and running with the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams competing in a tournament in Dickinson County and the wrestling team at Hesston.
He also reported that 16 students were accepted into the National Honor Society in a ceremony held earlier that evening.
The Booster Club is contributing toward new banners that will hang in the Brown Gymnasium and post the years in which Hillsboro High School teams have been state and league champions.
Also on Monday evening’s agenda was a recommendation regarding school vouchers to be submitted by Education Commissioner Bill Corkin to the Kansas State Board of Education at its next meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 13.
Mohn said Corkin’s controversial proposal would provide scholarships for eligible students at-risk to attend accredited non-public schools, such as Catholic and other private schools.
The scholarships, however, wouldn’t cover full tuition for students to attend private schools, which would decide whether or not to admit those students, Mohn said.
Mohn also reviewed a statement prepared by the Kansas Association of School Boards that identified concerns regarding the voucher and other school choice issues.
Mohn presented a suggestion from the district’s Leadership Team that asked the board to consider establishing a screening process for accepting out-of-district students. No proposal was made at the meeting.
The board approved payment of bills presented by Jerry Hinerman, the district’s business manager.
The meeting ended with the board taking a tour of the high school facilities.
Board president Brent Barkman was absent from the meeting.