410 board and patrons hear district evaluation

More than 35 people attended the regular Board of Education meeting for Unified School District?410 held March 9 at Hillsboro Elementary School.

Most came to hear findings about the district from a review conducted by a five-member team from the Center for Innovate School Leadership, a program created by the Legislature in 2004. Participation by Kansas school districts is voluntary.

Team leader Susan Hernandez summarized the data gathered from district documents, surveys and focus groups with students, staff, administrators, parents and patrons, and a January site visit.

The CISL team centered its analysis on four areas: facilities management, human resource, leadership, and teaching and learning.

The purpose of the study, Hernandez said, was to help the USD 410 ?realize greater efficiency and effectiveness? through noting commendations and making recommendations for improvement to the board.

Praises, recommendations

Hernandez praised the good work being done at USD 410.

Among the list of commendations, Hernandez noted high employee retention, well-kept buildings, effective site councils, comprehensive health benefits, a strong commitment to experiential learning through Project Lead the Way and participation by administrators in team planning at all levels.

?The multi-tiered system of supports used in the elementary and middle schools could be a model for the state,? Hernandez said about using data to meet individual needs of students.

The CISL recommendations included develop a long-term strategic plan for maintaining and replacing facilities, clarify responsibilities and roles that have changed recently, and establish intentional training program for new employees.

Across the board, Hernandez said, USD 410 stakeholders expressed concern about inadequate counseling services.

The board can choose which recommendations to adopt because they are not binding, she said.

Legislative activity

Superintendent Steve Noble reported on discussions in the Legislature about moving to a block grant rather than using the current system for funding school districts.

The reported rationale for ?changing rules in the middle of the game,? Noble said, is the current formula?s complexity and the need for more flexibility at the local level.

Noble said he sees the state not wanting to pay what it?s been asked to pay.

?We can expect a pretty big hit when the bill is passed,? Noble said, citing a projected loss of $130,000 for USD 410.

Last year, voters approved an increase to 33 percent for local funding from property taxes that, because of anticipated state aid, would result in a tax decrease.

Noble said passage of the block grant, however, affects that outcome.

In April, voters will decide through mail-in ballot whether the district can keep the 33 percent local option authority. But with less state funds, Noble said, local taxes will likely increase.

Noble announced spring elections will be April 7 for board of education members. All open positions are at-large.

Other business

In other business, the board:

? approved the 2015-16 calendar.

? approved purchase of student and staff computers for $95,560.

? approved purchase of networking equipment for $50,1395 contingent on receipt of E-Rate funding.

? approved a contract agreement with Prairie View for its summer program.

? authorized disposal of a 1995 Ford 47-passenger bus, to be listed on Purple Wave for a minimum bid of $12,500.

? declared a rental house at 508 E. A St. as surplus property and authorized its disposal.

? approved a one-year lease renewal with Grace Community Church for use of Hillsboro Elementary School.

? met in executive session for 35 minutes for personnel matters. Upon returning to open session, the board approved the resignation of Russell Bennett as Oasis bus route driver; work agreements with Eldon Funk as Oasis bus-route driver, Russell Bennett as shop attendant/ district technology assistant, and Jessica Fine as administrative assistant for Hillsboro Middle/High School; a supplemental contract for Brian Allen as HHS baseball assistant coach; and two-year contracts for Max Heinrich as principal for grades six to 12, Greg Brown as activity director and assistant principal for grades six to 12, and Evan Yoder as principal for pre-kindergarten to grade five.

? was updated by Noble about the HES playground project. So far, close to $114,500 net income has been collected. The project team has yet to hear about several grants.

He said work on the north playground will begin this summer.

? heard from Noble that TEEN is looking at purchasing Egenuity, an all-digital online resource to be used in the core curriculum for grades six to 12.

?It?s aligned with college/career standards for English, science, social studies and math,? Noble said, adding no decision has been reached yet.