USD 410 opts out of funding lawsuit

The USD 410 Board of Education decided at its Aug. 9 regular meeting to withdraw from Fair Funding for Schools.

In a 7-0 decision, the board voted to discontinue its membership with FFFS, which filed a school finance lawsuit in June contending the legislature violated the Kansas Constitution by failing to provide sufficient funding for public education as mandated in Montoy v. Kansas.

Last fall, USD 410 and USD 398 Peabody-Burns were the only districts in Marion County to join FFFS. Schools that joined were assessed $2 per student annually, which totaled about $1,200 for the local district.

To continue, annual dues would be $1,864.32, based on $2 per student plus an additional assessment to support litigation of $1.20 per student.

Prior to the vote, Superinten?dent Steve Noble articulated his support regarding USD 410?s involvement in FFFS.

?You hire me to take a position,? Noble told the board.

Noble said although he doesn?t like the idea of suing the state, he does support holding legislators accountable to their constitutional obligation that education funding should be adequate to foster continued improvement of education.

?It?s a Kansas issue,? Noble said about the challenges of maintaining quality education and meeting standards if funds are not there.

In response to Noble?s invitation for board members to state their positions, Rod Koons said, ?I think we?d be disappointed if your position wasn?t (in support of FFFS).?

Constituents, however, have spoken to Koons about this issue, and all have expressed a lack of support for the district to continue its FFFS membership. Consequently, Koons said, he would vote ?no? to continue.

Board president Eddie Weber said he would also vote ?no.?

?It?s not a large amount, but it?s $2,000 that could be spent somewhere else,? he said.

Board members Gary Andrews, Dale Klassen, Mark Rooker, Joe Sechrist and Deb Geis did not verbalize their positions prior to the vote.

Central office plans

Vince Jantz of Jantz Con?struc?tion in Tampa presented the latest drawings for remodeling the Midway Motors building on South D Street as the district office complex.

At this point, Jantz said, the cost of the drawings, which need to be certified, is $1,750. Jantz estimated the remodeling project will cost about $273,150.

?We do have some cushion in (the projected costs),? he said.

Following a discussion, Noble said ?the specs will need to be more nailed down? prior to approving the drawings and opening the project for bids.

Koons expressed his appreciation to Jantz for work already done.

?Thank you for listening to what we wanted in the building,? he said.

Reporting news

In the Learning Showcase, students from two Hillsboro High School groups expressed appreciation to the board for its support for their participation in national competitions.

Ashlyn Simons and Emily Hoskinson, representing the FCCLA Quiz Bowl Team, reported the team placed third. Monica Leihy is the sponsor.

Meghan Leihy, Allison Troyer and Aaron Slater, along with sponsors Creigh Bell and Bob Woelk, reported about their success at the Technology Students Association competition.

TEEN director Brandi Hendrix then showed the board one of the upgraded Polycom carts and TVs purchased for each of the school districts in TEEN.

In building administrator updates, Hillsboro Middle School principal Greg Brown reported about plans to use more online communication as well as pre-school staff development plans for the upcoming week.

Max Heinrich, HHS principal, echoed plans to use electronic communication.

?We?re going to work more and more to become paperless in our office,? Heinrichs said.

He said he anticipates saving postage costs by using electronic report cards, progress reports, discipline reports and academic study hall reports. Parents can request paper copies of those documents, Heinrichs added.

Nineteen students have used the online enrollment option, he reported.

?It?s great?it?s painless,? he said.

Other business

In other business, the board:

? approved requests by the Tabor College football team for bus transportation back and forth Aug. 15-18 to Morning Star Ranch and for shuttling alumni to the football stadium during the college homecoming Oct. 16. Cost is $1 per mile plus $20 per hour for driver.

? approved a request from the Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Association for four buses and drivers to transport people from fairground parking to the downtown area during the Arts & Crafts Fair Sept. 18.

The association will be billed for the actual cost of fuel and drivers, as in past years.

? heard from Noble that the Hillsboro City Council had approved the traffic plan for Hillsboro Elementary School. See the Aug. 11 Free Press for details.

? reviewed the 2010-11 budget, published at 64.144 mills, which is an increase of 5.65 mills. Noble said he anticipated after some adjustment, the budget would be approved as under 60 mills.

? approved disposal of a worn out grand piano in the band room that has been replaced by an electronic piano.

? approved Microsoft Desk?top school license renewal at $26,988.

? approved contracts for Collette Haslett as assistant HHS volleyball coach and Jill Hein and Janet Whisenhunt as GAP co-sponsors.

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