USD 489 hosts October school board meeting

By CAYDEN SANDERS

The Hays USD 489 Board of Education met Monday night to discuss agenda items in its final meeting of October.

Board member Craig Pallister started the meeting as President Tammy Wellbrock was not able to attend in person, but she joined via Zoom. 

A portion of the meeting revolved around early childhood education and mental health services.

Lindy McDaniel, assistant special education director, discussed needs of the WEKAN Center at the Hadley Center for the Early Childhood Special Education program. She said there is a need for increased space. She said they have an influx of 18- to 21-year-olds using the spaces. The program is to help students with disabilities have a space to learn at an early age. It also aims to help students who are older live on their own as they progress. 

Fort Hays State University and the USd 489 program have partnered to have the speech pathology and the education department work with the students. McDaniel said six students from Fort Hays come to the building on any given day from Monday through Thursday. 

Kyle Carlin, special education director, discussed the positions they have now and funding for the program — as well as how important his staff has been.

USD 489 Superintendent Ron Wilson told the board he is one of three superintendents to talk about K-12 mental health programs that will be brought up in the Kansas Legislature on Thursday. Wilson said the mental health program has aided 155 students this past year in the district. With those numbers, the program has served approximately 10% of middle and high school students. 

Of those 155 students, 55 showed improvement in mental health. Another 75 students were assisted in encouragement for class participation. The program has helped 71% of the students who used the program.  

Wilson also plans to help with legislation to improve funding to schools. Wilson also mentioned public tax dollars should not go to private schools as the public schools should receive that tax money. He also said the legislature needs to help fund schools for special education.

In other business:

  • Wilson talked about an anonymous platform where all board members can answer questions about meetings and see how each is going. The board discussed the self-evaluation tools and timing of the process. The motion passed 6-0. 
  • The board talked about Kansas Association of School Boards hosting strategic planning to be used at the first of the year. The motion passed 6-0.
  • The board discussed livestreaming its work sessions to help with transparency. 
  • Board member Allen Park noted he would like an outline of onboarding for a new BOE member. He also said he would like to discuss how summer school will be conducted.
  • The board election is next week, and all board members stressed the importance of citizens voting when the polling stations open. The general election is Nov. 2.
  • Park asked for additional items to be placed on the agenda for Monday’s meeting as he did not see his items on the list from last month’s meeting. Park wanted to discuss the bond committee and additional bond issues. It was decided the next bond meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Rockwell Administration Center. 
  • Pallister talked about equipment repairs at the Hays High cafeteria, saying Glassman Corp. donated an $8,000 compressor to the school. 
  • Cross Point Church was presented the KHSA 2021 Excellence in Community Service Award for helping with early childhood education.
  • Pallister recognized the Hays High girl’s golf team. The team finished second at the Class 5A state golf tournament. The girls’ team made the state meet for the 16th consecutive year.
  • Casey Herrman, a candidate for the BOE, pointed out early childhood education staff will lose 20 to 30 employees if they are forced to get COVID vaccines within the next month. He asked the board discuss that scenario at its next meeting.
  • The BOE will have a work study session at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 8, with the next regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 22.

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