USD 489 board discusses bond next steps, self-evaluation results and student fees

BY ALICIA FEYERHERM

After the recent passing of the USD 489 School bond, Superintendent Ron Wilson recognized the Vote Yes Committee at the May 16 Board of Education meeting. 

“What we accomplished can never be understated,” Wilson said. “We accomplished something really, really amazing with this bond issue.”

Vote Yes Committee Chairman David Clingan thanked the board for their unanimous support of the bond. 

“When you voted unanimously for this to go to ballot you made a very large and public statement of support and I appreciate every one of you when you did that,” Clingan said. 

The City Commission also unanimously voted to put the sales tax provision on the ballot. 

“We are in a community of great people and I’m really just honored to be with these people,” Clingan said. 

District administrators will start meeting with the contractors for the bond starting next week. The next step will be a site survey of the area, looking at the slope of the land and seeing where utilities will be laid out. 

“This is the first step of a million steps but we have to do that first,” Wilson said. 

Kansas Association of School Boards member Gary Sechrist provided the board with feedback based on the self-evaluation completed last fall. 

Questions on the evaluation were categorized by board member action, board meeting practices, vision and planning, policy, financial planning and board superintendent relations with respondents ranking the statements on a scale from one to four. Respondents also ranked how important they felt each question was. 

Sechrist then averaged the scores listed below.

Board Member Actions: 2.52
Importance: 3.81

Board Meeting Practices: 3.4
Importance: 3.78

Vision and Planning: 3.17
Importance: 3.6

Policy: 3.08
Importance: 3.74

Financial Planning: 3.34
Importance: 3.81

Board and Superintendent Relations: 2.84
Importance: 3.88

The individual question with the biggest gap between the current practice and the importance was “During the decision-making process, board members think independently, but once the decision is made, all board members respect the decision and the board speaks with one voice.”

The current practice was a 2.1 but the importance ranked a 4. 

Sechrist thanked the board for taking the time to complete the evaluation. 

“It is always great information when you’re trying to do the great things that you’re trying to do for kids,” Sechrist said. 

Student Fees were approved for the next school year. 

“Part of what we have to do at these chairs is to not look at it as how we would like it as a parent but how we have to manage a budget for this budget,” Board President Tammy Wellbrock said.

Board member Craig Pallister noted in prior years the increase in fees was not the fault of the board. 

“Our prior governors and legislators cut education to the point where we had to go back to our local people to raise fees,” Pallister said. 

Pallister worries that depending on the upcoming elections, we could be “back in the same boat.”

However, for the next school year, parents will see a decrease in fees. At the middle and high school level, the Technology Repair Fee was reduced along with the Student ID Fee and Driver’s Education costs.

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