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September 19th, 2019

6 10 19 school board hickert and brownUSD 480 Superintendent Renae Hickert listens to a question from USD 480 school board member Alan Brown at the beginning of the USD 480 school board’s most recent meeting Monday evening. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Summer projects are under way for USD 480 and Monday evening saw the USD 480 school board discuss more projects and overall student welfare during the board’s most recent meeting. 

Up first under new business was the board hearing from Al Shank of Al Shank Insurance regarding property and liability insurance. 

“You’ve had a chance to look through all the information that’s been sent to you you’ll note for this year, we are down,” Shank began. “Last year the premium was slightly more than $940,000 and this year it’s just a little less than $900,000. We’ll be in the process of taking South Middle School off of the policy, so when that goes through and changes hands to the city, it will save the district $17,000 per year. We’ll also be adding some concession buildings at the middle schools and at 7 Parkway Boulevard, there isn’t really a lot in there yet, so there will probably be a slight fluctuation of those numbers. On the premium front, that’s pretty good news and our blanket policy for buildings and personal property ... with the new buildings and the buildings we have yet to take off and that sort of thing, you have a blanket policy for that that’s a little more than $214 million. And of course there’s the $10,000 deductible except for the wind and hail, which is $25,000. There are some other changes that will be happening – with the automobiles, there are 102 vehicles listed on that part of the policy and that’s remained pretty consistent. There are some other parts of the policy that have stayed the same. There’s also good news on the worker’s compensation front, our experience modification has dropped from a 1.43 to 1.35, that was probably the biggest saver for you in the entire package. We’re having another good year workman’s comp-wise – if you’ll remember, we had worried about some of the claims this year, and those are going to count toward the experience modification. So the good news, when you roll into this coming year, you’ll roll into a decent year off a somewhat rocky year.”

Shank gave the board a few more numbers to mull over before answering some questions. 

“Is there a reason our umbrella coverage went up?” board member Nick Hatcher asked. 

“Usually that gets keyed off of your general liability, the auto and work comp,” Shank said. “When you have losses in those areas is when you see the umbrella coverage see an increase.”

“I know you gave the city a few weeks ago, what kind of check did you give them at that time?” Board President Steve Helm asked. 

“The city’s actually part of the Kansas Municipal Utilities Program, which is put together by EMC,” Shank replied. “They got one of their larger checks for a $105,000 dividend, You’re in the same type of program for but unfortunately the schools haven’t done as well as the cities have. If it’s ever out there, you’ll get one, but it just hasn’t ended up that way. So overall, this year’s been better experience not only from experience modification on down, but I expect it to go down again for next year.”

After some more questions and discussion, the board ultimately approved the renewal with EMC for $899,869 by a margin of 5-0, with board members Stewart Cauble and Royce Kitts absent. 

School meals were also on the agenda as board also talked about  the updated proposed meal charging policy for the 2019-20 school year as well as the 2019-20 breakfast and lunch prices. 

“I think it’s nuts how our district has what, close to 90 percent of our students on free and reduced lunches and we charge the other 10 percent of our students to pay for it,” board member Travis Combs said. 

“I think we ought to be giving those students in the 10 percent the same privileges as the 90 percent,” board member Alan Brown said. “I think it’s gotten to where we know it’s not our people’s fault and it doesn’t take much paperwork to get on the free and reduced lunch list. And just like anything else, there are people out there who have that need, but there are also a lot of people who know how to play the system. And it’s a federal program, so there’s nothing we can do about it. Personally, I’d rather give everyone the free meals.”

“Right now, according to our numbers, we have 11.51 percent of all of our meals paid for by students,” USD 480 Director of Operations Chad Mease added. “Then there’s 2.75 percent paid by adults and the remaining 85-86 percent are on free and reduced meals.”

Discussion continued on this topic for several more minutes. 

“If we gave away free lunches we’d have an issue because people wouldn’t fill out the forms and everything else needed,” Brown said. “If we said ‘If you want free lunches, fill out the paperwork’ and they’ll get it through the district or through the state.”

“Another thing you’d see is if we started doing that, the number of meals served would go up, and the ones who qualify for the meals would be getting somewhat overlooked and the ones who might not need it as much would start taking advantage of it,” Mease replied. “So those costs would definitely go up.”

After more discussion, the board ultimately approved the meal charging policy (which would include the addition of utilizing from an "Emergency Fund Account" which is funded by donations) by a margin of 5-0, with board members Cauble and Kitts absent. In other business, the board approved the proposed K-5 redesign programs and professional learning and accepted a quote from KCAV for $18,230 for projectors for the LHS science classroom remodel.

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