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liberalfirstlongoriginal
Thursday
April 18th, 2019

hatcher and cauble school boardUSD 480 school board member Nick Hatcher and USD 480 Vice President Stu Cauble listen to a presentation during the school board’s most recent meeting Monday evening. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The USD 480 school board dealt with a busy agenda during its most recent meeting Monday evening with the topics ranging from redesign updates to other projects needing done throughout the district. 

To begin the meeting, Liberal citizen Dan Brown came before the board to express some concern about one of the agenda’s action items, the purchase contract for a building at 7 Parkway Boulevard. 

“It’s a pleasure to see you all serving the community and yet, as a taxpayer, I believe pretty highly in education, but I also came to express my concerns about the building you’ve thought about purchasing there at 7th and Parkway,” Brown said. “In my opinion, I think it could be a better business decision to consider some other options. The first thing I look at is the building itself under consideration, it apparently has an appraised value by the county of $673,000, but I’m seeing the board has that building under contract for $800,000. If that’s true, with the purchase of this building, you’re going to lose roughly $32,000 per year from the revenue stream in taxation. It won’t be in just one year but will continue down the road. At the last building, I believe Mr. Hatcher had publicly indicated the former McKinley Elementary School building would be the new administrative building. I believe that’s a much better option than the contract on the table tonight. Then another thing to consider is the demolition costs. For the old Washington site, if I have my numbers right, that was around $103,000, and then the old McDermott site was $179,000. Any one of you could pick at those numbers to see what it could cost you to bulldoze the old McKinley school. The excess funds the school district has could be better utilized without a building purchase, thus supporting the tax base, that’s my opinion. Some other thoughts I have include with the declining enrollment, why not consider cutting administrative costs and vote down this contract for purchase. It would appear the board could be a hero instead of a villain with those considerations.”

The subject of the board’s purchase of the building was the subject of a lengthy discussion later in the meeting, which ultimately saw the board approving the purchase contract by a margin of 5-1, with Board President Steve Helm voting no and Board Member Alan Brown absent for the evening. A full story with details about plans for the building will be in a future L&T edition. 

Later on in the meeting, discussion of the district’s contract with AVID also came up. 

“First question I have, do you think it would be possible to have AVID available for all students in the district sometime in the future?” Board Member Nick Hatcher asked. “Or will it always be a certain number for a certain class?”

“With the elementary schools, that was a direction we were wanting to go,” USD 480 Director of Secondary Education Sheri King said. “However, through the redesign efforts, some of the elementary schools have opted out to continue the AVID program, so we have just the two elementary schools participating in AVID now and school-wide implementation is something that could happen. So I would say for all students at MacArthur Elementary School and all students at Prairie View Elementary, yes, they have AVID. For the secondary schools, we utilize it through the AVID elective classes, but we do practice certain strategies and practices, but they’re not quite yet school-wide. It will never be exclusive, but not every child will have the opportunity to take an AVID elective because that’s not the intent or objective of AVID.”

Board Member Royce Kitts gave praise to the AVID program before asking some questions of his own. 

“AVID’s proven to be so successful, so why are there some schools that are allowed to participate in it, and some schools are allowed to opt out if this is something that’s supposed to help our students?” Kitts asked

“There is a level of implementation that needs to be covered with AVID, there’s a lot of documentation that needs to happen,” King said. “A lot of it is it’s a research-driven organization and it requires the schools that participate to provide all that information. Some schools are okay with that and don’t have a problem gathering all that information and data, and there are other schools who don’t really see the worth of the effort that would be needed for that and simply decide not to participate.”

“I think something we’re definitely seeing in education more recently is not pushing every student toward college, but also taking like some of those CTE courses through the college like the corrosion technology,” Kitts added. “Had I known while I was in library school what I could’ve done as a corrosion technologist, I probably would’ve ended up doing that instead. That was one of my concerns, not only that give the students toward college but also show them pathways toward other fields.”

King then went into more detail about how the overall AVID program has evolved since its inception. 

“When the overall national program started and when we took it on 10 years ago, it was strictly college prep,” King said. “But now, the national program has modified and adjusted its objectives to expand the focus to college and career ready. So even if you go into something like corrosion technology, you still need things like collaboration, inquiry skills and organization, all of which can be taught to provide more of those CTE-like classes.”

“And to add to that, for the schools that are opting out of AVID, they are looking at other alternatives that provide a lot of the same structures and support and vision as AVID, those programs just don’t require all the same documentation as AVID,” USD 480 Director of Elementary Education Lana Evans said. “So they are looking for something to allow the students to have that time to take those sorts of classes. They are aware AVID is very powerful and are looking for something very similar, just not necessarily under that AVID umbrella.”

Several more minutes of conversation ensued and ultimately, the board approved the renewal of the contract with AVID for the 2019-20 school year by a margin of 6-0, with Brown absent for the evening. In other business, the board also approved the renewal of the district’s membership with the Kansas Association of School Boards and approved the bid from Southwest Glass & Door for $466,600 for the replacement of windows and doors at Liberal High School.

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