Archive for Wednesday, August 16, 2006

School board briefs

August 16, 2006

ACT scores up substantially
Tonganoxie High School's cumulative ACT scores reached a new peak this year.

At Monday night's Tonganoxie school board meeting, Superintendent Richard Erickson said the cumulative ACT score was 23.0 for the 2005-2006 school year.

This is up from 21.2 of the previous year.

"We knew that we had eight seniors last year that scored 30 or above on their ACT scores," Erickson said. "Obviously, our composite score is up this year with those eight seniors. ... That's our highest score in recent history and maybe in the history of the school district."

And Erickson noted, the 23.0 is significantly higher than the state average of 21.8.

"The class of 2006 was the first class that we started the freshman counseling session where we strongly encouraged students to take the ACT test more than once during their high school career," Erickson said. "I'm hopeful that we're seeing a trend right now. As we turn a corner on facilities, I hope we turn another corner as we climb the mountain as far as ACT scores.

FCCLA students plan cancer benefit

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America state officers Sara Herdman and Amie Riddle talked to board members about their recent and upcoming FCCLA activities. Herdman, who is Kansas FCCLA president, and Riddle, state vide president of community service, were among youths who recently traveled to a FCCLA convention in Nashville.

While there, they participated in a national FCCLA Relay for Life, an event that raises funds for cancer research.

"We're going to be trying really hard to get one (a Relay for Life) going in our community this year," Riddle said.

Herdman said she looks forward to making meetings run more smoothly. "Kick it up a notch to empower people to kick it up a notch, whether it's in FCCLA, their lives, their family, their community," Herdman said.

Construction work continues at schools

Kris Roberts, construction manager for Turner Construction, said work was progressing in front of the high school to prepare the parking lot for the start of school.

"We're working real hard to turn over the vestibule of the high school," Roberts said of the renovation of the front entrance.

And the middle school is on target for a January opening.

"At the middle school, we'll start doing punch lists out there," Roberts said. "We'll be turning it over on Nov. 1, at which point furniture can be moved in and teachers can start using the facility."

A possible holdup to using the new school could be the water supply. The new water tower has been built and should be painted within the next couple of weeks.

"And then it's a matter of getting the water tower filled," Roberts said.

Superintendent Richard Erickson said he had talked to City Administrator Mike Yanez about the water line that needs to be run from the city water plant to the new water tower.

"Mr. Yanez indicated that he hoped the city council would take action tonight to run that Fourth Street water line and whatever condemnations would take place so that we would have water," Erickson said. "He (Yanez) was hoping by the middle to latter part of October."

However, the city council did not take action Monday. Council members will meet in a special session at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday to discuss a waterline project that is necessary before the water tower can be filled.

Roberts asked board members to approve a bid for wiring to connect Internet and phone service between the high school campus and new middle school.

She said the school had received two bids for running the wiring overhead, using existing Westar power poles.

Roberts said a bid from KNW Underground Inc., came in at $43,711.

She noted another bid, from Sunflower Broadband, Lawrence, would have been $719 a month, plus $2,000 for installation.

"Sunflower already had pulled cable into the new school where you have Sunflower cable," Roberts said. "This is the fiberoptics that connects the phone lines so that you have one phone service, one Internet."

Board member Darlyn Hansen moved to accept the KNW bid, seconded by Bob Dehoff. The motion passed 7-0.

District changing rules for promotion

At Monday night's meeting Tonganoxie school board members approved in a 7-0 vote changes to student handbook. The changes, presented by TES assistant principal Tammie George, deal with retention and promotion. This includes mandatory summer school for K-12 students who meet one or both these criteria:

  • Achieve a score in the bottom two categories of the Kansas Math or Reading Assessment.
  • Are recommended because they fail to meet classroom requirements in reading or math.

The requirements for summer school are that the students attend daily and complete the work required.

No grades on the transcript will be changed as a result of the attendance at summer school. However, a grade of "pass" or "fail" will be noted on the transcript, or within the cumulative folder.

Transportation to and from summer school will be provided by the district.

The changes also state that each teacher will consider these factors, relating to whether a student is promoted to the next grade:

  • Academic achievement in core classes.
  • Satisfactory attendance.
  • Prior retentions.

Test results, chronological age and the physical development of each child also may be used as secondary criteria in determining a student's readiness for the next grade.

A final decision of whether a child is promoted or retained will rest with the school building's principal.

George said the changes will take effect this school year. As the student handbooks already have been printed, George said an addendum to the handbook will be distributed to parents.

Employee handbook action put on hold

Board members postponed approving changes to the classified employee handbook, primarily because of confusion as to whether employees are allowed to leave the school premises during their 15-minute breaks.

"Some employees have gotten dinged because they've gone off-site and some employees don't," said board member Leana Leslie. "We need to make sure the managers of these people are abiding by the handbook."

After more discussion, Leslie said, it's important to be consistent.

"We need to make sure that some of these employees aren't being held to different standards than others," Leslie said.

Board OKs payment to fellow member

Board member Darlyn Hansen left the room when the school board voted to approve the consent agenda, which includes approving the payment of bills. Hansen's firm, Microresources, has been managing the district's competitive purchasing program.

According to a handout distributed at the board meeting by Erickson, Hansen's firm has purchased $350,542 in new and used supplies and equipment for the school district. Most of the purchases have been made in the past 12 months. Erickson said the purchasing program has saved the district more than $550,000.

District to review boundary changes

Board members Monday night discussed a new state law that requires school districts to adjust their boundaries of school board member districts. The law applies if the population of a member district is more than 5 percent above or below the mean population of other member districts in the school district.

"I would think, in a district like ours that is growing, that we probably need to redistrict every 10 years, minimum," said Superintendent Richard Erickson.

However, Erickson noted, if the district changed to have all board members be elected at-large, rather than by district, redistricting would not be necessary.

Board member Ron Moore recommended the district start by obtaining an accurate population count for each board district.

"I don't see any need to take action unless we're out of balance or if there is a problem," Moore said.

Board members also met in executive session with THS principal Tatia Shelton for 65 minutes. Board president Kay Smith didn't attend the session because of a conflict of interest.

After reconvening in open session, board members:

  • Hired Ed Kissinger, Richard Riedel and James Sanders as van drivers; Jared Jackson as freshman girls basketball head coach; and Rhonda McHenry for a cafeteria position.
  • Accepted the resignation of cafeteria worker Julia Jellison.
  • Transferred Charles Brady to high school maintenance.

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