Archive for Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Students make plea to Topeka

March 10, 2010, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: March 10, 2010, 4:47 p.m.

Tonganoxie High School students are sending a message to Kansas legislators: cease cuts to funding for public education in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Tonganoxie High School principal Jamie Carlisle said he, along with Superintendent Kyle Hayden, media instructor David Walker and assistant THS principal Brent Smith, approached THS media class students about creating and producing a video to send to legislators.

At Monday’s school board meeting, the video was shown to the board and patrons.

In the video, students encourage legislators to not make additional cuts to education.

Students from each school in the district are interviewed in the video, giving testimonies of programs, activities and resources from which they’ve benefited in the district.

The video was sent to state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin, and state Rep. Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie, as well as U.S. Republican Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback and U.S. Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins. Students also sent letters to the elected officials and O’Brien and Holland responded with letters. Regarding Holland, Carlisle said he was “an amazing supporter of education.”

School board president Kay Smith applauded the media class or its work.

“It was very good,” Smith said.

Budget cuts

Hayden told the board he expected additional state budget cuts between $300 and $600 in per pupil state aid.

To combat those numbers, he’s looking at what he calls Level 1 cuts, which would save an estimated $780,000 for the district.

Some of the cuts for 2010-11 include:

• Closing administrative offices and buildings during school vacation days.

• Eliminating THS and TMS summer school programs and reducing the TES program to 12 days.

• Eliminate parents as teachers.

• Reduce para-professional staff by at least five positions and teachers by at least three positions.

The superintendent said it might be “upsetting the apple cart that may not need to be upset” by cutting teacher positions. By the same token May 1 is notification day for teachers of non-renewals, though that could be extended to June 1 if a current bill passes in the Legislature.

“I don’t feel good about notifying anybody at anytime,” Hayden said.

Hayden also reiterated that the district has just $60,000 in contingency reserves. As a comparison, he said Basehor has $300,000, De Soto $4 million and Lawrence $5 million.

“When I say we’re broke …,” Hayden said.

He also weighed in on letters from O’Brien and Holland saying each painted a much different picture. He said the letter from O’Brien was “discouraging” because of funding numbers he said were not accurate.

Fees expected to stay the same

Student fees aren’t expected to increase in 2010-11, Hayden said at Monday’s meeting.

He said the one question mark in his mind pertained to kindergarten fees. Those fees doubled to $180 per school year for the 2009-10 school year.

A rate for kindergarten fees wasn’t made at Monday’s meeting, but Hayden did compare it to Genesis Christian Academy, which charges $290 per year.

The board was in agreement that it should be left at $180. Basehor-Linwood, meanwhile, charges $30 per week. Several board members chimed in that the fees were cheaper than daycare.

A decision on fees typically is made in May, Hayden said.

Busing concerns

Patron Amy Novotney spoke to the board about her concerns regarding the pay-to-ride system no longer being offered next school year.

The system allows parents to pay for their children to be bused if they live less than 2.5 miles from the school where the student attends. Students living beyond 2.5 miles are bused free of charge. Novotney said her family lives just under that 2.5-mile threshold, but said it’s not safe for a young child to be traveling that distance.

She also voiced concern about the possibility of eliminating seventh-grade athletics as a cost-cutting measure.

2010-11 calendar approved

The school board approved the school district’s calendar for the next school year, pending ratification from the teacher’s union.

The first day of school will be Aug. 19 and it will be a half-day. The last day of school is set for May 19, 2011.

Some notes regarding the new calendar:

• Reduces teacher contract days by five, to 179 days.

• Increases teacher contractual day by 15, to 480 minutes. School days will be 7 hours, 15 minutes next school year, which reduces the number of days in school by six. The district would have 165 days in 2010-11.

Hayden said the Lansing school district’s school day also is 7 hours, 15 minutes.

• Increases teacher contractual minutes per year by 360.

• Increases instructional days by 15 minutes, to 410 minutes, which increases instructional minutes per year by 105.

• Reduces and restructures parent/teacher conference days by one as there will be three parent/teacher conference days in 2010-11. They will be during October at the end of the first quarter and in February during the third-quarter mid-term.

• Maintains staff development with modified placement of six days.

• Increases and restructures teacher preparation/planning days by two, to a total of five days.

• Meets minimum state requirement of 1,116 hours.

Technology bids approved

The board approved, 7-0, for the technology department to let bids and secure financing for:

• 150 MS Office 2007 Professional Plus licenses

• 40 Lenovo Think Centre Desktop Computers, 40 Lenovo monitors, 139 Lenovo mini-laptops and seven Lenovo R500 ThinkPad laptops

• Six HP LJ3005DN black printers

• 1 HP LJ3525N color printer

• 2 HP ScanJets

Technology director David Milhon also is seeking a sole provider for 150 Kaseya Managed Framework licenses and state contracts for a Cisco wireless controller and 15 projectors with mounting hardware/cables.

Milhon then discussed the district’s phone system. He said there were issues with the system and that his department plan is “band-aiding and not spend too much money.”

He said the THS west campus building’s phone system is malfunctioning and has to be started multiple times per day.

“That’s not a good way to do business, really,” Milhon said.

There are four phone systems across the district and he said an upgrade would cost about $3,775. Upgrades would be done outside of regular school hours and that would come with 90 days of technical support from Nortel.

Maintenance report

Maintenance director Larry Easter submitted updates to the board regarding his department:

• All HVAC filters in all buildings have been changed. Staff is checking the air flow of each unit in order to determine the best time to change the filters so that the maximum life of the filter as well as peak performance of the unit can be attained.

• Employees repaired the outside air leak at the high school field house, which caused the water line to freeze and break.

• Easter is checking with vendors on the best prices for materials and products for custodial and building maintenance in order to achieve the most savings.

• The maintenance department is getting close to having each of the heating and cooling issues in the buildings resolved. Software has been programmed so that when there is a snow day or no school, temperatures can be lowered in all buildings in order to save on heating bills. This will carry over to summer settings as well. Staff is also in the process of doing the same with regards to lighting, Easter said.

• To help funnel traffic at the middle school, Easter reported chains like the ones installed at the high school west parking lot are being installed at TMS.

A walkway will need to be added to the area to help with foot traffic, which will require setting two poles in concrete, Easter said. That project will need to wait until warmer weather.

Board member Mildred McMillon inquired about deterioration of asphalt around district buildings. Hayden said plans were in the works for repairs in those areas.

Resignations and hires

The board accepted the resignations of Deidria Dolny as middle school counselor, Nena Pierce as THS cheerleading coach, Heidi Meadows as assistant cheerleading coach and Alan Diehl as assistant high school football coach.

The board also accepted the resignations of Steve Hughes, Vickie Hughes and Barb Gurss, but then approved their hirings as part of the KPERS incentive program. Steve Hughes is THS industrial arts teacher, Vickie Hughes is TMS family and consumer sciences teacher and Gurss is TMS and THS physical education teacher.

The board approved the retirement incentive program, pending ratification by the Tonganoxie Education Association.

The board also extended the contract of Brandon Ruud, javelin coach for the high school.

In other business, the board:

• Approved, 7-0, the curriculum course for Tonganoxie middle and high school as presented with the addition of the second level of the leadership in sports class.

• Entered into executive session for a total of 1 hour, 10 minutes to discuss personnel. Hayden joined the meetings for all but 15 minutes, while Jamie Carlisle met with the board and superintendent for 36 minutes total.

Board member Leana Leslie participated for all but 18 minutes of the closed-door meetings.

Comments

kanfarmer 4 years, 1 month ago

Taxpayers pay for a javelin coach? How much does he make? Any one know?

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Jason Bailey 4 years, 1 month ago

Here we go....students who don't have a clue as to how the world of politics work responding as if the cuts to education are legitimate.

Kids: Here's a dirty little secret -- politicians in power in Topeka hate deficits and want to raise income (i.e., taxes) to the state. One surefire way to get people to be receptive to increased taxes is to start hitting them in the teeth with budget cuts. The cuts come in the form of education because it "hurts" people and makes them believe that the situation is so dire that the politicians are being forced to cut what they see as necessities. This is not the case.

The state continues to blow money on discretionary line items like it is candy. The cuts to education is nothing more than an attempt to soften people to impending tax increases. After all, surely the good folks in Topeka wouldn't cut education funding unless it was their only choice, right? Dead wrong.

Instead of telling Topeka to stop cutting education, the students should tell them to stop playing games with the budget where they are funding special interest projects that could be delayed but pulling money from education.

This whole thing is nothing but politics at its ugliest.

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