The current condition of many USD 234 facilities was the main topic at Monday night's regular meeting, prompting discussion between board members on whether it was time to possibly start looking into improvements.
The discussion came on the heels of a bond refinancing presentation by Dustin Avey, of Piper Jaffray & Co., who implied there is a clock running on refinancing existing bonds, because of anticipated legislative action that could affect state aid in paying back bonds, including the possibility that those actions might be considered retroactively. Avey said any changes in state aid would likely take place July 1. The state currently funds bonds at a 45 percent rate.
Incoming Business Manager Susan Brown suggested enlisting the services of an independent financial adviser, who would not be purchasing bonds before considering any refinancing options.
Business Manager Tiffany Forester presented a long list of needed improvements to be considered as summer projects from a recent USD 234 facility tour.
The three-page list includes larger ticket items such as $200,000 for a new heating and cooling system for Fort Scott High School; $100,000 for replacement of many windows at Winfield Scott Elementary; $95,000 for window replacement at Eugene Ware; and about $46,000 for roof repairs at Eugene Ware.
"We have a lot of needs," Superintendent Diane Gross said. "Some of the things that may have been shoved aside because there wasn't money to do it -- we have to start acting on some of those now."
"We've put on a lot of Band-Aids," Board President Janet Braun added.
"I think one of the things we need to do is to bring in some sort of structural engineer to tell us if it's worth spending money to do all the Band-Aids and continue to do that, or do we really need to pursue a bond issue?"
Board member Justin Meeks said he'd be interested in gathering input from the community before pursuing any of action.
"I agree, we have buildings that are ancient," Meeks said. "The whole state has elected very conservative people ... We might be forced to raise our mill to fund what we have now, so there is a lot to think about. I'm all for building a new high school, but how are we going to afford it?"
Board member Jordan Witt said he is more interested into looking into repairs right now.
"I think it's really early to start throwing around the term 'new," Witt said.
During the superintendent's report, Gross presented three options for teacher evaluations, including KEEP (Kansas Educator Evaluation Protocol), Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning and the Danielson Framework. Gross said any of the three models would require additional staff training and support and has been led to believe that the KEEP model would be funded by the state. Additional information on KEEP can be viewed at www.ksde.org.
Gross added there is interest from the teacher organization, Fort Scott Kansas National Education Association, in adopting Internet Based Bargaining as a collaborative bargaining process for USD 234 employees.
Gross also presented three options for a 2013-2014 calendar for consideration by the board, principals and staff members district-wide and announced her intent to present a State of the District address sometime in January.
During that address, Gross said she would like to solicit questions and comments from the public.
Board members also thanked Forester for her service to USD 234 and welcomed Brown to the district.
In other business, the board:
*Opted for Ryan Insurance for property insurance for 2013 coverage at a premium of $29,309 and Wood-Dulohery for liability/vehicle insurance for $32,029.
*Listened to a presentation from the Fort Scott Middle School Positive Actions with Students (PAWS) group.
*Approved a job description presented by Gross for an instructional coach to mentor teachers through the Literacy First Program. Gross said the position would be created by a shuffling of current employees and would not require an additional paid staffer.
*Approved a new wrestling score clock costing $1,913.15 to be taken from the stadium sign funds account.
*Accepted checks for the Needy Student Fund ($577.22) and FSMS Project Art ($500) from the Fort Scott Kiwanis Club.
*Accepted grants of $1,000 (Eugene Ware), $960 (FSMS) and $995.97 (Fort Scott High School) for the Healthy Habits for Life Grant.
*Accepted the resignations of Kevin Gray, FSHS soccer coach, Teresa Allen, FSHS paraeducator, and Karla Cook, Eugene Ware teacher's aide.
*Accepted the employment of Curt Toll as FSHS assistant track coach, Casey Lewis as Eugene Ware paraeducator and Nancy White as Eugene Ware at-risk teacher aide.
*Accepted the transfer of Debby Myers from preschool paraeducator to FSHS paraeducator.