Archive for Thursday, February 16, 2006

School board eyes items at long meeting

February 16, 2006

Monday's Baldwin Board of Education meeting was packed with a virtual school proposal, air quality problems, bus and dirt work bids, district-wide reports, one patron complaint and an audit report.

The item at the meeting that drew much attention and time was the presentation from Insight Schools, which is a privately-funded virtual school company.

Insight Schools is looking at coming to Kansas and having the Baldwin School District as its home in the state. A presentation was given about the company, how it works and how the Baldwin School District would be involved.

"We need to think about it and investigate it a little bit further," School Board Member Alison Bauer said. "I would like us to take a leadership role. I think it could be beneficial for our district and all of the kids in Kansas. I really am exciting about us exploring it further."

Insight Schools would charge the district nothing for the school and would provide the startup capital. Then, once the number of students was high enough that there was a surplus of money coming in, the district would begin to receive money from Insight Schools.

The school district would be able to count the enrolled students on its annual budget, which would bring in more state aid money.

Insight Schools also fits their curriculum to each state's standards. So, the students in Kansas would be required to take the state assessments.

"Initially it sounds like a win for us and a win for them," School Board President Lonnie Broers said. "We just want to make sure it is that way."

After the presentation, the school board decided wait on making a decision, because there was so much information to take in at the meeting.

"There is a lot of information to be digested," Broers said. "I think the board made a wise decision to consider it at a later date. We all need time to review it a little more and get more information."

School Board Member Ruth Barkley said she liked the presentation, but the board wants to look into the idea a bit more.

"They were extremely informative," Barkley said. "I'm encouraged that the board is going to look into it deeper to make sure this will be a good fit if the district goes forward with it."

The discussion was tabled until the board's next meeting on Feb. 27, where it will then make a decision.

At the meeting, Supt. James White said the state finished the district's audit and the results found around 25 to 30 more students than were used for the budget originally published in August.

White said the board can republish the budget to receive an additional $63,000, approximately, from state aid.

The next item at the meeting was the heating air problems at the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center. White said the company that designed the system will be replacing the system and paying for it. The district would only have to pay $23,550 for gas reheat units that it chose not to get when the building was built.

"We've been working to try and get those problems resolved for a year-and-a-half," White said. "Hopefully, we are getting very close to a solution."

Broers and Barkley each questioned White about the price of the system being fixed and why it was being done.

After the brief discussion, the board decided to try and get bids for how much the work would cost by a different company.

The problem with the original system is that it is too large for the building and it was cooling the school without removing the humidity.

"The system was oversized and, because of that, it didn't go completely through its cycle and pull in sufficient amounts of fresh air," White said.

White said the new system will help the building have air moving constantly.

"We will have a more continuous airflow," White said. "We are hopeful that will improve it greatly."

The heating and air system was not the only discussion of bids at the meeting. The school board voted 6-0 to approve the bid for a 2003 school bus with 19,549 miles on it for $44,150.

"We are trying to get back on a rotation plan so that we get at least one new bus every year," White said.

Broers said Transportation Supervisor Linda Russell was satisfied with the bus.

"I talked with Linda (Russell) this morning and she said she likes used buses, and 19,000 or 20,000 miles doesn't mean anything," Broers said.

The school board also voted 6-0 to approve the dirt work bids for the proposed baseball and softball fields near BESIC. The board chose King Construction, which had the lower of the two bids at $157,500.

"As soon as we get all of the information from the city and the recreation commission, then we will put that together to see if everyone is happy with the bids," White said. "If everybody is happy, then we will go forward."

During the delegations portion of the meeting, school district patron Richard Austin spoke about the Baldwin High School newspaper. He was concerned with the back page graphic showing male genitalia.

He thought the graphic took away from the quality of the article and thought that it should not be used in a high school newspaper. Neither White nor school board members responded to the complaint.

Also at the meeting were many district employees, who were reporting on their collaboration day Feb. 6. The Professional Learning Committees that spoke were family consumer science, business, technology, industrial arts, kindergarten and first grade.

Barkley thought the reports are very helpful to the school board.

"It is very exciting to hear their feedback and how positive it's been for them," Barkley said. "I think they are benefiting a lot from their time spent together."

The school board also approved the school calendar for the 2006-2007 school year, which is similar to this year's calendar.

After executive session, the board approved the personnel report, which included the hiring of several assistant BHS and Baldwin Junior High School coaches for track and softball.

The next regular school board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the District Office. The board will be meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in executive session to discuss personnel and superintendent search matters.

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