Archive for Thursday, March 16, 2006

Monday’s meeting has wide array of topics, action

March 16, 2006

Monday's Baldwin Board of Education meeting was packed full of topics and action that included elementary art, a new junior high sound system, Insight Schools, track update and next year's budget.

First up was taking care of the elementary art proposal from Curriculum Director Connie Wehmeyer. The proposal will be adding more time for art in the two Baldwin elementary schools.

"More than anything else, it will be balancing the time," Supt. James White said. "Some of the time students were spending at the schools was not equal. This is trying to equalize it."

Every kindergarten class in the district will be spending 30 minutes a week on art. Grades 1-5 will now be spending between 45 minutes and an hour every week on art. The Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center will be having its students work on art 30 times during the year in one-hour sessions.

The board approved the proposal with a 7-0 vote.

White said the proposal was brought up at the last meeting, but board members needed more time to think about it.

"We talked a little bit about it at our previous meeting and (board member) Ande (Parks) wanted a little bit more information about the program," White said. "Dr. Wehmeyer provided that to him and the rest of the board."

Later in the meeting, the board briefly discussed the sound system in Baldwin Junior High School. The public address system was part of this year's capital outlay money projects.

The board voted 7-0 to accept the bid from MSM Systems, Inc. White said the system is expected to be replaced and ready for Baldwin High School's graduation ceremony May 20.

"We are hoping," White said. "That's our goal. We have been so displeased the last few years with the P.A. system in there. Last year, several people told me they couldn't hear a thing at graduation. It's been a sore spot for several of the board members."

The third action by the board dealt with the heating and air conditioning units at Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center. This discussion was tabled from the Feb. 13 meeting.

The board approved the proposal with a 7-0 vote. White said the new units, which will replace units that were too big, will be ordered immediately, but might not be installed until the end of May. Airflow and quality will be improved.

"I am glad to have that part over, but I will be more pleased when we get the whole project done," White said.

Another topic that was tabled from the February meeting was the Insight Schools proposal. Insight schools is a privately-funded virtual school company that is interested in making Baldwin its home for a state-wide online school.

Kirt Nilsson, vice president of Insight Schools, came to update the board on the proposal.

Since the last meeting, the board had a few questions for Nilsson about the benefits for the district, financial aspects of the proposal and how the school would affect the district's yearly progress.

"I think they have done an admirable job of trying to answer all of our questions," School Board President Lonnie Broers said. "There are still some that are unanswered, but I think they intend to do their best in answering those."

White said the big problem for the board is how the yearly progress will be measured.

"I think the real hang up right now is how the youngsters will be dealt with in regard to adequate yearly progress," White said. "Right now, the students in our schools that seem to be falling behind can get extra help. I think the board and our staff are really sensitive to making help available to students who need it, so we do meet AYP."

Nilsson said some of the benefits would include better solutions to education for some students. He also said they are working on compiling a better list of course offerings.

"We are putting together a comprehensive list of online courses," Nilsson said. "We are also adding dual credit classes in January of this year."

Parks thought the benefits for the Baldwin School District could be divided into three categories.

"There are three possible benefits: the kids in our district, the kids of Kansas and the financial part," Parks said.

Nilsson answered a few questions the board had about the terms in which it could back out of the contract, if accepted. Board members wondered if the school didn't work out like planned, what would be the deciding factor in ending the contract.

The discussion centered around finding a number of students that would have to be enrolled to continue the contract. The board sent Nilsson back with a few more questions before it makes a decision at its next meeting on March 27.

"They answered all of the questions they could at this time, but they have to get back to us about the financial plan and the legal questions about the district," Board Member Bill Busby said.

Monday's meeting also saw the discussion about the track situation for BHS and BJHS. White said the district has created shot put and discus rings near the tennis courts at BHS. He also said a long jump and triple jump runway was laid north of BHS, near the soccer field.

"We had to upgrade some of those different areas so the kids would have somewhere to practice," White said. "We put in a runway that can be used for both the long jump and triple jump. Then we put in shot put and discus rings, so they could practice also."

Since Baker's Liston Stadium is under construction this spring, the BHS track teams have been practicing at Wellsville twice a week.

White informed the board that he was looking around at different companies for prices on placing a track around the BHS soccer field. He said he found out about one company while at a state meeting.

"I was at a meeting with the state co-op, and one of the people there told me the Atlas track company helps you build tracks," White said. "I hadn't heard much about that in the past, but it looked interesting. They gave me a booklet of information and some guidelines of what the cost might be."

"They are going to come out and take a look at the area by the high school where we are thinking about for a track and kind of give us an estimate on what it might take to install a track around the soccer field," White said.

The new business at the meeting dealt with the 2006-2007 budget. White said the district has approximately 40 percent of its funds left for the year.

"It looks like most of our accounts are running right around the 40 percent remaining area," White said. "That's about where we should be. That's normally where we are in March."

White also gave a brief update on the capital outlay projects the district is working on this year. The final budget talk was about personnel needs at the different schools for next year.

"As we've talked through this year, we have taken a look at some of the real needs we have as we try to help students learn," White said. "Those were some of the things we identified that we could do to provide additional support for the students."

After executive session, the board approved the personnel report with a 7-0 vote. On the report was the resignation of Carol Landis as music teacher at Marion Spring Elementary School and Vinland Elementary School. Patty Lenning also resigned as BHS assistant cheerleading sponsor.

There were several hires, including Matt Kiemic as assistant BHS track coach, Chad Scoby as assistant BJHS track coach and Casey Morford as technology engineer.

The three other hires were BHS custodians. Deana Perdue was hired as head custodian, while Calvin Gaskin and Cheryl Aiello were hired as night custodians.

The school board will next meet at 6 p.m. March 27 at the District Office for a special meeting. The topics at the meeting include district policies, Insight schools and personnel evaluations.

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