The USD 490 Board of Education approved two resolutions Thursday morning

The USD 490 Board of Education approved two resolutions Thursday morning to make its voice heard on legislative issues currently in Topeka.

The first was about all-day kindergarten.

Superintendent Sue Givens said she spoke to the the Southcentral Delegation about the issue of funding that program on Wednesday.

When looking at the impact of all-day kindergarten, versus half day, Givens said the average third grade math scores are up a few percent and the gap with low income is less. The first groups of all-day kindergarten students are now in fourth, fifth and sixth grades.

“In reading, our data is incredible,” Givens said. “The group with half day averaged 88 to 89 percent proficiency. Those in all-day had 92 to 93 percent proficiency and kids of poverty were at 91 percent, higher than all of the students in half day. The gap from poverty to students of wealth is 1.9 percent. That’s just state reading and math.”

The board approved a resolution in support of all-day kindergarten.

The second issue dealt with elections.

Norm Wilks, director of fiscal services, said they are proposing to move the election cycle to November rather than keep it in the spring.

“It dilutes the attention that the school board, city, and county elections receive when mixed in with other elections,” Wilks said.

It also doesn’t comply with their fiscal year.

BOE President Cathy Cooper asked why the legislature was pursuing this.

Originally it was because if a board loses a member mid-cycle, whatever their political affiliation, that committee would appoint the new member, but that was recently changed saying representatives from both political parties would make the determination.

“My question is who has a better feel of who knows about education and would be a better fit on the school board?” asked BOE Member Bernie Spradling. “I don’t like seeing it go to a decision of someone outside the group. I could see it becoming a political issue.”

She also was concerned with the large learning curve for anyone new to the school board.

“If you hit the middle of a school year you’re just acting on what everyone else decided before you,” she said.

She said by starting in July board members help prepare the budget and have more buy-in, as well as starting at the beginning of the school year.

“The learning curve is such if it ended up happening I don’t think it’s the end of the world,” Cooper said. “The new board members would just be like deer in the headlights like you are anyway. I agree it doesn’t really sound like it would improve things in any way for the school boards.”

Givens said a concern from superintendents was new board members who would want to reevaluate them mid-year.

Spradling encouraged them them to contact their legislators because they were saying they had not heard from school board members.

In addition, the BOE approved a resolution opposing those changes to the local election cycle, which will be sent to the legislators.

Both resolutions were approved 5-0, with BOE Members Tom Storrer and Deb Wheeler absent.

In other business, the board:

• approved casting a ballot for John Purvis from Rose Hill to be the Congressional District 4 KSHSAA Appeal Board member.

• approved the final board policy. They have been reviewing a section of the updated policy at every meeting for several months and that is now complete.

• approved personnel and BCSEC recommendations.

Julie Clements can be reached at