Changing the boundaries was a hot topic at Monday night’s school board meeting
Changing the boundaries deciding who goes to what school in Andover was a hot topic at Monday night’s school board meeting.
“As we look at the next three or five or 10 years, we want to make sure that we are prepared for changes and growth,” said Scott Wilson, Andover School Board president. “We need to understand what is important to the community.”
Last week the district held a public forum to introduce three possible scenarios that were suggested, after months of work, by the boundaries committee. Parents were asked to weigh in on each scenario, either in person at the forum or online.
Keturah Austin, district communications specialist, talked about the responses the district received at the school board meeting:
Scenario A - People felt like it was too much of a short term fix and the district shouldn’t make any secondary changes at this time.
Scenario B - People felt like if this were the choice then the district should do nothing at this time.
Scenario C - About half of the respondents would prefer not to have the secondary change, while others felt this was more of a long-term fix. This scenario relieves crowding at Wheatland Elementary by adding students to Meadowlark Elementary.
Two people spoke against all three scenarios, including a member of the boundaries committee who helped come up with the plans.
“As a new member of the boundaries committee, I hope that you, the board, will find that you don’t need to make changes now,” said Angie Haberichter. “The things that really needed to be looked at were not looked at. We have not done our jobs effectively as a committee.”
Haberichter also talked about students in her neighborhood who had to change schools several times when the new elementary schools were built along with Andover Central High and Andover Central Middle school. She said it is stressful for kids to have to change schools.
“Changing boundaries and moving to a new school is not easy,” said Haberichter. “Emotions play a part in this whether we want them to or not.”
Wilson agreed it is stressful for kids who have made friends and connections with educators in one school to be pulled out and put in another school.
“In 2001 there were a bunch of kids who were Trojans one day and became Jaguars the next day and I am sure that was very hard,” said Wilson. “Right now we are just gathering information to make the best possible decision.”
Another concern that came up during the boundaries discussion was the difference in taxes parents in Butler County paid in comparison to the taxes parents in Sedgwick County paid. Board members cautioned people against believing rumors.
“There is a misconception that Sedgwick County residents don’t pay the same taxes to the school district as Butler County students do and that is not true,” said Dr. Linda Hope, Andover School Board member. “We really all pay the same taxes to the school district. The difference is, in Butler County, we also pay property tax for the Butler County Community College.”
No decision was made at Monday’s school board meeting.
Preliminary Budget for 2014-15
The board also discussed a preliminary budget for next year, which won’t be voted on until at least July. One of the main issues for the board is not knowing exactly what the legislature is planning to do with the funding bill that is awaiting the governor’s signature.
“We went from down $3 million the day before the legislature’s decision to down just $300,000,” said Greg Rasmussen, Andover superintendent. “Once we see the final details from the legislature we will know more where we are going.”
Right now the budget could be one of these two scenarios:
• Total Budget with 31 percent LOB $52,329,591
Net Budget Reduction ($293,078)
Total Estimated mill levy 64.5-65.5 mills
• Total Budget with 33 percent LOB $52,922,612
Net Budget increase $299,942
Total estimated mill levy 65.5-66 mills
*Current 2013-2014 total levy 65.993 mills
The second choice with a 33 percent LOB, would require a mail ballot election and could only be for one year before reverting back to 31 percent.
Summer School Program for at-risk kids
Andover eCademy presented a plan to the school board for a special pilot program summer school for at-risk elementary school kids.
“Research says there is a gap in the summer and we have to bridge that gap,” said Kim Hett, eCademy teacher. “We will do small group instruction twice a week with one teacher to every four to six kids.”
Principals and teachers at each of the elementary schools in Andover will be asked to recommend students, who are in need of extra attention, for the program. ECademy already uses SuccessMaker to teach kids online and will use the same program for the summer school.
“Students will work on SuccessMaker during the last few weeks of school in May and receive an initial placement,” said Hett. “Students will then engage in a six week program focusing on reading and math skills based upon the date gathered by utilizing SuccessMaker.”
Students will attended classes for three hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and use SuccessMaker from home 20 minutes per subject on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
At the end of the summer, the student’s progress will be analyzed to see how successful the program was and if it should be continued and expanded the following summer.
Elementary school report cards changing
In January a survey was sent to parents to provide input, was teachers and administrators worked to improve the new report card. Several recommendations were made by the 252 parents and 98 teachers who responded.
One of the main recommendations was to use a four point grading scale rather than a three point one.
“The three level scale, while it was good, didn’t differentiate enough to show what level the student was at,” said Rita Decker, Sunflower Elementary principal.
With the new grading scale, a four means the student is “advanced,” a three indicates the student is “proficient” at the subject, a two means the student is “developing” and requires assistance, and a one is “emerging,” meaning the student does not yet demonstrate an understanding of the subject.
Teachers would also give plus and minus signs and comments. The new report cards will be shared with parents on April 22.
Electronic Cigarettes to be banned on school property
The school board also discussed changes the middle school and high school student handbooks. One major change is banning electronic cigarettes on all school property, including school-owned vehicles. Tobacco products are already prohibited on school property. This change could be voted on at next month’s meeting.
Lunch and other fees to increase next year
The school board voted to implement the following changes in the District's fee structure for the 2014-2015 school year.
Middle School Fees:
PE uniform change from $18 to $20. The current fee does not cover the cost of the uniform.
High School Fees:
Ceramics, Sculpture, Drawing, Painting, & Studio Art class fees change from $10 to $20. The current fee does not cover the cost of all consumables for the classes.
Elementary School Lunch – from $2.10 to $2.25
High School Lunch – from $3.05 to $3.10
Middle School Lunch – no change recommended current price $3.05
Breakfast – no change recommended – current price $1.50
The District is obligated to follow federal requirements in order to comply with the federal meal reimbursement program. Using the Federal (PLE) Paid Lunch Equity tool, they are required to increase their meal prices next year in order to qualify for federal assistance. The proposed price changes allow the district to meet the minimum federal requirement for next fiscal year.