Highlights from this week's meeting

The annual reorganization of the Augusta USD 402 Board of Education took place at Monday night’s regular monthly meeting.
Bob McCalla was elected president and Doug Berryman, vice president.  All other appointments and committees were approved, along with the established times and dates of regular meetings and special meetings.   
Assistant Superintendent Holly Francis presented the curriculum report and advised that there will be two new teachers at Augusta High School, four new teachers at Augusta Middle School, and 10 new positions in the elementary schools.
Francis also advised that all the new teachers hired so far have no years of experience.
The new teachers breakfast and orientation will be on Monday, Aug. 6.
New school bus
Superintendent John Black reminded BOE members that each year the district strives to upgrade the school bus fleet.  He presented a recommendation to purchase a bus for use on the Andover special education route.
He explained that there will be two wheelchair routes for the upcoming school year.  One route will be to Andover schools and will have  11 students, a driver and an aide.  One of the students will be transported in a wheelchair. The other special education routes will have three wheelchair students in this group of riders.  Two of the wheelchair students need air conditioning due to physical disabilities.
The district fleet includes three wheelchair buses.
Bus #8, a 1997 Bluebird with 117,506 miles and is not equipped with air conditioning.  Installation of air conditioning would cost approximately $10,000.  It would not be cost effective to install a/c in this bus.
Bus #41, a 2004 USA with 115,706 miles.  It is not equipped with air conditioning and has numerous engine malfunctions in the past.  It won’t likely stand up  to the rigors of three round trips to Andover each day.
Bus #63, a 2010 IC with 76,788 miles. There are two configurations that would seat all the students on the Andover special education route or all the students on the Augusta special education route.  This bus has a/c and is the only bus that will meet the needs of the Andover route or the Augusta route.
“Will this be the only bus we’re buying this year?” asked BOE member Carey Lee.
Dr. Black advised that it would be the only transportation purchase request for the year.
The Board members approved the purchase of a 2017 Collins school bus from Master’s Transportation with two wheelchair spaces and seating for 12 students.  The cost of this bus is $60,500 and will be used on the Andover special education route.
Laptop insurance fee dropped
Approximately 12 years the district has charged a $25 insurance fee to employees, which went to a self-funded insurance pool that was used to pay for the repair of laptops and iPads used by employees and damaged by accident.
Dr. Black explained that the most recent trend for employees was to opt out of taking the insurance.  The pool has grown to approximately $38,000.
“When I checked this spring I learned that most area districts don’t charge a user insurance to their employees...In April, AEA asked to have the insurance fee dropped and Matt Ward suggested a “deductible fee” of $25 for each occurrence resulting in a repair,” Black stated.
When a device is damaged, the employee will be responsible for paying a $25 deductible for its repair.
Board members approved a 2018-2019 Laptop/iPad acceptance and user agreement form.
School funding update
Dr. Black shared the latest from Topeka and school finance.
The Supreme Court concluded that school finance remains inadequate and has given the Legislature an extention of time and a “road map” to remedy the problems.
The Court will allow the school finance act to move forward for the upcoming school year.  No additional amount of funding is required for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which began July 1st. Schools will open as scheduled and there will be no need to call a special legislative session.
The Court has given the Legislature until April 15, 2019 to again provide a remedy to bring the school finance system into constitutional compliance.  Oral arguments will be held at 9 a.m. on May 9, 2019.  
“It really doesn’t affect us at this date.  We still don’t have the budget software from the State...We usually by mid July we hold the special BOE meeting to approve publishing the budget...Be prepared for several special meetings in August,” Black said.
 The next regular BOE meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 13.