The USD 273 Board of Education met on Monday evening in Beloit. The board presented former board member Greg Shamburg with a plaque in recognition of his 12 years of service to the district as a school board member.
An audit report for 2016-17 was delivered to the board as compiled by Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk and Loyd. Mr. Loyd suggested some changes to journal entries as well as credit card procedure. He recommended signed agreements be on file for all purchase card holders recognizing the proper procedure for district credit card use. Also suggested was that any school activity funds be approved by the board.
The district had no cash violations for the year according to Loyd. The total of outstanding debt for the district was not reported, but it was stated that the current debt should be paid off in 2026. Mr. Loyd said $1,005,000 in federal funds were utilized by the district in the reported year. The board later approved the audit report in action items.
Sydney Johnson delivered the Student Council report. The food drive met its goal and in doing so, students earned a half day off of school on December 21. She said the school food drive is the most productive intake for the food pantry for the year. A student council Christmas party was held this past Sunday. They will be delivering the Angel Tree gifts and food boxes along with St. John’s students later this month. STUCO is also volunteering for meals on wheels in Beloit this week. They will also be hosting a charity event in February to benefit the Breast Friends Foundation.
Amanda Schwerman delivered the Site Council report. At their last meeting they had the by-laws and goals committees working to narrow down needs over the next few weeks. The parent involvement committee is working on questions for parent surveys for the February parent/teacher conferences. The Beloit Ministerial Association was recognized as the Friends of BES organization for November.
PTO President Katie Schroeder said the drive to fulfill wishes for teachers and classrooms hosted by Gray Drug and Fountain was a success. PTO typically provides for the wishes that remain unfilled, but the community met all the wish requests. She thanked the community for their generosity. Bingo night will be held January 18. She also said the current Box-top competition will conclude at the end of January. The winning class will make green slime and douse Mr. Dean. Schroeder also said PTO movie day at Solomon Valley Cinema will be held on December 20.
Superintendent Jeff Travis reported that he attended the Kansas Association of School Boards convention last week. Board members Shara Odle and Joe File attended as well and were impressed with the event. Odle said specifically that she was glad to be representing Beloit when she came to see how some things operate in other districts.
Travis also discussed HoloLens devices and made a hands-on presentation. A few sets of the virtual reality goggles were on hand for demonstration. The array of interactive programs which can be accessed with the HoloLens are all but limitless in their applications for education and recreation. Each unit costs about $3,000.
Special Education Cooperative Director Karen Niemczyk reported on a community approach to meeting the needs of students in crisis with a Traditional Crisis Center approach. She said differing kinds of trauma including physical, mental and emotional hamper development and success rates for students who experience these types of events.
The approach rests on the ideal that there are no bad kids, but kids who are a product of bad environments, training, a lack of positive examples or role models as well as negative thinking. The Alternative Learning Center is designed to meet the needs of students who are struggling with these types of scenarios and or traumas. The ALC can accommodate 15 students and is currently full.
Niemczyk suggested that the ALC needs to be expanded to meet the needs of additional students. She also suggested the creation of a residential facility transitional crisis center for the community to place and house students who need an alternative to their home environment.
Brady Dean delivered the elementary school report. Beloit Elementary now has facebook and twitter pages that people can follow at BES273. He said Mr. Adams has started a new unit with the students as they have begun to learn to code using the common computer language known as Python. They plan to also introduce students to HTML coding in the future. The elementary will also have four teams of three members each for the upcoming Robotics competition in Hays.
Dean also discussed Project Based Learning for students which utilizes real-world, hands-on examples of education. Each grade level will have a different focus. He added that the Sixth-Grade music program will be on December 14.
Dean then reported as Executive Director of the Mitchell County Partnership for Children. They are currently working to raise funds to meet their required grant fund match for the year. He said they are off to a good start, but they have needs remaining to be met. Currently, they have raised $11,000 of the $36,000 required to meet their full funding match requirement.
He said they are on track to award over $14,000 in child care assistance to families in need. This amounts to $6,000 more than was budgeted for. They are counting on donations to help fund this projected shortage. For more information and to learn how to donate, call the MCPC at 738-3055.
Dean said attendance is growing at Family Learn and Play nights. They feed the attendees at the events, and then they do activities to teach and train specific skills in a fun and interactive environment. The next event will be held on January 17 beginning at 6 p.m.
The Early Learning Center currently has two openings in the After-School Program. There are two openings for 2-3 year olds, and one opening for 1-2 year olds. ELC Paint Night will take place at Kettle in Beloit on January 10. This is a fundraising event for the center.
Also announced during the meeting was discussion taking place and consideration being given to have a greenhouse utilizing hydroponics at the high school for FFA.
Junior/Senior High School Principal Casey Seyfert said an in-service day was held on December 5 to work on concepts of the Gemini program in coordination with other districts throughout the state. The high school has also completed their Character Education application. He said it is a great chance to review what they are doing and what can be improved upon. Out of the application process they have added several programs which the school now offers. Some of the programs include Pride Time character education, parent informational nights, Power of Pride mentoring, and a Student Advisory Team to find and address issues brought forth by the student body.
Athletic Director Kyle Beisner gave an update on sports and upcoming schedules. He also showed examples of new football uniforms. The current ones are five years old and are showing wear and tear. He wants to get uniform purchases on a rotating schedule from year to year so that multiple sports don’t need uniforms replaced at the same time.
The district Christmas party will be held on December 21 in the commons are a BHS. The History Club will serve the meal at the event. The History Club is also preparing to travel to Washington D.C. in the spring. There are 34 students signed up for the trip and more are interested.
In action items, the board approved a memorandum of understanding for the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Program. This is a jobs-to-work transition program focused on helping at-risk youth graduate from high school and either find employment or continue their education.
The next meeting of the USD 273 Board of Education is scheduled for Monday, January 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the district office in Beloit.