By RACHEL COLEMAN
• Leader & Times
Snow days, parent teacher conferences and a teacher work day have punctuated the usual flow of public school in Liberal, but the USD 480 board of education will plan to meet at 6:30 p.m. today for its regular meeting.
Tonight’s agenda includes a round-up of routine items, though some are heavier than usual. Staff travel requests comprise a list of more than 30 items, with faculty, staff and administrators slated to attend a variety of out-of-town training and recruiting events.
These range from an AVID summer institute in Dallas, where nearly 40 attendees from Liberal will brush up on how to engage students in college-preparation-level learning, to in-state training sessions in Garden City, Hutchinson and Dodge City.
On the USD 480 website, the board agenda includes approval forms that outline each trip’s purpose, cost, location, number of participants and other details, such as whether the trip is funded by special grant money.
A few of the travel requests simply document in-town teacher absences from their usual buildings, such as a request for science teachers to work at the Seward County Activity Center for the district-wide science and engineering fair, rather than being at their usual buildings in the classroom.
With the next academic year in sight, administrators will begin recruiting trips to find new teachers for the district. These trips, typically conducted in early spring to catch prospective college graduates at job fairs conducted by universities, allow the district to hire the most promising new teachers, administrators have told the board.
Traveling to Topeka and Pittsburg will be the principals of Garfield Elementary, Kendra Haskell, and Cottonwood Intermediate, Donna Sill; to Emporia and Salina to recruit from Bethany, Bethel, Kansas Wesleyan, McPherson, Sterling and Tabor Colleges, will be special education director Vicki Adams and McDermott Elementary principal Kathy Fitzgerald; to the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, South Middle School principal Gib Rito and Liberal High School assistant principal Rafe Begley; and to Michigan to recruit from Grand Valley State, Michigan Statue, Central Michigan University, Western Michigan, Ferris State, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Cornerstone University and Hope Colleges, Sunflower Intermediate principal Jennifer Workman and LHS assistant principal Ashley Kappelman.
Michigan, hard hit with high unemployment rates, has proven to be fertile recruiting ground for USD 480 in recent years, with several new teachers moving to Liberal and staying to win state and local recognition for their performance in the classroom.
In other items, the board will take a look at a new reading program sponsored by the state of Kansas. Lexia 5, developed as a pilot program by the state of Kansas and offered free for two years to districts that opt to participate, aims to help schools across the state. It purports to be “a cost effective program and learning tool,” with “research-proven methodology” that could save teachers up to a month of instructional time as they prepare students for year-end assessments used by the State of Kansas.
“We presented this information to the K-6 buildings for their review,” director of curriculum Lana Evans noted in her report. “Each building will determine if they choose to participate in this pilot.”
As is standard in its meetings in preparation for the April 8 bond issue, the board has listed “Future Facilities Needs” as an agenda item, though no details have been planned for the discussion.
Tonight’s meeting at the Education Service Center, 624 N. Grant, is open to the public. The agenda and attached reports may be viewed at www.usd480.net.