Assistant Superintendent of Schools Renae Hickert works with a student to solve the math problem that asks “how many chairs?” Courtesy photo/Cathy Martin
By RACHEL COLEMAN
• Leader & Times
The USD 480 board of education meeting Monday night began with music and dancing as third-graders from McKinley Elementary School presented a demonstration of teaching methods used to engage students in the classroom.
“I want to begin with a quote from Mark Twain,” instructional coach Mary Larkin told the board. “If teaching were the same as telling, we’d be so smart we could hardly stand it.”
To the strains of the song, “Let’s Get Together, Yeah-Yeah-Yeah,” board members, students and administrators shuffled and danced before collaborating in pairs to solve math problems.
“Help your partner if their answer is different,” encouraged teacher Claire Martin. “I love the encouragement I’m hearing.”
“Did I do OK?” board member Chris Jewell asked his student partner. “Good grief. Did I overlabel my answer?”
A five-minute meet-and-greet period followed the presentation so that board members could talk with students and families.
As a second part of the “Good Things” portion of the meeting, West Middle School math teacher Daniel Minde presented his new “flipped classroom” approach. Board members responded warmly to Minde’s materials and spent nearly half an hour asking questions about the “flipped classroom” method.
In its regular business, the board quickly moved through its long list of agenda items, voting unanimously to approve many of them. These 6-0 approvals (board member Crystal Clemens was absent) included:
— The consent agenda, which included information from Director of Auxiliary Services Robert Burkey about upcoming service bids for weed removal, extermination and gym floor refinishing.
— Purchase of a temporary, three-month insurance policy for liability insurance in order to get that policy and coverage for workman’s compensation insurance on the same annual renewal schedule. Finance Director Jerry Clay said he hopes the combination will result in more bids and perhaps a reduction in rates.
— Scheduling of a “Capturing Kids Hearts” summer training session for new teachers as well as those who have not previously participated in the program. The training will take place July 29-31. The speakers’ fee of $24,800 will be paid with a gift to the district.
— Agreed to begin a lesson development program for social science and science classes taught in grades 7 to 12. The $33,000 fee paid to West-Ed Consultants will be covered by special Title 2A funds.
— Revision to board policy about student travel. The board asked attorney Rick Yoxall to revise the policy in order to allow travel for students K-12, provided proper procedures are followed.
— Gave a thumbs-up to the upcoming trip to Wichita for the student leadership group at South Middle School.
— Approval for all staff travel as presented. Helm asked why Human Resources Director Jason McAfee was not slated for more of the recruiting trips. Larkin said McAfee had taken on “the big haul in Michigan,” with an entire week of visits to colleges.
— Agreed to hire Kansas Gym Floors to recoat the gymnasiums in the district.
Split votes occurred on two issues:
— Ongoing consultant visits and professional development programs for the 2014-15 school year. The item passed 5-1 with Steve Helm against it.
— Revisions to the current-year budget, in order to fund English as a Second Language (ESL) program expenses and special education fees. The item passed 5-1 with Tammy Sutherland-Abbott voting “no.”
— Purchase of a new mower, from local vendor Trailers & Trails, for $12,900, with a 5-1 vote. In her objection to the item, Sutherland-Abbott expressed concern that auxiliary services has already exceeded its budget for the year.
“We were already $15,000 overdrawn,” the last time she’d seen a budget report, Sutherland-Abbott said. “Do we really have money allocated for this?”
“This would not be on the agenda if I did not have the money for it,” Clay replied.
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