By VICTORIA CALDERON
• Leader & Times
The USD No. 480 Board of Education met Monday night to discuss many items of new business, the primary item being the schematic design of the new elementary and middle schools. Tomorrow’s Leader & Times will carry the details of the design discussions.
Once the board moved past schematic design on the agenda, they looked at approving the revisions made to the DLR Contract. The contract revision accounted for changes in compensation fees paid to the DLR Group for the new schools and the repurposed schools. The DLR Group bases their fees off a percentage of the total construction costs.
“The original was all buildings at 6 percent, and reconstruction and repurposing at 8 percent,” Superintendent Paul Larkin said. “But since we are working with a prototype, DLR lowered those fees down to 5.5 percent for the Pine Street Elementary and Middle (School), and 5 percent on the others.”
The fees for the schools that will be repurposed has fallen to 7 percent for Cottonwood and Sunflower Intermediate Schools, which are to become elementary schools, and 7.599127616 percent for the high school.
The amendment to the contract passed 7 to 0.
Another important decision the board made last night was in regard to encumbering of funds.
“During the process of closing the fiscal year, USD 480 has approximately $160,000 in bilingual funds to encumber,” Board President Delvin Kinser read from the agenda. “The plan will be to work with the technology committee to determine what products are needed for student use to improve the learning process. $70,000 will need to be encumbered from the local option budget for updating the online PLE curriculum for the high school, middle schools, alternative, and FOCUS schools.”
Overall, the board needed to approve the encumbering of $230,000 from bilingual funds to technology funds for the upcoming school year.
Even though the funds will be used for new electronic devices to aid with student learning, the specific type of devices to be bought were not yet determined, and that was an issue initially.
Larkin explained that, “the intent of this was to be completely transparent with the board. We do intend to buy some type of electronic device for student use through bilingual funds out of encumbered money from this year’s budget. We are letting (the board) know that up front instead of waiting until the purchase to say we’re buying it from encumbered funds.”
Once the technology committee decides what type of devices to purchase, they will bring that information to the board to approve.
“In this case, the technology committee will be working on it behind the scenes and then bring it to the board as a recommendation,” board member Matt Friederich explained.
“You’re actually not required to approve the encumbrance,” Larkin added. “We can encumber funds, move them over, because we didn’t spend them. We wanted to be transparent as to what our intentions are. But you would, no matter what, have to approve a purchase.”
The board approved the encumbered funds 7 to 0.
The board wrapped up the public portion of the meeting with board comments.
“I want to give a shout out to summer school, all the people involved, and the coaches involved with our kids this summer,” board member Nick Hatcher said. “It’s good to know that the community has somewhere for our kids to go and do something productive. USD 480’s coaching staff needs to be commended for putting in the time and effort to make that happen, because it can only make our district better.”
Board Vice President Chris Jewell added on to the praise, saying, “Hats off to our entire staff. We’ve got a lot of good people who do a lot of work over the summer, including all the people who are off to AVID training and trying to better our community and our district. And the custodial people and maintenance people, who are out there mowing and painting and cleaning and everything else to get ready.”
Kinser concluded the board comments by giving them good news. “I got a call today from a school board member in Beaver Falls, Ohio, wanting to know about the Liberal learning jet,” he said. “They are interested in doing in Beaver Falls, Ohio, what we have already done in Liberal. And that was a team effort.”