BOE Approves Admin Contracts

Following a 15-minute executive session, Hays USD 489 board members approved one-year contract extensions for the four district-level administrators during their meeting Monday night.

The vote was 5-1-1. Board member Allen Parks voted no, while new  board member Derek Yarmer abstained. Both men wanted more time to review the administrators' evaluations. 

"The process is too fast," said Parks. "We spend months working with the teachers' contracts, and we get 15 minutes to discuss this. ... We haven't been able to look at the whole evaluation."

"You're asking me to vote on something I know nothing about," Yarmer said.

"What we're doing here today is letting them know that we will be looking at their contracts in the future, and we're recommending that their contract be extended because we do want to keep this staff here," staff," said Ken Brooks, board chairman.

Another new board member, Jayme Goetz, who voted yes, said "You will be hard pressed to find anyone who care more about 'every student every day' than these four people right here." Her remark brought a round of applause and loud cheers from the audience that included a number of teachers. 

Contracts were extended for Superintendent Ron Wilson, Assistant Superintendent/Director of Curriculum Shanna Dinkel, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Chris Hipp, and Director of Special Education Kyle Carlin.

The vote announcement was followed by more cheers and applause from the large audience. 

This was the inaugural meeting for three school board members elected in November — Goetz, Ruth Ruder, and Yarmer. 

In discussion items, Hipp presented a proposal for a new health insurance plan that ultimately would allow the school district to hire more classified staff to work more hours per day and become full-time employees, without costing more money.

"This will really help with recruitment and retention of staff," said Kyle Carlin, director of special education. A large number of paras and aides work in special education classrooms. 

More detailed information will be presented at a future meeting. 

Wilson presented several recommended policy updates from the Kansas Association of School Boards which include language on evacuations and emergencies modified to give district staff more autonomy to determine when it is safe to dismiss school or release students in emergent situations.

Another update addresses detailed policy language on unpaid meal charges. Wilson said Hays schools seldom have unpaid meal accounts and noted a recent $17,000 anonymous donation for school pantries. 

Wilson also shared information from Gov. Laura Kelly's state of the state address and how her proposed budget may affect funding for Hays USD 489.

"Probably as important as anything, she's recommending that they fully fund for the base projection of about $5,300 per student, which is an increase. 

"And, also, this is huge, she's recommending that special ed five-year phase-in of about $75 million [annually]. We're hopeful. We need it. It's crucial.

"You will have big decisions if we don't get some help in special ed." 

Board members also heard an update of the USD 489 Foundation annual auction from Chrisy Crough, which raised $51,000 and the recognition of the WeKan Crew at the Kansas Association of School Boards first District Showcase in November. Only 20 districts in the state were selected to highlight outstanding programs in their district.

Jarrod Kuckelman, management analyst for the city of Hays, made a presentation about a proposal to expand the existing Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. The program offers a property tax rebate to people making improvements to their properties within a specified district. USD 489 is one of the taxing entities that contributes to the rebate and would have to approve the proposal in the future.