The Hiawatha USD 415 School Board met for its regular monthly meeting Monday night and among action items, the board voted to move forward on working with the city to obtain a COPS grant for a School Resource Officer.
Hiawatha Police Chief John Defore came before the School Board to present the specifics of the program and said the grant is currently open and he has to apply by mid-March. Recipients are announced in October and he said an officer could be in place by second semester of the 2020-21 school year.
As part of the grant, the city police department would facilitate the program and the officer would work for the school during the academic year and the police department in the summer. Chief Defore said he would like the officer to work day shift and interact with the students during the summer days.
Chief Defore said he wanted the district to have a hand in interviewing candidates for the position, prior to and following training and certification to become a School Resource Officer.
According to Chief Defore and Superintendent Lonnie Moser — who had worked with a School Resource Officer for 9 years while at Pittsburg schools — the officer would split time between the schools roughly at 20 percent elementary and 40 percent at middle and high school levels, with some time at the Special Ed annex. Of course, the officer would provide an element of security, but also be a role model, mentor and leader for the students. In addition, the officer would implement safety programs ideal for each level.
There is a cost for the district, but the grant provides a portion of the cost until the fourth year — when the hope is the School Resource Officer be sustained by school and city funds.
Chief Defore said the grant is federal and there is $400 million to disperse among the 500 schools who will be named as a recipient.
Superintendent Moser shared that he felt having a SRO would be beneficial to the district and said the feedback from a recent staff survey was also positive about the program.
The Board approved to sign the grant application and move forward on the program, with the understanding that there would be an $18,000 cost for the first three years and around $40,000 on the fourth year. The grant can be reapplied for again following that fourth year.
In other business:
The board recognized high school yearbook instructor and Student Supervisor/Library Aide Kathy Kliewer with a Certificate of Appreciation. She was nominated by a student for going above and beyond for her students.
The School Board voted to move forward on partnering with JAGK — Jobs for America’s GraduatesKansas at a cost of no more than $11,000 a year, with the understanding there could be local grants available through Community Corrections to help defray that annual cost. The would be a 1-year commitment to the program, which provides a staff person to work with kids who could be considered At-Risk and help with a positive graduation rate. In addition, the program stays with the students for a year following graduation, to help students remain successful in the path they chose.
Gov. Laura Kelly expanded the program for this next year, allowing for additional funds toward implementing the program in more schools across Kansas, in order to reach more youth. According to a representative from JAGK at the meeting, this extra funding allowed for the program to be offered to six schools within this judicial district — which includes Marshall, Nemaha, Brown and Doniphan counties. She said if Hiawatha wasn’t interested, she would have approached another school.
There would be some classroom time at the high school and Principal Lori Fordyce said she would make a space for the program.
Discussion continued on the Booster Club’s proposal to hang sound-absorbing banners across the ceiling of the high school gymnasium to help with acoustics. At the January board meeting, board members expressed an interest in pursuing the project, which could total around $30,000, but wanted more information on whether the gym ceiling could withstand the weight.
District Maintenance Coordinator Matt Cluck said he brought in engineers to inspect the ceiling and they gauged the weight of the banners needed, determining it would be acceptable. However, he was still concerned about running into electrical wires that were embedded in the concrete dome of the ceiling and wanted to investigate that matter further. Board members agreed and asked him to look into the matter further and report back. Cluck said he would contact a school in Sedgewick County that had similar work done.
Cluck discussed issues with the new boiler that was installed in the shop area. He said problems arose by installing a 2020 boiler in a 1930s building, so there had been issues keeping it running. He said he had ordered some additional parts and hoped to have the matter resolved soon.
The board approved to spend $16,000 in preliminary dirt work for the elementary school parking lot to prepare for summer chip and seal project.
The School Board approved the calendar for the upcoming school year. Superintendent Moser said a change this year includes three early release days for professional development. He scheduled these close to assessments for discussions on these subjects.
The board voted to purchase finance software to upgrade the current program at a cost of $11,100. Windmeyer said this would be implemented by July 1.
The board voted to appoint John Wright to continue his position on the Special Ed board by filling a vacancy for a 2-year term.
The board approved the Consent Agenda, which included January minutes, financials, treasurer’s report, accept contributions, approval of activity funds, approve an HHS Art Club trip to Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence April 3, approve the virtual Credit Card Annual Limit not to exceed $500 for iPad purchases, approve copier rental and maintenance agreement with Century business Technologies at an annual cost of $17,606. Copiers will be replaced at the HMS office and library, HHS office and business pod and BOE.
As part of the Consent Agenda, the board approved an elementary recess temperature policy change to going outside when windchill factor is at or above 25 degrees.
Following an Executive Session, the board voted the hiring of Hannah Hoffman for HHS Math, Ryan Van Peursem as HHS Asst. Baseball Coach and extended contracts of building administrators and superintendent.