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Change will provide more USD 410 students scholarships

Staff writer

An action at the USD 410 Durham-Hillsboro-Lehigh Board of Education meeting Monday to transfer a scholarship endowment to Hillsboro Community Foundation will result in more scholarship awards, and will bring an additional $50,000 to the foundation for charitable causes.

The $200,000 John A. and Harriet Kizler Wiebe Good Citizenship Scholarship, established by the Wiebes to honor the Hillsboro High School class of 1941, has provided scholarships for HHS seniors from the interest earned on certificates of deposit at Hillsboro State Bank and Emprise Bank.

As interest rates have declined, so too have the scholarships.

“The earnings have been such that the awards for kids have steadily decreased, because you can only provide kids with the earnings off of the gift,” Superintendent Steve Noble said. “The goal of moving this to the foundation is very simple — to increase the amount of scholarships available to kids.”

The transfer of funds from the banks to the new John A. and Harriet Kizler Wiebe Fund for Hillsboro High School at HCF will increase the interest rate from .04 percent to 5 percent, and will save the district approximately $1,000 in administrative costs, Noble said.

Transferring the $200,000 to HCF qualifies the foundation to receive up to a 25 percent match of the funds from the Grow II Fund of the Kansas Health Foundation. The $50,000 can be used by the foundation for betterment of the community, Noble said.

The district will continue its current Wiebe scholarship application process, so the only change students will see is the availability of more scholarship funds, Noble said.

“I believe it keeps intact the core purpose of what the Wiebes intended,” Noble said.

District Business Manager Jerry Hinerman reported the mill levy for property taxes has turned out to be less than what the board approved for the current year.

“When you approved the budget back in August, you approved 2.5 mills. We came out about eight-tenths of a mill less than we projected,” Hinerman said.

Hinerman attributed the difference primarily to an unanticipated increased in assessed property value.

“Assessed value increased more than we expected,” Hinerman said. “Last year to this year, we’re up about a million dollars in assessed valuation.”

Noble pointed out increased property valuation impacts state funding to the district.

“You become a richer district for state funding, so we get a little less equalization money,” Noble said.

The board approved hiring Terach Antoine as a Hillsboro Middle School wrestling assistant coach and Kady Albrecht as a Paths to Adventure after school assistant. Noble took the opportunity to describe a new pre-employment practice implemented to provide additional security for district students.

“We’re doing background checks now with all non-certified positions,” Noble said, explaining that only certified personnel had been subject to background checks before the change. Noble said the change is responsive to periodic reports of violations in other districts, and designed to decrease the chance of such things happening in USD 410.

In other business:

  • The board approved an exception to its out-of-state travel moratorium to allow HHS robotics students to attend a VEX Robotics competition Jan. 28 in Ponca City, Okla. Noble said the exception was warranted because the competition is an integral extension of the robotics curriculum, rather than an extracurricular activity, and supports the district’s move toward increased career and technical education opportunities for students.
  • The board approved a 2012 summer trip to Washington, D.C., for four members and two sponsors of GAP, a club for girls that provides members with opportunities for travel and experiences they would otherwise not have. The trip will be funded by a donation from an anonymous McPherson donor who had provided ongoing support for GAP.
  • The board approved the sale of surplus equipment from the old interactive distance learning classroom to the Altoona-Midway school district for $1,000.
  • Noble and HHS Principal Max Heinrichs reported on the status of career and technical education initiatives. HHS is one of only two high schools in Kansas with 14 career education pathways approved by the Kansas Department of Education, and Heinrichs indicated work is ongoing for additional articulation agreements with colleges that would increase the number of available pathways.
  • Noble reported Hillsboro High School is ranked 113th out of 301 schools on U.S. News and World Report’s “most connected classrooms” technology list.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 9.

Last modified Dec. 14, 2011

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