• Last modified 2679 days ago (Nov. 16, 2011)


School board sets early childhood as focus for foundation

Staff writer

USD 410 Board of Education decided Monday that its involvement with the Hillsboro Community Foundation should focus on expanding early childhood education programs.

In particular, the board hopes to expand offerings of Parents as Teachers, preschool, and full-day kindergarten. The district is currently unable to fill all of the demand for those services. Board president Eddie Weber said there are approximately 20 families in the district on a waiting list for Parents as Teachers home visits.

Weber proposed working on a grassroots fundraising campaign for the fund, focusing on USD 410 alumni, with the idea that a lot of people donating a little bit can raise just as much money as a few people donating a lot. Board members agreed that an alumni campaign could work best. They plan to kick off the campaign in the spring.

The real benefits of foundation fundraising will appear down the road rather than immediately, Weber said.

The board also voted to establish a general USD 410 Education Fund within the foundation, in case people wish to donate to other causes.

Positive signs in enrollment

Superintendent Steve Noble presented his State of the District Report. Noble noted a good sign in enrollment: while enrollment this year is the same as the previous school year, a higher percentage of that enrollment is actually in the school rather than at the Marion County Learning Center.

That helps the district’s financial picture, because the district will keep more state aid rather than forwarding it to the learning center, Noble said.

The percentage of students receiving free meals is up significantly compared to just a few years ago, and the number of students living more than 2.5 miles from school is declining.

The number of teachers working for the district is the lowest it has been since before 1993, and student/teacher ratios climbed sharply this year.

The district has exceeded Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks every year for elementary and middle school reading and math and high school math. High school reading has exceeded the standard every year except one, when it equaled the state benchmarks. Focus in the following year resulted in a marked improvement to exceed the standard.

In other business:

  • The board approved Expanding Technology Excellence in Education Network’s goals to partner with non-member school districts, reduce reliance on textbooks, and improve opportunities for learning regardless of time or location.
  • Donna Fadenrecht of Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk, & Loyd presented the district audit report. She said the district did a good job in a difficult year. Accounting backup procedures were improved this year, taking it off that deficiency list, she said.
  • The district will donate up to 30 old surplus desks to Cottonwood Grove Christian School of rural Durham.
  • Valerie Duerksen resigned as cheerleading sponsor and Jamie Norris resigned as Parents as Teachers parent educator.
  • Contracts were approved for Marilyn Ratzlaff, second-grade teachers’ aide; Patty Putter, Parents as Teachers parent educator, Jordan Allen, assistant middle school girls basketball coach; and Jill Hein, cheerleading sponsor.
  • Families and Communities Together Director Linda Ogden told the board that she hopes to reduce the organization’s dependence on grants for its operations before she retires in 2012. Approximately 80 percent of the organization’s $200,000 budget comes from grants. She cited USD 410 teachers’ voluntary commitment of $3,000 of their own money via automatic payroll deductions as an example of how local support can be improved.
  • Board member Joe Sechrist was appointed the board’s voting delegate to the Kansas Association of School Boards state assembly Dec. 3 in Overland Park.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be 7 p.m. Dec. 12.

Last modified Nov. 16, 2011