Departure follows DUI arrest
USD 398 Board of Education announced the resignation of district superintendent Rex Watson at the board meeting Monday.
Watson was stopped at 11:13 p.m. Friday driving on 600 SE 36th St., near the Chisholm Trail shopping center by U.S. 135 in Newton by Newton Police Department officers. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Watson did not attend any part of the meeting. The board received a written resignation before the meeting.
The board met in three executive sessions with attorney Donna White of the Kansas Association of School Boards to discuss the matter, two consecutive 45-minute periods to start the meeting, with a special session at the beginning of the meeting starting at 6:15 p.m. A 15-minute session concluded the discussion.
Peabody-Burns Elementary School Principal Ken Parry was appointed as interim superintendent. Tuesday night at a special meeting, the board met with Kansas Association of School Boards Executive Director John Heim to discuss the possibility of finding a full-term interim superintendent.
Board president Terry Eberhard would not say whether the arrest and resignation were related, saying only that the decision was a personnel matter.
The board voted against purchasing a printing machine for a student involved in Marc Grout’s project-based learning course.
The machine, for printing on shirts and other pieces of fabric, would have cost the district at least $15,000.
“They’re going to start a business with our money?” board member Tony Zappone said. “Get it the old fashioned way, earn the money and buy the printing machine.”
While the board denied the request for the machine, they were interested in hearing about the progress of Grout’s class. He told them about one student writing a social studies curriculum, students using their high-tech knowledge to teach classes, and a student who is learning how to grow plants in the winter in a greenhouse type apparatus.
The project-based learning class can be both entrepreneurial and creative learning experience, Grout said. The first year Peabody-Burns High School teacher visited schools in Stafford, which used an entrepreneurial approach, and Eerie, which used an open learning approach.
“It gave me new ideas of what project based ideas could be; kids were completely in charge of their learning,” Grout said of the experience at Eerie. “The only way it works is to have everybody on the same page.”
The board also approved for sixth-grade boys to join the Peabody-Burns Junior High School basketball team for the 2011-12 season.
Coach Ray Savage requested the motion be written into the school rulebook that if a basketball or volleyball team has 12 or less players within 10 days of the beginning of the season, sixth graders can play that sport.
Only 11 junior high boys signed up for the team. Savage said he has already set up for seven sixth-grade boys to play with the team.
Eberhard asked if it was possible to just have sixth graders always be eligible. Parry and Savage responded that there were not enough coaches for rosters of 20 or more players.
The rule would only apply to volleyball and basketball; state rules do not allow sixth graders to play football, Savage said.
Instructor Sara Grout illustrated the success of the PBHS and PBJHS multi-tiered system of support programs by opening up a long folder.
Inside, it showed all the students in the seventh grade math MTSS program on the green section of the three-sectioned folder. Students designated by yellow and pink stickers had moved from up levels during the year to meet standards.
Donna Glover said 93 percent of students at Peabody-Burns Elementary School were meeting standards in reading in MTSS.
In other business:
- Board members plan to recognize students who earned standard of excellence on state assessments before the Jan. 9 board meeting.
- A board development program and school finance update were tabled to the December meeting.
The next USD 398 Board of Education meeting will be 7 p.m. Dec. 12.