UDS 480 Superintendent Stephen Linkous gives his first official Superintendent Report to the USD 480 school board at its most recent meeting Monday evening. Overall, Linkous said, it has been a great and smooth start for him in his new role. L&T photo/Elly Grimm


    • Leader & Times


The USD 480 school board made rather quick work of its agenda at its most recent meeting Monday evening.

Before the meeting’s new business came the administrator reports, and new Superintendent Stephen Linkous officially gave his first report.

“Just to start, I’m very blessed and grateful to be here, and I’m very excited to have gotten Week 1 down and everything that happened there,” Linkous said. “I had my first work session with the school board this past Saturday, and it was a great time just talking with everyone and learning everything I could as we go forward. Being new in town, I really want to just thank everyone, because everyone I’ve met in town has been absolutely lovely and welcoming. My family and I did officially find and buy a house, so I can now say I officially live in Liberal, which is great. On a professional front, I’ve had multiple meeting opportunities with people in the community, including the mayor, the Liberal Fire Department chief, the Liberal Police Department chief, the Seward County Community College president, Sen. Jerry Moran at a recent town hall, and the LNEA president, among many, many others. Moving forward, I want to help the district build as many relationships as possible in and out of the community so we can do what’s best for our students and have the best position possible. I’ve also done interviews with KSCB-The Legend radio station, La Mexicana radio station and the Leader & Times newspaper to get the word out about who I am and what I see the district doing this coming school year and beyond. And within my first few days here, I also got to accept a $10,000 donation from Equity Bank to the USD 480 Foundation. I’m really excited to be part of USD 480, and I can assure everyone my future reports will not be focused on me, they will be focused on the work our staff and faculty are doing in the buildings as well as the academic achievements by the students. They will truly be the stars of the show, and it’s the job of my team and I to make sure they’re being highlighted. Right now, since it’s the summer, there’s not a ton of extra work being done, but once the school year starts, that’ll ramp up.”

After Linkous’ report, Director of Operations Chad Mease shared a brief update on some of the construction projects going on, saying the work was going according to plan and on schedule, even with some recent inclement weather.

The meeting also saw the board appoint Brandie Winter and Nila Newton as the USD 480 Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer, Rusty Tuman and Maria Martinez as the USD 480 Clerk and Assistant Clerk, Lane Frymire as the USD 480 Board Attorney, and Hay, Rice & Associates as the USD 480 Auditor. All positions will be for the 2024-25 school year.

To begin the new business, the board approved Resolutions A through U, which concern setting the logistics for the Board of Education meetings for the 2024-25 school year, designating the 2024-25 school term, adopting the USD 480 organizational chart for the 2024-25 school year, and appointing Board representatives to committees and councils, among many other matters.

Up next for the board was discussion of renewing the district’s emergency management software.

“USD 480 uses Navigate360 for our emergency management and behavioral threat assessment software,” Mease said. “The renewal for us using this for the 2024-25 school year is $13,368.56, which is $514.16 more than last year.”

After some quick discussion, the board ultimately approved the software renewal.

After that discussion, the board also approved a motion to grant USD 480 administration the authority to approve change orders relating to the Liberal High School library renovation and Maskus Auditorium rainscreen projects up to $20,000 per change order.

After approving that matter, the board also took on the first reading of the Facility Dog Policy Handbook.

“I know Lana [Evans] had originally worked on this, it was something she’d worked on before she left,” Mease said. “And this will come back to the board, so if there are any questions, fire away.”

“My only question would be, could we have something put in this as far as a cap?” Board President Alan Brown asked. “Whether it’s per building or per ‘X’ amount of students, could we consider putting some kind of cap in this particular policy? That was a concern that had been brought to me, so I thought to bring it to the board.”

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