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January 22nd, 2022

school boardUSD 480 school board members Sarah Thompson, Alan Brown and Stu Cauble listen to a presentation on one of the action items on the board’s agenda Monday evening. Monday’s meeting was Thompson’s first meeting as a new member. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


After electing a new president and vice president, the USD 480 school board tackled some important topics at its first meeting of 2022 Monday evening. 

One of the main discussions that has been going on in school districts lately has been how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and Monday evening, USD 480 Director of Operations Chad Mease shared some information about the work the district is doing with that.

“For the week ending Dec. 10, we had 35 active positives and 117 active quarantines, and for the week ending Jan. 7, we had 124 active positives and 301 active quarantines, so there is definitely a spike since the holidays,” Mease said. “I know everyone’s heard about the limited amount of testing supplies, so that’s something else we’re keeping an eye on – the Seward County Health Department is only doing a certain amount of tests per day, and it will be that way for the near future.”

“Do we have a plan at any particular locations in the district with numbers and what we would want to do differently, like wearing masks or anything like that?” board member Alan Brown asked. “I hope we don’t have to go to all remote learning again, but do we have a plan as far as what numbers would be acceptable? What are we considering with what the numbers are doing?”

“A key factor has definitely been staffing, we need to make sure we have adequate staffing in all the buildings, so we’ve been monitoring that in each building and making sure everyone is comfortable,” Mease said. “We want to do what we can to make sure the students are able to be in school while also keeping safe and healthy.”

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“We’re not really seeing clusters anywhere, it’s pretty evenly spread,” Superintendent Dr. Todd Carter added. “A lot of what we’d plan out would really come down to the number of staff, so we’d probably have some decisions needing to be made on a building-by-building basis. If we notice clusters starting to form, then it would have to be a district-wide decision. And it’s not just COVID-19 we’re dealing with, there’s a lot of strep throat and other illnesses keeping people home, which is what they should be doing so they don’t spread their illness around. There’s a lot of other illnesses going around at this time, the winter’s always pretty rough in that regard.”

Mease also talked about a recent meeting with the Facilities Committee.

“The main things we talked about at that meeting were school zone safety and traffic control,” Mease said. “Throughout that discussion, there were several ideas shared, including exploring the possibility of adding a new entrance on U.S. Hwy 54 north of the north parking lot by Prairie View Elementary School and Seymour Rogers Middle School, and an idea was also shared to develop an estimate to create a parent drop off/pickup lane on the old Lincoln property for Cottonwood Elementary School. We also talked about installing a temporary barricade on Holly Drive that would be put out during pickup and drop off times and eliminate through traffic along Holly Drive during those times for MacArthur Elementary School.  This will force all traffic from the west parking lot to go west and the east parking lot to go east. That particular area is a bit of a mess and I think this would help quite a bit, and there would be some things with that we would have to clear with KDOT.”

Also in the administrator reports was Director of Technology Rusty Tuman.

“The wireless access point upgrade project at Sunflower Elementary School was recently completed, and this project included additional wiring for 24 new access points, rewiring the gyms for proper access point  locations, which we completed over the summer) and switching out the previous 29 access points,” Tuman said. “This completed project brings Sunflower Elementary School up to current USD 480 standards with new wireless access points in every classroom and additional coverage added to gyms and libraries. We’re really happy we were able to get this done and there will probably be more work like this being done in the future.”

In new business, the board approved Resolution A, which schedules the meeting dates for the remainder of the fiscal 21-22 school year. The meeting dates are Jan. 10 and 24, Feb. 7 and 21, March 7 and 21, April 11 and 25, May 9 and 23, and June 6 and 27, with the meeting dates for fiscal 22-23 to be set at the first board meeting date in July. The board also approved Resolution N regarding an appointment to the ESSER III Committee, and the board ultimately approved Kathy Fitzgerald and Brown to the committee, with Mike Brack as an alternate. To conclude the meeting’s new business, the board approved  the audit for fiscal 2020-2021. 


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