February 29th, 2024

school board cottonwood studentsStudents from Cottonwood Elementary School show the USD 480 school board members some recent art projects during the meeting's Good Things portion. The students recently completed a unit on the Renaissance period, and they learned much about art and the different artists from that time. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


After a pair of lengthy presentations, the USD 480 school board made rather quick work of the new business on its agenda Monday evening. 

Up first for the board was discussion of discussion of new soccer goals for Eisenhower Middle School and Seymour Rogers Middle School. 

“As said in the agenda packet, we  solicited quotes to purchase four new Kwik Goal soccer goals, two for each middle school, and this is to replace the goals being used on those turf fields. The existing goals weren’t really designed to go on synthetic turf, have sharp edges on the bottom of the goals, which could damage the fields,” Director of Operations Chad Mease said. “We’re proposing to get the same type of goals being used by the high school team, they’re the same size and are actually designed for turf fields and will hold up to the winds. One quote was received from Sports Connection in Wichita in the amount of $16,873.80, and we’re recommending the board accept that quote. We’re still thinking about what we could do with the current goals and brainstorming ideas with that.”

Ultimately, the board approved the quote from Sports Connection in Wichita in the amount of $16,873.80 for the project. 

Up next for the board was discussion of the 2024-25 district calendar. 

“The Calendar Committee was assigned to develop a district calendar with two additional instructional days for consideration by IBB. A 178-day and 180-day calendar are attached for the board to look at,” Superintendent Dr. Todd Carter said. “IBB is recommending the board approve the proposed 178-day calendar so scheduling for next school year can take place. If funds are available when the FY2025 budget and 2024-25 Negotiated Agreement are developed, the board will have the option to adopt a 180-day calendar, which adds one instructional day to each semester.”

Ultimately, the board approved the 178-day calendar for 2024-25, and discussions will take place at a later date about potentially adopting the 180-day calendar.

Also on the board’s agenda was a pair of requests from the Special Education Department, beginning with discussion of a new school psychologist position for the 2024-25 school year. 

“Right now, we currently have enough for five positions, but we have only three of them filled with certified school psychologists,” Director of Special Education Dane Parcel said. “We also have two assessment specialists who are working on their degree, so they’re looking forward to what they can do. Those two are going to be moving into interim positions next year as they work on their practicum, so we’re still going to be short on certified staff in that area. As stated in the agenda packet, the national student-to-school psychologist ratio is recommended at 500:1, and we far exceed that. Nationally, this position has a ratio of 1127:1. Using this recommended ratio, USD 480 is in need of at least one additional school psychologist. This position has been advertised for quite some time because it’s so needed, and due to the shortage of applications from previous postings, a virtual position is being researched to help alleviate numbers and improve our overall student-to-school psychologist ratio. With all of that in mind, we’re recommending the board approve the hiring of a school psychologist position beginning the 2024-25 school year. We’ve been short in this department for quite some time, and adding that position would get us to a ratio that’s much more manageable.”

“Are there any other positions that are being done remotely?” Board President Alan Brown asked. 

“We currently have a remote speech pathologist, and we do that through Luma,” Parcel said. “The pathologist we have right now is wonderful and she works very well with our middle school students and communicates really well with me and everyone else involved. We do have a couple other pathologists who are also remote, but they’re our employees, whereas the lady I just mentioned is contracted through another company. And to clarify, I’m not actually asking the board to approve anyone’s hiring, this is to ask for the approval of the position itself, and we’ll bring any future action to the board.”

After some more brief discussion, the board ultimately approved the additional school psychologist position to begin for the 2024-2025 school year. The Special Education’s second request was for a new para psychologist position. 

“An increase in School Psychologists from three to five – even possibly six – next year will strain our current team of two para psychologists,” Parcel said. “To address this, we’re recommending hiring an additional para psychologist. We’d prefer to start the hiring process now so we can help facilitate a smooth transition into the role and allow for necessary shadowing and training. This will be crucial in assisting with the transition of assessment specialists to school psychologists and meeting the demand for the requested virtual position.”

After some brief discussion, the board ultimately approved the additional para psychologist position. 

To conclude the meeting’s new business the board approved the adoption and purchase of 6th-12th grade math textbooks in the amount of $396,414.48 and also approved the changes to the graduation requirements that will begin with the Class of 2028.