Public gatherings planned nightly through Thursday
By RACHEL COLEMAN
• Leader & Times
The USD 480 Board of Education will host a regular meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m., but it is clear the big events in the district will take place elsewhere throughout the coming week. Those include four community meetings, the first of which is set for 7 p.m. tonight at the Seward County Activity Center, to finalize details from the voting public about what direction the district’s facility planning should take. More meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday (at the depot), 6 p.m. Wednesday (at the VFW) and noon Thursday (at the depot again). Following the public meetings, the district’s volunteer Vision Team will make a presentation to the school board at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Before the flurry of meetings, however, USD 480’s board members will take care of routine matters at tonight’s meeting. Items on the agenda include various reports, gifts and action items. Chief among them:
• A report from deputy superintendent of schools Renae Hickert, updating the competency-based grading system at Liberal High School. “The LHS school Improvement Team consisting of Luz Riggs, Heather Watt, Michelle Bremenkamp, Shelly Tiedeman, Lori Navarro, Wes Fox, Margaret Porter, Sara Rodriguez and Joni Bolen has come to consensus on the ‘important things’ regarding the grading framework,” Hickert reported. The team analyzed data gathered from staff and students, and presented the findings to the LHS faculty last Friday. The recommendations include setting a 20 percent grade weight on formatives, also called homework, daily assignments and so on; giving teachers discretion about how to offer test retakes; agreeing on consistent finals for different sessions of the same class; optional participation in competency-based grading by teachers for the coming spring semester.
• Details about “That” Liberal Band’s proposed trip to Orlando, Fla., May 24 to June 1.
• Information from director of auxiliary services Robert Burkey about the district’s participation in the “School Violence Awareness and Active Shooter” seminar conducted in November in Dodge City.
• Possible acceptance of a $3,650 grant from the Midwest Dairy Council, focused on offering a “second chance breakfast” at LHS partway through the morning’s classes, in order to increase breakfast participation at the school.
• Final approval of a resolution to refinance already-existing bonds held by the district.
• A report from director of federal services Sheri King, updating information about the district’s afterschool programs and a recently-completed kindergarten survey. “During the fall 2013 parent/teacher conferences, each elementary site administered a survey regarding previous preschool attendance and location,” King stated in her report. “Based on this year’s data, 20 percent of our kindergarten students did not attend a preschool program prior to Kindergarten.” The questions of whether or not to expand district preschool services, and whether or not to add all-day kindergarten to the elementary school program, are part of the district’s ongoing community input meetings.
The USD 480 school board meetings at 6:30 p.m tonight and 5:30 p.m. Thursday will take place at the Education Service Service Center, 624 N. Grant Ave., and are open to the public. Community meetings scheduled tonight through Thursday noon, also open to the public, will occur in various locations.