Abilene Public Schools may be on break for the summer, but the business of running the district continues on.

During the June 10 Abilene Board of Education meeting, members addressed some of those routine, but important items.

Van search


In March, the board approved the 2019-2020 capital outlay budget, which included funds to buy one used bus and two used vans.

Since then, the bus and one van already have been purchased, leaving a little more than $18,000 available to buy the second van. However, when bids were sent out for the van, all came back in the $20,000 range.

Since the bids came back higher than the allocated funds, Interim Superintendent Gary Nelson said the board needed to be involved in the decision.

With one of the lowest bids coming from way out of area, Board Member Kyle Becker suggested the district tell the Abilene dealership what it’s looking for so people there can be on the lookout.

“Our local dealership (Holm Automotive) has given us a lot of money lately,” Becker said. “He gave hats and gloves to kids this winter. I’d much rather wait and see what comes in and spend it accordingly.”

Board Member Gregg Noel asked district officials if the van was needed and fellow members if they wanted to consider increasing the maximum budget.

Clerk of the Board Joan Anderson said the van was needed and asked the board for specific bid parameters so Transportation Director Heather Henkle knows what to look for.

“And keep it local if you can,” said Board Member Mark Wilson. “I know the county (Dickinson County) goes back and forth on accepting bids out of county if there’s a small difference.”

“I can see staying local and going with one that’s a little higher in county if there’s a small difference, but if there’s a huge difference,” Wilson added.

The board voted to reject all bids received and reopened the bid process until June 30.

For future purchases, Nelson asked the board to think about increasing the price range “by at least $5,000 for vans and buses equally because things are getting more and more pricey,” Nelson said.

Food and milk bids

Providing hot lunches for five schools is a huge and expensive undertaking. For the 2019-20 food service program, the board approved F & A Food Sales as the prime (food)vendor with a bid of $1.60 per case and a “total market basket bid adjusted product quantity” of $173,769.56.

The “market basket” includes 56 items local food service officials use the most. Vendors are then asked to bid on those items.

“Caleb (Angolo, food service director) looked up the items we purchase a lot,” Nelson told the board.

The market basket practice is “an evaluation of the lowest price a vendor can offer for a representative sample of goods the program operators wish to obtain,” according to a 2018 (USDA) United States Department of Agriculture memo.

As for milk, the board approved the one bid received from Hiland Dairy in the amount of $68,734.25.


The board approved the district insurance premium bid of $332,250 from EMC Insurance Companies through Smart Insurance, Abilene. Board Member Kyle Becker left the meeting during discussion and the vote due to a conflict of interest.

Nelson said the bid reflected an increase of a “little over $17,000” attributed to workman’s comp and property inflation guard, “in anticipation of things that might happen,” he said.

“A lot of districts are worried about property insurance,” Nelson said. “The companies they work with are taking into consideration the flooding, hurricanes, weather and bumping up everybody’s premiums.

Other items

The board also:

• Heard that Abilene High School graduation has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 17, 2020. The date does not conflict with Mother’s Day, which is May 10, Nelson said.

• Approved the 2019-20 Memorial Health System School Sports Medicine Services Agreement in the amount of $15,810. Under the agreement, personnel from Memorial’s Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine program provide physical therapist evaluations and certified sports trainer services for student athletes. Staff are on hand during all regular season and post season varsity football games, both home and away. They also are available at times during the year for other sports.

• Approved the 2019-20 handbooks.

• Granted Nelson and Anderson permission to make end of year transfers to close out the 2018-19 fiscal year at the end of June.

• Approved paying $1,000 to a certified teacher who served as a mentor to a first year teacher. Nelson explained the State of Kansas requires every first year teacher to be mentored and the state pays the mentor. However, the state did not pay mentors in this certification field.

“They are required to mentor their people, but they don’t get paid because the state hasn’t set it up,” Nelson said. “(The person) went through all same things the other mentors did and we would like to have that person paid by us and hopefully, the state will change what they do.”

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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