Kyle Becker will serve as the president of the Abilene Board of Education in 2019-20 while Randy Gassman will be vice-president.

Fellow Abilene School Board members elected the two by unanimous ballot Monday night during the July reorganizational meeting.

As part of the yearly “housekeeping” items, members approved the 2019-20 board appointments, annual renewal of operational items, resolutions and policy actions.

Board members pulled one item — naming the board attorney — off the consent agenda and ultimately decided to name KASB (Kansas Association of School Boards) legal counsel as the board’s attorney.

Superintendent Greg Brown, in his first meeting as district leader, said he had received a couple phone calls from board members concerning the board attorney appointment

He explained that some districts choose to use KASB legal counsel for advice.

“Quite frankly, I did visit with KASB a little bit about that today,” Brown said, explaining that the KASB representative he talked to said Abilene was “kind of that t’weener size” — not a large district, but also not a small district.

“A big district certainly would want to have somebody at their disposal on a regular basis,” he said. “But KASB obviously is very knowledgeable about anything to do with school stuff.”

If the district did face formal litigation, KASB would likely recommend the board hire a specific lawyer to represent them who “would focus entirely on the school district’s needs at that point,” Brown explained. “But for a lot of general things, KASB can do that.”

Since the Abilene district already is a member of KASB, the district is paying for the organization’s services.

“If we get into a certain situation and we need to go outside (for an attorney), I’m sure KASB will recommend we go outside so there’s an opportunity to go that direction,” commented Board Member Gregg Noel. “Over the past few years we’ve discussed that we’re paying KASB anyway.”

When he served as board president Noel said he called KASB many times and found it easy to get questions answered without having to wait for someone to call back.

“They’re there,” Noel said.

Board Member Chris West asked how much the board paid its current attorney Deb James. Brown said the attorney was paid only when her services were needed.

Gassman wondered if it was necessary to designate a board attorney.

“I know we have to have an official depository and official newspaper, but is there any statute saying we have to do so for an attorney?” Gassman asked.

Brown said it is necessary to designate legal counsel, but noted many districts simply name KASB Legal Services.

Becker said if a situation occurred where the district needed its own attorney, the board could hire an individual who specialized in “whatever situation you’re in.”

Meeting time stays same

In other re-organization matters, the board discussed changing its meeting time on the second Monday of each month to follow Daylight Savings Time.

Becker said a couple board members had discussed following Daylight Savings Time which would mean starting at 6 p.m. while DST is in effect and moving it to 7 p.m. other times.

Board meetings have been held at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month for a number of years now, although Assistant Superintendent Chris Cooper reminded members the meeting used to alternate between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. depending on the time of year.

Noel, who is a farmer, commented that a 30-minute time change doesn’t make much difference to farmers.

“Thirty minutes doesn’t matter. If you’re going to be late, you’re going to be late. That’s why we went straight across the board at seven o’clock,” Noel said, adding that he had no preference.

“If you have more city people, six o’clock may be fine,” Noel remarked.

West asked Abilene High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Will Burton if a 6 p.m. meeting time would accommodate teachers’ and administrators’ schedules.

Burton said that depends on what is going on during any given day, but said it’s easier to remember 7 p.m. as the set meeting time.

The board approved keeping the meeting time the same as before at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month.

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