By TIM HORAN
Lunches, graduation and senior class schedules were among the hot topics at the Abilene 435 regular Board of Education meeting Monday night.
Students and adults that eat lunches at the Abilene schools will be paying more next school year.
But not a lot, and not necessarily because the lunches themselves are losing money.
Abilene food service coordinator Kayleen Krehbiel reported to the board that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires school districts to spend a specific amount of money on lunches. Currently the Abilene school district does not spend enough, she said.
And because their food service did operate slightly in the black, she recommended a five cent increase for all lunches, both student and adult.
The board unanimously approved the increase.
“We have to spend so much money on lunches. If we don’t raise fees, we would have to transfer so much out of the general fund into the food service ($2,134.56) to comply with that act,” said Abilene Superintendent Denise Guy. “You have a choice of either raising lunch prices or using general funds to help supplement those costs for goods.”
“The new fees will still be lower that most districts,” Krehbiel said. “I thought we had to do this every five years but now we have to do this annually to see where we stand.”
She said the five cents is minimal.
“I don’t think it is fair to the parents or kids to raise prices if we don’t have to,” she said.
Abilene High School’s graduation will probably move to Sunday next year.
Abilene Athletic Director Will Burton said that if the Class 4A Regional Track and Field meet had been postponed last month, the make-up day would have been Saturday, the day of Abilene graduation.
“I would hate to see a student have to make that decision,” Burton said.
He said next year Abilene’s normal graduation day would fall the same time as the Class 4A State Tennis Tournament.
“During the month of May, there is something on the schedule every Saturday,” he said.
The board took no official action but did not object to the calendar committee looking into a Sunday date for graduation.
Abilene High School Principal Ben Smith presented to the board a contract for second semester seniors to opt into an early release program.
The proposal would allow second semester seniors who have earned enough credits, to modify their spring semester schedule to reflect only the classes they need for the following areas: graduation, CTE pathway completer, Kansas honors curriculum, maintaining athletic/activity eligibility and IEP maintenance.
He said that Kansas’ regulations say students must pass five courses in order to compete in athletics or activities.
Abilene High School graduating seniors are required to earn 26 credits to graduate including: 4 language arts; 3 mathematics, 1.5 wellness, 3 science, 3 social science, 1 fine arts, 1 technology and 9.5 electives.
“Parents and students both sign it (contract),” Smith said. “By having parents sign it, they are aware that their students aren’t going to be with us all day long.”
Students would only attend classes that are required. Students would then be available to work more hours, take college courses or participate in other activities.
Board member Randy Gassman asked how many students would take advantage of the program.
“In one form or another I would guess that every student that qualifies will take advantage,” Smith said. “Even if it means they are taking three classes a day instead of four. I struggle to think of a scenario where a student who says I qualify for this but I would rather take as many classes as I can, even if I don’t need them.
“I have been in a school before that did this and there were zero problems with it,” Smith said.
“When students choose to go to college, sometimes the biggest challenge is just going to class and staying engaged” said board President Kari Porter-Murray. “When we did college visits, we had so many advisers indicate ‘Don’t lighten your load your senior year because it’s too difficult to gear back up.’ That is one concern that I have. They are going to have a huge transition from senior year to freshmen in college or technical school or wherever they are going. It will not be part time. It will be a full time effort. Could you show me that this is what a college adviser will support or that this is what other schools are doing?”
The board took no action but agreed to bring up the subject at the July meeting.
It was also announced at the board meeting that long-time math teacher and tennis coach Garry Stredney has retired. In other personnel matters resignations included: Barb Funston, McKinley reading para; Mona Koop, Kennedy booster kindergarten; Sherri Noel, AHS assistant volleyball coach; and John Vecchio, AHS assistant baseball coach.
Other employment transfers and other action: Emma Detrixhe, AHS science teacher; Alison Ogle, fourth grade teacher; Nicole Taylor, summer painting; Megan Berry, summer painting; Kurstin Guy, summer tech; Taylor Alderson, summer tech; Wyatt Youtsey, summer tech; and Megan Jones, AHS assistant volleyball coach.
In other action:
• approved a second assistant cross country coach;
• approved the contract with Memorial Health System for an athletic trainer;
• approved a 2013-2014 district insurance contract changing the vehicle deductable to $1,000.