The USD 251 North Lyon County Board of Education continued discussions on the possible opening of a district preschool, Wednesday evening.
School Improvement Coordinator Becky Mayes presented board members with the results of a survey sent out to district families about their thoughts on bringing a preschool into the district. There is currently one preschool program in the northern part of the county — the NLC Youth Association and Child Development Center, located in Allen.
Mayes said there were more than 80 children identified in the district that could potentially benefit from a preschool. They received 51 responses to the survey, which asked questions about the need for a preschool, if they would use a full or half-day preschool, if they needed transportation and more.
Superintendent Robert Blair said there were a number of considerations and items to complete before getting a preschool off the ground. He said while he would love to recommend starting a preschool in the fall, the most feasible option would be fall 2022.
He said his recommendation would be to start in “layers” with beginning with an all-day 4-year-old classroom and then expanding from there.
The major decision would be where the preschool would be located — either a new construction or remodeling in an existing district building.
“We’ve got to adopt a curriculum, we’ve got to hire an aide,” Blair said. “There’s lots of things we’ve got to get done.”
The district would need to pass all required inspections, which would take anywhere between 60 - 90 days, and grants would need to be written and applied for within certain time frames.
While board members echoed Blair’s enthusiasm for getting the preschool started sooner, they overwhelmingly agreed that moving forward conservatively was the better move in order to do things the right way.
“I sure like the recommendation of waiting and doing it right,” said Board President Matt Horton.
In other discussion items, the board discussed the district’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Wednesday, there were 28 students on quarantine and one student who was confirmed positive. Four staff members were quarantined with two positive for the novel coronavirus.
Horton expressed frustration that so many students were having to quarantine, given that the Centers for Disease Control had released plans to reduced the quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19. The revised quarantine guidance, released in December, says people who have been in contact with someone infected with the virus can resume normal activity after 10 days, or seven days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the pandemic began. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment adopted similar guidelines but left it up to counties on how to proceed.
During the board’s Dec. 9 meeting, Blair shared that Lyon County Public Health had decided to remain under a 14-day quarantine instead of adopting the CDC’s shortened quarantine plan.
Horton suggested the board consider adopting a policy that followed both KDHE and CDC guidelines, in order to get students and teachers back into classrooms faster if they weren’t showing symptoms and had not tested positive for COVID.
After some discussion, it was agreed that the board would seek guidance from public health officials and from the Kansas Association of School Boards attorney before any decisions were made. A motion was made to table the discussion until a special meeting, a date for which is not yet set.
The board also approved contract extensions for Superintendent Robert Blair, Principals Peggy Fort and Corey Wiltz, and School Improvement Coordinator Becky Mayes.
They also approved a $83,804 purchase from Midwest Bus Sales for the purchase of a new 53-passenger Thomas bus. The bus comes with a 3-year warranty and the district will receive a $20,000 rebate after the bus is delivered.