Tensions ran high at the USD #386 Board Meeting Wednesday night after information was disclosed that USD #390 Hamilton was bringing a bus a few blocks from Madison schools to transport kids to their facilities without properly notifying the district.
According to Kansas Statute 72-3124 laws require school districts to mandate notification of another district when it provides out of district transportation for one or more of the students who reside in their district. According to Superintendent Stephen Jowers no notification was given even after he asked for the appropriate paperwork from Hamilton’s administration.
“Transportation can only be provided to out of district students that reside 2.5 miles or more from their local attendance center and have given the ‘home’ district prior notification to provide transportation. Out-of-district transportation cannot be provided to students residing 2.5 miles or less from their local attendance center and these students live three blocks away from our elementary school,” explained Jowers.
Jowers said he was a firm believer in not crossing district lines when transporting kids. “
If out-of-district students want to come to school here, we are happy to have them, but I will not take my buses out of district to get them,” he said.
Several board members were fired up about what was happening.
“We help them transport kids and try to work with them (Hamilton) on as many things as we can and be good neighbors and they are poaching our students most likely before the Sept. 20 cutoff date,” said Board Member Jeff Williams.
The Sept. 20 date is the cutoff date in which the state takes enrollment numbers to determine a school district’s General Fund Budget amount.
Board Member Todd Pyle also added that they have accommodated Hamilton many times by reducing the dollar amount of the sports agreement with them out of concern for them and their district.
It was unknown as to if the Hamilton Board of Education members were aware of this situation, but Madison’s school board wants answers and wonder if the school board is even aware this is happening or if they are behind it, all answers they hope to find out sooner than later.
“The only people this is going to hurt is the kids,” explained Board Member Jannette Luthi. “It doesn’t set a good example.”
Several board members agreed that this was breaking the law and wondered if it was time to sever some ties with USD #390.
“Maybe it’s time to rescind some of our contracts effective immediately if this is how they are going to operate,” said Williams. “This is not my idea of being neighborly.”
No action was taken on that comment in Wednesday night’s meeting.
In other business there was another lengthy debate on whether or not to let Lamont Wesleyan Church hold Wednesday night youth group at the school to make it easier and safer for the youth to attend. In return for letting them use the facility, church personnel volunteered to make some repairs to the lighting and sound system in the theater.
Jannette Luthi was opposed to the idea, and she felt like to keep things fair to everyone that the church needed to pay to use the building. She didn’t want there to be any claims of favoring one group over another. Williams and Jennifer Watts both questioned why Luthi was opposed to the church using the building free of charge like other organizations have done in the past. Member Ty Gaines and Jannette had concerns about someone from the church doing repairs on the building for liability reasons. They also discussed the possibility that instead of letting the church do the work, maybe they accept a donation from them to help offset the cost of doing the repairs through someone licensed to do so although most didn’t voice opposition of having the church physically help in some capacity.
“Let them use the facility like we let other groups/organizations. We can table letting them make any repairs until we have more information,” said Watts.
That motion carried 6-0.
Jowers asked for guidance on the plans and bids they have received from the architect about the FFA building and the weight room.
“We’re at a standstill, and I need to know where we go from here,” he said.
Williams said he had a problem spending that kind of money on an FFA building for 30 kids. “I’m not against the FFA by any means, but that’s a lot of money. I don’t understand how people can build metal buildings and finish them to live in for $200,000 and we are asking for much of the same with a price tag of 1.5 million dollars.”
The board agrees and feels like there are cheaper alternatives out there and doesn’t understand why the architect can’t get them something more reasonable. The board will research other avenues such as codes for simply just building a metal building without all the fancy architecture work and designs.
They also discussed that due to the cost of the FFA building (even at a cheaper price) and the weight room it was going to come at a high cost and maybe they needed to focus on one project at a time. Decide which one needs to be the priority and then start on the other one when the first one is finished.
In other business, Jeff William made seven motions when they came out of a thirty-minute executive session for personnel. Those motions were: (1) Accept Carla Thurston’s resignation effective as of 9/30/22. (2) Make all Aides & Cooks minimum salary of $12/hour with a small increase for each year of experience. (3) To hire Parker Gates as Assistant High School Football Coach. (4) To hire Payton King as an Elementary Aide at $12/hour. (5) To hire Breylia Wasson as an Elementary Aide at $12/hour. (6) To hire Molly Buster as Black/Gold Director at $4,937.50/year. (7) To increase Mark Adams, Transportation Director’s, salary to $22/hour.
The Revenue Neutral Rate Hearing and the Budget Hearing was held on Monday, September 12th and both items were passed as published in The Madison News at an earlier date.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:06 p.m.