USD 382 Board of Education hears from teachers, students, and makes pandemic plans

Ruby Howell
Pratt Tribune
Pratt High School class members and teachers from the Geometry and Construction class (from left) teacher Tim Rector, Max Younie, Angel Hernandez and Maddox Riffery, (back - teacher, Melissa Rector) explain to USD 382 Board of Education members November 9 how their class takes real-world construction lessons and geometry to a deeper level. [Courtesy photo]

Pratt High School teachers Tim and Melissa Rector, came to the USD 382 Board of Education meeting on November 9 to share background information on the class they teach with board members. 

The Rectors co-teach geometry and construction, which is offered to PHS students as a 2-hour block, gives students the opportunity to earn a math credit for geometry and an elective credit in building trades.  Because of the move to remote learning in the 4th quarter, last year’s project, the Mobile Frog Shop, is being finished by Rector’s construction II class.  For this year, the combo math/construction class is designing and building a shed, which will be sold upon completion.  Melissa  Rector leads the geometry instruction.  Then, on alternating days, Tim Rector incorporates the math lessons into the instruction on building.

High school students Max Younie, Angel Hernandez and Maddox Riffey gave student perspectives on the challenges and learning involved.  Hernndez was a project manager on the scale model build and he said teamwork and patience was very important as he kept his team on schedule.  

Following the presentation, the board members heard the monthly reports and reviewed the payment of bills.  Greg Reimer from Busby, Ford, and Reimer, an independent financial auditor, reviewed the financial audit with the board and reported the district’s finances to be in good shape and without issues.  The board members approved the audit 7-0.

Tony Helfrich, USD 382 Superintendent, reported on a possible FEMA grant, which would provide a 75/25 match on the building of a F-5 tornado proof structure at Southwest Elementary.  The district is seeking clarification on initial project estimates to see if it can be constructed within the proposed budget.  

Helfrich also discussed the Kansas Association of School Board’s property insurance program, which is a member-operated program of school districts in Kansas.  The number of districts in the program has quadrupled in the last 2 years.  The district’s current carrier, Wright Specialty, is pulling out of Kansas due to weather volatility.  

A topic of concern was current pandemic numbers and school planning and protocols.  Helfrich said that the Pratt County Health Department wants to keep schools open because director Darcie Van Der Vyver believes it is the safest option for kids and reduces the risk of community spread.  At this time, department tracking indicates that all positive, active coronavirus cases in the community are connected to students or staff through non-school exposure.  Helfrich said district officials will continue to monitor the situation.  He also said the other potential obstacle is staffing shortages due to staff being quarantined either because of a positive test result or being a Level 1 contact.  Helfrich told the board he is looking into the possibility of doing mass, rapid COVID testing upon return from Christmas Break.  He said that he had run that possibility by the District Site Council and it was suggested to avoid making it a mandate.  The board members requested more information on the process and the plan is to survey parents and staff.

In other business,  board members:

* Approved the bid for a 3-year copier lease program with Bolen Office Supply.  Helfrich said that copiers in several of the buildings were not consistently operational and the lease program would bring newer models to all of the schools.  The board members approved the motion 7-0.