The Chanute school board voted to pay for turf for the Santa Fe Park baseball and softball field renovation, and administrators will look into the future for Royster Stadium after Monday evening’s board meeting.

Approval for turf at the Santa Fe sports complex allows the city, which is renovating the ballfields, to set the outer fence for high school competition standards. The USD 413 Board of Education approved a quote of $430,000 from Kansas Turf in Meridian for one baseball and one softball field.

The city requested that the school district pay the full cost of the turf.

Board President Jeff Caldwell said turf would allow the teams to play games that might otherwise be cancelled. The field at Katy Park is often flooded, and even fields that aren’t in a flood plain can quickly become unplayable if they are grass. Turf fields drain more quickly and are not damaged by wet conditions.

The school district is not allowed to make capital improvements on property it does not own. Superintendent Kellen Adams said that the spending is effectively a lease on the ballfields. The district had planned to spend $25,000 per year on a lease, and the turf is expected to last about 12 years, for a total of $300,000.

Adams said the Memorandum of Understanding would put replacement on the school district.

“If we were the sole user of the asset, I would not have a problem with that,” he said.

Board member Brad LaRue said he was uncertain about committing future boards to replacement.

Adams said he would bring the city’s MOU to the next school board meeting.

Adams also said he wanted to start a conversation about Royster Stadium. He said the seating area is an iconic structure, but poses public safety and health concerns.

He said the infrastructure is crumbing and is also the site of illegal activities.

“It’s time that we take it down,” LaRue said, proposing the high school journalism students document the stadium.

Adams said he intends to keep the grass field for practice and that the middle school had 41 practices there in Fiscal Year 2019 plus classroom visits.

The track also gets use, but Adams said it also is not safe. He plans to look into involvement in the city’s Healthy Pathways grant funding.

He said lifelong Chanutians will see the stadium as iconic, and he has experienced building demolitions where grown alumni were in tears.

“I don’t want to just bring in the wrecking ball tomorrow,” Adams said.


Tobacco policy review

The superintendent also raised discussion about vaping and e-cigarettes, including the Juul brand, which have been confiscated at Chanute schools. Adams said his firm belief is that recreational drugs, including nicotine, have no place in schools.

“We have a policy that is already antiquated,” he said. “It has now spilled down to the elementary levels, which is really scary to me.”

He said parents are buying the substances for children, thinking they are comparable to candy cigarettes.

The district’s tobacco policy was last updated in 2011.

LaRue questioned how language in the proposed revisions would apply to nicotine patches or gum for people, including high school students, who are trying to quit tobacco.

Assistant Superintendent Matt Koester said the language specifies inhaling, while chewing tobacco is addressed further down.


Other business

The board delayed a decision on application forms for non-resident transfer students.

The board had a first read last month on the form, but Adams said attorneys for the Kansas Association of School Board made several revisions. Board member Gary Wheeler moved to accept the application, which was seconded. After discussion to bring it back next meeting, Wheeler offered to withdraw his motion, but since it had been seconded it went to a vote. Wheeler was the only one who voted in favor.

If approved, the form will be used, but non-resident transfers are already past the date to be accepted for this school year.

The school district’s headcount for this year is 1,822.5, which is up from last year. The average headcount over five years is 1,786.54.  This year’s unweighted equivalence of full-time students is 1,840, and the weighted Full Time Equivalence is 2,618.4. 

The five-year average is 1,803.94 unweighted and 2,578.88 weighted.

The weighted FTE is down 4.6 students, which Adams said will result in $20,000 less in funding.

Assistant Superintendent Tracy Maring said every school has 35 or more students who are considered at-risk. But the number of students receiving free or reduced lunches is also down, indicating their family finances have improved enough that they no longer qualify, but not enough to really benefit.

School board members Monday evening also approved bond refinancing at an interest rate of 2.71 percent, which Adams said will save $504,930.

Also approved was the purchase of a 2019 Ford passenger wagon from Merle Kelly Ford for $28,575, and a 71-passenger bus with air-conditioning, luggage storage, a camera system and seat belts. Midwest Bus Sales in Bonner Springs had the winning bid at $105,361. The purchases are part of an ongoing program to purchase a new vehicle and a new bus each year.

Curriculum changes were approved on a final read and a first read was held on other changes. Maring reported on the spring 2019 Kansas Assessment math and English Language Arts results. 

High School Principal Brian Campbell reported on programs at the Regional Rural Technical Center in La Harpe, a cooperative venture between Neosho County, Fort Scott and Cloud County community colleges.

NCCC and FSCC offer programs that Chanute already has, which provides a chance for additional Chanute students to participate. Cloud County also is offering courses on renewable energy and wind power generation.

Campbell said 36 students visited the center and 28 to 30 expressed an interest in the renewable energy programs. Six Chanute students are taking the Cloud County classes, and Iola High School students are also involved.

The board approved the resignation of Royster Middle School Assistant Principal Landon Diveley and the hiring of Shonda Almond for the Chanute Elementary School food service; Michelle Finley for CHS food service; and Steve Slane and Terri Houdashelt for RMS food service. Grace Klaassen, Stacy Stich and Christa McGee were hired as CES classroom aides; Rodney Perkins and Dianna Mitchell as CES custodians; Loretta Neely as van driver; Debbie Ray as bus rider; Jacob Hutchinson as New Beginnings Academy aide; and Sarah Wilcox as RMS StuCo co-sponsor. Jason Stipp was transferred from part-time to full-time at CES.

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