The USD 413 Board of Education was updated on costs related to projects at Chanute Elementary School during Monday’s regular monthly meeting.
The board first received a tour of CES, including several classrooms that have been hit hard by water leaks, as well as updates made to the school’s courtyard.
Classrooms adjacent to the courtyard were the ones that had absorbed major leakage from the outside. An upgraded drainage system was recently added to the courtyard. While there was also some leakage from above, an estimated $10,000 has been spent to address general roof repairs.
Future expenditures beyond the recent patch-and-repair work are estimated at $170,000. This includes a full-scale replacement of a section of the CES roof, as well as a section of the courtyard wall. Superintendent Kellen Adams said he’s considering calling a special meeting in order to expedite approval of the project funds.
At March’s regular meeting, the board received a tour of its new district headquarters, still under construction.
“It’s always important for the board to see where their dollars have been spent,” Adams said, “as well as establishing the context for why we’re doing projects. So when I bring that cost proposal, they’ll know why that’s been brought to us, and that we’re aware of the issues. There’s significant value in a tour like that.”
CES Principal Eric Hoops led the way on the guided tour. Board members also got a glimpse of the back hallway’s carpet transformation.
“Eric did a great job as usual,” Adams said. “He had a lot of good information about the building, and was able to put it in the right context. I’m very appreciative of him.”
CES Assistant Principal Jennifer Rausch provided a Mental Health Intervention Team (MHIT) update. MHIT provides resources and services for students, staff and families in need of mental health services. The team is composed of staff from Chanute Public Schools and Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center.
MHIT includes a health liaison, licensed therapist, and school counselors. The mental health liaison works with teachers to determine the needs ofw students in the classroom, and with parents to determine needs in the home.
As of March 31, Rausch said there were 73 CES students receiving school-based MHIT services, with that number projected to increase to 80 by the end of the school year. Rausch noted that a second school-based case manager has been added since the beginning of the school year. She said they also have a play therapist. This is a form of therapy that can assist children to better express or communicate their feelings, and is geared towards younger children.
“Jennifer spoke to a great program that we have, and great services that we provide to kids,” Adams said, adding that he believes the global pandemic has further exaggerated students’ mental health concerns.
“There’s a lot of mental health needs with our students, and we know that’s a barrier to learning,” Adams said. “If you are dealing with issues wat home or otherwise, that’s affecting your mental health, the last thing on your mind is being prepared to learn. Helping those kids get past that barrier is also setting them up for a successful learning environment.”
A Memorandum of Understanding with Neosho County Community College was unanimously approved. The MOU was the initial step in the approval of a $500,000 donation to NCCC’s technical education center. The NCCC tech-ed center is slated to offer new programs this fall geared towards high school students.
“The (lifetime) MOU with the college is critical,” Adams said. “It really sets up our students for great opportunities in the way of career and tech-ed. We’re very grateful to (NCCC President) Dr. Inbody for the relationship. It’s just been very good to work with him.”
The board will look to approve the $500,000 donation during next month’s regular meeting.
“The next step in the process is the financing,” Adams said. “We do have the cash we could pay for that. But this, as well as the board office remodel, really represents long-term projects that make sense to finance. And the cost of financing is extremely beneficial right now. And so, we’re very thankful to Community National Bank as well as the college for working with us on that.”
In related news, the board approved a conflict waiver. The board’s attorney for its recent financing matters also represents Community National Bank.
The board honored members from the CHS State championship chess team: Kayl Allen, Peyton Gregg, Darron Jones, Genasis Pedrino, Steven Showalter, Van Trester, and Zann Yoho; girls basketball team members Kori Babcock and Mattilyn Cranor; and CHS National debate qualifier Carson Cuesta.
“I really liked the student recognition,” Adams said. “We have a lot of really positive things happening with our kids.”
The board accepted the resignation of BOE vice president Gary Wheeler. Wheeler’s term was not set to expire until the end of the year. Wheeler was not present for Monday’s meeting.
“Although I have thoroughly enjoyed serving as a member of the board, my resignation presents new opportunities; not only for myself, but for my family as well,” said Wheeler in his resignation letter.
Long affiliated with the district, Wheeler said he remains readily available to help.
“I am simply a phone call away,” the letter read.