Operating shorthanded, USD 413 Board of Education officially posted a resolution for a vacant seat at Monday’s regular monthly meeting. Board Vice President Gary Wheeler’s resignation was accepted at April’s regular monthly meeting.
The filing deadline for the open seat is May 31. The open seat will fill the remainder of Wheeler’s term, set to expire Dec. 31. Thus, candidates will still need to file for the August primary.
Superintendent Kellen Adams said a vacant seat can present a number of challenges for the board.
“You have a collective unit that is used to each other and how they make decisions,” he said, as the board normally operates with seven members. “Generally speaking, we don’t have any split votes. Walking through that for the remaining months does present a challenge.”
Adams said the board wants to “honor” Wheeler’s resignation.
“He was an important voice and had an important perspective that is missing from the table,” Adams said. “I think we can get through this, weather the storm. We have people who are focused on the right things, a ‘Students First’ mentality. They’re not bringing personal agendas to the table.”
During Monday’s meeting at Royster Middle School, USD 413 was recognized by the Kansas State Board of Education. As part of the state board’s Kansans Can Star recognition program, Chanute Public Schools received bronze recognition for its graduation rate (90-92.9 percent) for a second consecutive year.
“That speaks to the great things we’re doing, and have been doing for a while now,” Adams said. “And we certainly don’t want it to get lost that this is teacher appreciation week and we’re very thankful for all that our teachers are doing. We’ve hung up banners around town as one more way of saying ‘thank you’ for all their hard work.”
Also during the meeting, CHS Activities Director Zack Murry presented the board with an overview of the state of athletics at the high school. Murry said 76 percent of the school’s students are involved in at least one extracurricular or co-curricular activity, with that number falling slightly under 50 percent for students involved in two or more.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know the number was that high,” Adams said, noting that those activities can range from football to chess. “That speaks to the opportunities that exist at Chanute High School.”
Adams said he was thrilled that every athletic program was able to finish out the year or is on target to do so.
“We have lost games, lost practices and so forth,” he said, referring to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “But every program has been able to start and finish their year. And that right there is an accomplishment.”
Echoing Murry’s report, Adams further noted that several of the high school’s programs have excelled. Those included the wrestling squad’s State runner-up showing and the chess team’s State championship finish.
“We’ve got several accolades to speak to that show the commitment of our students and coaches,” Adams said.
In other agenda items, the board:
• Accepted a donation of $1,000 from the USD 413 Foundation toward the district’s participation in Lego League.
• Accepted a donation of historical district documentation from the Wayne Lea family.
• Approved $2,300 payment to Kansas Association of School Boards for 2021-22 Legal Assistance Fund Membership.
• Approved payment to Kansas Association of School Boards for 2021-22 membership in the amount of $11,293.63. This included an additional amount of $1,500 for the 2021-22 Season Pass.
• Approved Hannah Wolf’s request to provide afterschool tutoring at Chanute Elementary School.
After closed executive session, the board approved the following actions:
• Resignations: Staci Cunningham, CHS assistant drama coach; Kim Luebbering, CES teacher; Dallas Masoner, RMS assistant football coach.
• Employments: Ethan Bush, CES vocal music teacher; Julie Ferraro, CES teacher; Carolyn Hoffman, food service; Chase Reed, CHS drama coach; Joe Summers, CHS assistant drama coach; Jared Wheeler, director of public relations.
• Terminations: None
• Retirements: None