School busing, staffing levels and curriculum were among the topics discussed Tuesday during a work session of the Leavenworth Board of Education.
Board members had several items on their agenda for the meeting. And for one of the agenda topics, discussion was opened up for items of interest raised by individual board members.
Board member Loyal Torkelson raised the issue of expanding busing for students. Currently, the district buses students who live 2.5 miles from school or farther because the state provides transportation funding for these children.
Kevin Gullett, chief financial officer for the district, said about 660 students in the school system qualify for busing. The district has more than 3,500 students.
Torkelson didn't recommend providing busing for all students. But he said he wishes the district could bus children in the elementary level.
Board vice president Marti Crow said the district can't afford to bus every child, but suggested officials could look at a prioritizing busing for younger children.
She said some children have to walk across busy streets to get to school. And there are some areas of the city in which few people have cars.
Crow suggested the idea of scholarships for some students to pay for their transportation.
Torkelson said he would like to see the state reduce the 2.5-mile distance requirement.
"When you're a little kid, that's a heck of a long way," he said.
Board president Mike Robinson noted Crow's suggestion about scholarships and said there might be some middle ground on the issue.
Board members asked Superintendent Kelly Crane to study the issue of expanding busing to at least some students using the parameters of elementary school children, students from low income families, high traffic areas and clusters of low income residents.
Doug Darling, who's been elected to the board but won't begin his term until next month, had questions about staffing levels.
Darling said he'd heard rumors in the community regarding information technology and custodial personnel. He asked if there still would be IT troubleshooters in the district.
"Absolutely," Crane said.
She acknowledged the technology staff has been reduced by seven or eight people, but the she said the district is transitioning to a different delivery model. She said the district is moving to a system where more things will be handled remotely.
Darling asked if the district will be contracting out for janitorial services.
"That is not something we're interested in," Crane said.
She said district officials have looked at the issue but plan to keep their own custodial staff.
Crane also said there has been reorganization at the district's central office with the announced departure of Associate Superintendent Eric Punswick.
Page 2 of 2 - "We will not be filling that position," she said.
Darling also questioned whether the number of people working in special education is adequate.
"We're staffed appropriately," Crane said.
There also was a question regarding the district's ability to sustain changes in curriculum. This led to discussion about what are known as Common Core standards, which have been adopted by most of the states including Kansas.
"It is a topic that is out there," Crane said.
Assistant Superintendent Bret Church said the Leavenworth district would have had to spend money to provide professional development to teachers regardless of what standards were adopted by the state.