Board authorizes additional money for school construction projects

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth school board members voted this week to spend an additional $395,831 for school construction projects in addition to what was approved in a 2018 bond issue.

Board members also voted to provide employees of the school district bonuses for working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Voters in the school district approved a $36.7 million bond issue in 2018 to pay things such as a new intermediate school and converting a former elementary school into an early education center.

Superintendent Mike Roth said about $1.5 million from the school district’s capital outlay fund previously was added to the money generated from the bond issue. This increased the total money available for the school construction projects to more than $38 million.

And board members voted Monday to add $395,831 to improve collaboration spaces at David Brewer, Anthony and Henry Leavenworth elementary schools.

Jeff Gattis, regional president for Nabholz, said the improvements to the collaboration spaces are estimated to cost $724,270. He said $328,439 already is available because of savings from projects that have been completed as part of the bond issue. But the additional $395,831 was still needed to pay for the entire cost of the collaboration space improvements.

Nabholz has been serving as the construction manager for the projects resulting from the 2018 bond issue.

Gattis said the proposed improvements will build collaboration spaces at the elementary schools to the same level of what exists at Leavenworth High School, Leavenworth Intermediate School and the new Earl Lawson Early Education Center.

“It would be done and complete by the start of school next year,” Roth said.

The superintendent said it is important for board members and members of the public to understand that money from the bond issue has not been misused or misspent. He said the district already has been able to complete enhancements in addition to the work that originally was planned as part of the bond issue.

Beth Mattox, chief financial officer for the school district, said the additional $395,831 will be taken from the district’s capital outlay fund.

Board members voted Monday to allow each classified employee to receive a bonus of up to $1,000 for working during the pandemic. The classified staff includes positions such as custodians and food workers.

Classified employees will receive $100 for each month they have worked during the current school year. The bonuses will be paid in lump sums in June.

Roth said the bonuses for classified employees only focus on the current school year because classified staff members were paid additional pandemic pay during the last school year.

Board members also voted to pay teachers and administrators an additional $240 per month for each month they have worked since March 2020. They can receive the additional pay for up to 13 months.

The $240 is based on an additional eight hours of pay per month at a rate of $30 per hour. Roth said this is the rate of pay teachers receive for working during summer school.

Board members also voted to increase the starting pay for paraprofessionals from $10.25 per hour to $11.25 per hour for the next school year. The pay increase was approved in an effort to increase recruitment and retention of paraprofessionals.

In other business

The Leavenworth Board of Education:

• Voted to pay $900 for participation in a Kansas Joint Utilities Management Program legal coalition for a lawsuit concerning possible price gouging of natural gas during extremely cold weather in February.

Superintendent Mike Roth said the district normally is charged between $18,000 and $21,000 for natural gas in February.

He said the district is being charged $115,628 for this past February. For now, board members have voted to pay only $27,233 to Symmetry Energy Solutions for the month of February.

• Voted to replace equipment for the districtwide computer network. The equipment is being purchased from Infinitech for $798,906.

• Approved the purchase of McGraw-Hill Reveal Math textbooks and other materials for grades one through six for a total cost of $249,349.

• Approved the purchase of 300 student iPads and 50 teacher iPads from Apple for a total amount of $143,097. The iPads will be used at the Earl Lawson Early Education Center.