Board president addresses national unrest

John Richmeier
Leavenworth Board of Education President Doug Darling, left, prepares to start a school board meeting Monday. The meeting marked the first time board members had gathered in person in about three months. Also pictured is Superintendent Mike Roth.

The president of the Leavenworth Board of Education joined the list of local elected officials to comment on the death of George Floyd and the unrest that has followed.

Speaking Monday during a school board meeting, President Doug Darling did not specifically mention Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. But Darling said he had been “horrified and saddened over the last two weeks as I observed events across this country.”

Floyd, a black man, died May 25 while in police custody. His death has sparked protests across the country and other parts of the world.

Darling said he had a heavy heart as the school board president of a district in a historically diverse community. But Darling said he was happy members of the community gathered Saturday to “recognize that individually and as a country there is a long way to go before Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s goal of a color blind society can be realized.”

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday for a Unity Walk in Leavenworth.

“As a public school district, we owe our patrons and taxpayers to operate school facilities where everyone is safe,” Darling said. “We address the well-being of our students and provide equitable opportunities for our students, staff and families.”

Darling also said the Leavenworth “school district cherishes honest differences of opinion discussed in a civilized manner. It has experience dealing with students from all over this world representing many different races, creeds and political beliefs. However, racism and divisiveness have no place in our facilities, in our community, in this country, this state or this nation. It will not be tolerated.”

Darling read the prepared statement at the beginning of the meeting. Monday’s meeting marked the first time school board members had gathered in person since March 9.

Because of concerns about COVID-19, board members conducted virtual meetings using an online videoconferencing service for about three months.

One board member, Dannielle Wells, was unable to attend Monday’s meeting but participated by telephone.

Monday’s meeting took place in the new Intermediate School. The school, which will house grades five and six, was constructed on the same campus as Richard Warren Middle School. And the two schools are connected to each other.

At the end of the meeting, Superintendent Mike Roth led board members on a tour of the nearly completed Intermediate School.

The Intermediate School has been built as part of a $36.7 million bond issue that was approved by voters in 2018.

During Monday’s meeting, board members approved the purchase of sod for an area of the Richard Warren Educational Campus where the Intermediate School is located.

Roth said officials originally had planned to seed the area for grass in April as part of the bond issue. But this did not occur because of weather and other issues. So school officials proposed laying sod in the area instead.

Roth said the sod is being purchased with money from the bond issue.

Board members approved the purchase of sod from Topeka Sod in the amount of $12,015.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth Board of Education:

• Approved districtwide fees for the 2020-2021 school year.

The districtwide fees include changes to fees that are charged for students at Leavenworth High School.

LHS Principal Christy Jones said standard fees were being proposed for all high school students instead of a varying set of class fees.

She said each student will be charged $100, which will include a $35 technology fee and a standard $65 class fee.

• Discussed scheduling a special meeting in July. Board members plan to schedule the special meeting to discuss the reopening of schools for the fall semester. The meeting will take place after the Kansas State Department of Education releases guidance to school districts.

No date has been set for the special meeting.

Board members plan to schedule the meeting when they gather July 13 for a regular monthly meeting.

Leavenworth Superintendent Mike Roth talks to Leavenworth City Manager Paul Kramer about the new Intermediate School at the Richard Warren Educational Campus. The two men spoke Monday before the start of a Leavenworth Board of Education meeting at the new school. Kramer was on hand to provide a quarterly report to board members about city government activities.