District board meeting recap Feb. 11

Grace Altenhofen, Editor-in-Chief

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The following is a summary of the Feb. 11 SMSD Board of Education meeting. Board member Deb Zila was absent and President Brad Stratton participated by phone.  


  • Adoption of agenda; approval of minutes from Jan. 31 regular and special meetings


  • Report by Superintendent Michael Fulton
    • Students at the CAA assembled care packages for those in need as part of Kindness Week
    • Pawnee Elementary received a gift of 50 culturally diverse books
    • Three SMSD students earned the National Center for Women in Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing
    • SM West gymnastics coach Bernadette Wagner was honored with the UMB Lifetime Sportswoman Award
    • Indian Hills Middle School custodian Chris Garrett and Merriam Park Elementary School Instructional Coach Dustin Springer were named ‘All Stars’
    • Chief of Student Services Ed Streich and Executive Director of Emergency Management John Douglass are retiring at the end of this school year
    • Dr. Fulton briefly touched on the need for diversity training within the district and the need to hire in-house legal counsel
    • The first Strategic Planning Committee meeting was held Feb. 5


  • Reports from Board Members
    • Mary Sinclair said the KASB advocacy team is implementing its legislative platform


  • Public Comments
    • A parent of a student at Belinder Elementary spoke about the importance of diversity in schools and hiring staff members who reflect student demographics
    • A parent of an SM West student discussed their experience on a diversity and inclusion committee at West and talked about the effects of the achievement gap between racial groups
    • A parent of two SM East graduates is also part of a diversity and inclusion group and said SMSD has more progress to make
    • A parent of students at East said a group of diversity and inclusion advocates has written a letter asking the district to act on their requests for diversity specialists and training, which has gained over 300 signatures so far
    • A teacher from East discussed the importance of diversity training, saying it’s important for teachers to be able to show different perspectives when teaching a lesson
    • A parent of kids at East talked about the daily microaggressions that African-American students can face


  • The board received an update on the new food services policy in which students can incur a negative balance on their lunch account. The current negative balance total is -$16,554.21 and families are being contacted about these negative balances. There are also now 16 schools participating in a free after-school snack or meal program.


  • Lobbyist Stuart Little gave a brief legislative update which included discussion about KPERS funding


  • Drew Lane, Executive Director of Information and Communication Technologies​, gave an update on the district’s ICT program. He discussed areas in need of immediate improvement as well as areas in which the district is doing well, as well as acknowledging an increase in help desk calls this school year


  • Approval of consent agenda items


  • Approval of Scholastic Journalism Week Proclamation


  • Approval of Revised Board Policy BBC, board committees definitions


  • Approval of Pre-K tuition increase


  • Comments from Board
    • Patty Mach thanked John Douglass and Ed Streich for their time in the district and took time to remember Larry Martin, a Belinder Elementary teacher who recently passed away
    • Sara Goodburn encouraged everyone to see SM South’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar
    • Laura Guy said she attended the Strategic Planning kickoff and thanked Superintendent Fulton for his work on that
    • Mary Sinclair encouraged everyone to check out Thought Exchange, the program the district is using the gather input from patrons
    • Heather Ousley thanked those who spoke during open forum


  • The board dismissed to executive session to discuss litigation, personnel issues and the appeal of a student suspension
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