USD 383 Board of Education, Sept. 20, 2017

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Work session:

Representatives of BG Consultants, who have been developing a facilities’ master plan for the district, provided the board with preliminary information.  The consultants projected that in the next five years, the elementary level will need 23 additional classrooms, which could result in the need for an additional elementary school.  The consultants suggested the option of creating K-5 elementary schools and moving 6th grade to the middle school level to alleviate some of the crowding at the elementary level.  The middle schools could be added onto to accommodate the additional students, and the consultants also recommended adding a large music room to the middle schools that could double as a storm shelter.  The consultants said that MHS East Campus is underutilized and could house twice as many students.  They suggested locating administrative offices in MHS East Campus or to create an innovative campus for grades 9-12.  For the next 5 years, the consultants projected $124 million in projects, which could be compacted, deferred, completed with capital outlay, or become a bond project.  For the next 20 years, the consultants projected the district will need to invest $242 million in implementation and maintenance.  Dave Colburn commented that a big item in the preliminary master plan is moving 6th grade to middle school versus building a new K-6 school, and he asked about the cost difference and which could be completed quicker.  The consultants said they were finalizing numbers and were also looking at the option of constructing two elementary schools in lieu of moving 6th grade.

Regular meeting:

Jason Hilgers and Eddie Eastes with the City of Manhattan updated the board on the recreation and trails sales tax that will be on the November ballot.  If approved by voters, $8.5 million would be spent at each middle school to add on 30,000-40,000 square foot facilities.  Another $8.5 million would be spent on improvements at CiCo Park.  Other funds would be dedicated to expanding trails and filling gaps in trails.  Mr. Colburn commented that if the tax isn’t approved, the district would have to add gyms to the middle schools and use property taxes.

Eric Reid, Asst. Superintendent, provided a report on enrollment.  The elementary level was up 106, middle school was up 33 students, and the high school level was up 73 students, for an overall increase of 212 students.  Mr. Reid also reported on student transfers, and there were 63 “forced” transfers, which occurs when the school a student is supposed to attend is overcrowded and the student is moved to a less-crowded school.

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Riley County Law Board, September 18, 2017

Observer:  Greg Wurst

The Riley County Law Board met at 12:00 PM on Monday, September 18.

It began with an update on the Community Advisory Board.  There are nine members and one vacancy.  A KSU student has just been recruited.  Their job is to assist and advise the RCPD and relay community needs to them.  They meet on the first Tuesday of every month at 11:30AM at Bluestem Bistro.  All are welcome.

October 28 will be a day when prescription drugs can be brought to RCPD or the mall for destruction.

RCPD is buy seven new vehicles that were already in the budget.

The Radio Infrastructure Replacement Agreement was discussed.  The county will be in charge of the infrastructure, e.g. antennas, relays and towers.  Agencies that was to be a part of this and use the system such as RCPD, Manhattan Fire Department, Emergency Services and Ambulances will have to buy the prescribed radios to fit the system.  The county will buy the infrastructure and radios together to get them cheaper then distribute the radios.

The Workman’s Comp Self Funding agreement was approved after discussions on the definition of an emergency and funding which will be agreeable to the state.

The Law Board will furnish a letter approving a grant request which will fund a recovering mental health patient as a certified peer counselor who will work with inmates and recent releases.  The letter will give the grant a priority and allow the a counselor to work in the jail.The counselor will work through Pawnee Mental Health and is budgeted for 20 hours a week.  They will help people with things such as housing, medicaid and finding a doctor.

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USD 383 Board of Education, Aug. 16, 2017

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

The board held a public hearing on the proposed budget, and no members of the public addressed the board.

The first day of the 2017-18 school year had been Aug. 16, and Eric Reid, Asst. Superintendent, reported on preliminary enrollment numbers.  Mr. Reid said the district has been retaining more students for longer periods than has been the pattern in the past.  He said the biggest change was at the high school level, but some of the students included in the count may not be returning, so the number isn’t very firm.  Elementary enrollment was estimated to have increased approximately 86 students, middle school increased by approximately 26 students, and high school increased by 83, but the high school number was less accurate.  Mr. Reid commented that the district doesn’t have the physical places to put kids into classrooms and added that the district has the kids and the rooms, but sometimes the numbers don’t match up right, meaning sometimes students have to be shifted to where a school has space.  Darell Edie commented that the district had added three new elementary classrooms, and the elementary level is still full.  Dave Colburn asked if classrooms had spilled into any of the rooms designated for specials (i.e. music, art, etc.).  Mr. Reid said that Northview Elementary had used its overflow flex space and has probably lost some flexibility.

The board discussed the 2017-18 budget and where to set the capital outlay mill levy.  Lew Faust, Dir. of Business Services, informed the board that $254,000 for security needs had been moved from a level two priority to level one.  Mr. Faust also mentioned a few expensive items, such as roofs, will be coming up as needing to be addressed, and money could be set aside in anticipation of the expenses.  Mr. Colburn asked if the levy would be set at 8.0 mills or 7.5 mills, and Mr. Faust answered that 7.5 mills would fund the proposed projects and 8.0 mills would help with cash flow and with setting funds aside for fiscal year 2019.  Mr. Colburn said that USD 383 has one of the highest mill levies when compared to similar districts if one discounts the bond and interest fund.  For residential property taxes, a flat mill levy would cause an increase of $40, a mill levy of 55.372 would cause an increase of $49, and a mill levy set at 56.270 would cause an increase of $61.  Aaron Estabrooks commented that what he expected would happen in Topeka if the district doesn’t use all of its authority is legislators will say, “Why didn’t you?”  He added that we don’t know what will happen with the Supreme Court, and we don’t want to tie our hands. Curt Herrman commented that he liked administration’s original proposal because of the sales tax that will be on the ballot and because the district will probably have a bond issue coming up.  Leah Fliter commented that the sales tax on the ballot won’t be an increase and will redirect a current tax.  Ms. Fliter moved to set the levy at 56.270 mills with capital outlay set at 8.0 mills.  Mr. Colburn said he liked administration’s original proposal and said it’s an unpleasant choice either way.  Anticipating that the vote might split 3-3, the board discussed calling absent member Marcia Rozell for her vote.  Mr. Colburn said that given the dilemma the board was facing in needing to get the budget finalized, he would support the motion but wanted it noted that he did so under protest.  The motion was approved 4-2, with Mr. Colburn, Mr. Estabrooks, Ms. Fliter, and Pat Hudgins voting in favor, and Mr. Herrman and Mr. Edie voting against.

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Riley County Commission July 24, 2017

Riley County Commission July 24,

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Wells and Wilson present, Rodriguez absent.

Lori Feldcamp, director of Big Lakes Developmental Center, reported the Legislature approved a 3% increase in funding for developmental disabilities centers this year.  The two year budgeting process provides for a similar increase for a following year.  Feldcamp says the increase will allow Big Lakes to raise hourly salaries to $11.  Low salaries have made it difficult to attract employees and keep positions filled.  The increase in funding is the first for Kansas’ developmental disabilities centers in nine years.

Feldcamp said BLDC is initiating a drive to raise endowment funds to provide the agency security against budget cuts in the future.

Riley County Extension Director Jennifer Wilson said efforts are underway to prepare for the Riley County Fair to be held July 27 through 31.  Admission is free and a $25 wristband allows the person to enjoy all rides from 6-10 pm each night. The Kaw Valley Rodeo will also be held at the Fair July 27, 28 and 29 in Wells Arena starting at 8 pm. This year the announcer will be on horseback in the ring.  Entries are coming in from many states.

The Tax Auction on delinquent ad valorem property is scheduled for August 16th.  Persons interested should check the County website.

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USD 383 Board of Education, July 5, 2017

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Board members elected Darell Edie to serve as board president.  Both Curt Herrman and Leah Fliter were nominated for vice-president.  Board members voted by ballot and elected Mr. Herrman to serve.  The board also approved several other routine annual appointments.

The board received an update from Lew Faust, Dir. of Business Services, about budget planning.  Both sides of the school funding lawsuit have filed their briefs.  The state maintains that the proposed budget is adequate, and if the Supreme Court finds otherwise, the Legislature should be allowed to fix it.  The plaintiffs claim the proposed funding is inadequate and believe schools should close on Aug. 1 if the funding isn’t fixed.  Mr. Faust also reported that he had just been notified that the district’s budget authority had increased, and he had not had time to develop a report.

Board members approved front door and window replacement for Lee Elementary because both had been damaged in a automobile accident in April.  The driver’s insurance covered the replacement expenses.  The board also approved sanitary sewer repairs at MHS West Campus and an HVAC piping replacement at Anthony.

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Riley Count Commissioners Board Meeting, June 26, 2017

Board of Riley County Commissioners June 26, 2017

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Wells, Rodriguez and Wilson present, Wells as chair.

Robbin Cole, director of Pawnee Mental Health Services, said the news from the legislative session this year is basically positive. Community mental health facilities are allowed to exempt guns from their premises and first responders may now administer medication to deal with opioid abuse.

Osawatomie State Hospital continues to lose $1 million a month because of lack of federal certification; however, issues affecting patients have been corrected and remaining deficiencies involve food service and policies. Governor Brownback still would like to privatize State hospitals.

Jane Freyenberger, WIC Supervisor, presented the Kansas Local Health Department Agency’s proposed budget to cover WIC and breastfeeding services for Riley County, Fort Riley and Pottawatomie County. All federal funds are involved. The Commissioners approved the $874,161 request for FY 2018.

County Counselor Clancy Holeman presented a request for a fence viewing. Kansas Statutes require that the board of county commissioners shall act as “fence viewers” upon request. The Commissioners asked Holeman to find an agreeable time involving all the Commissioners and parties involved.

The Director of the Riley County Museum, Cheryl Collins, encouraged people to attend a presentation by Allana Saenger Parker, “Summer Outside the City: Eureka Lake Resort”. The lake once existed about where the Flint Hills Job Corps is now. It involved an amusement park and resort that attracted tourists from as far away as Chicago. Parker will speak at 7:00 p.m. at the Manhattan Public Library on Wednesday, June 28.

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Riley County Law Board, June 19, 2017

Observer: Greg Wurst

The Riley County Law Board met at noon on Monday, June 19.
There were general comments on a Manhattan Mercury editorial which stated that the RCPD was not timely in responding to their requests for information. The gist was that the RCPD had to work at it’s own pace and was not responsible for commenting before the Mercury press time.

There was no public comment on the proposed 2018 budget which was passed.

There was a 30 minute executive session.

Captain Schoen reported that Coplogic software has been tried and is not being used because it was supposed to cut down on paperwork, but it is more important for an officer to respond rather than just make a computer report.
Meeting was adjourned.

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USD 383 Board of Education, June 7, 2017

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Lew Faust, Dir. of Business Services, reported on the school finance bill, which passed both the House and the Senate Monday night.  The bill will need to be evaluated by the Supreme Court to determine if it adequately meets academic needs.  Mr. Faust speculated that there might be issues with the bill, and hopefully, a new deadline will be set that will allow any inadequacies to be addressed.  The bill established the state foundation aid at $4,006 per pupil, which is an increase from the current $3,852 per pupil.  Next year, the state foundation aid will be $4,128, and after that, increases will be based on the Midwest Consumer Price Index.  Other features of the bill included funding for all-day kindergarten, increased funding for at-risk, and increased funding for special education.  Transportation funding saw little change, and virtual education funding was the same.  Determining the enrollment count was more complicated than in the past, and for some programs, funding will be based on the current year’s enrollment instead of the previous year’s, which could result in the state needing to come up with additional funds for a program.  Mr. Faust said the new finance formula feels a lot like the old formula.  Dave Colburn wanted to remind everyone that this happened because of the Supreme Court.

Mr. Faust provided the board with updated information for budget planning.  Health insurance was expected to increase by 7%, which amounts to $315,000.  Overtime decreased by $50,000, which was attributed in part to increased pay for bus drivers, being able to hire enough drivers, and then not needing other staff to drive overtime.  The general fund budget authority was projected to increase by $2.5 million, the supplemental fund was projected to increase by $538,000, and the cost of living authority was projected as $785,000.  Leah Fliter commented that the board has been complaining about funding, and if the board starts using the additional authority for property tax relief and not for the classroom, she will complain.

The board received an annual report on district health services.  Of the school population, 88% of students received health services, and there were 71,199 visits to school nurses.  The board received a report on MHS athletics and activities, with 69% of students participating in an activity.  There had been an effort the past year to get more freshmen involved.  The board was also provided with reports on early childhood programs and professional development and collaboration.

The board approved adopting curriculum for early learning programs, the purchase of anti-virus computer software ($47,522), and the purchase of theatrical lighting for Rezac Auditorium at MHS ($75,500).

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Riley County Commission, May 22 and May 25, 2017

Riley County Commission May 22, 2017

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Wells, Rodriguez and Wilson present, Wells chair.

During the open comment period Commissioner Wells expressed frustration at recent remarks made by Representative Ron Highland that Wells felt downplayed the serious fiscal situation now facing the State.  He and Commissioner Rodriguez spoke against any plans to raise State funds by increasing the cost of utilities.  Wells said the State should face the funding problems for schools openly and fairly, not by imposing hidden burdens on poor and elderly persons by taxing basic utilities such as gas and electric services.

Pat Collins, Emergency Management Director, said Riley County Fire District #1 just completed a classification audit from the Insurance Services Organization.  The ISO evaluates municipal fire protection efforts in communities throughout the country.

According to Collins the report was mostly positive.  All but four stations received an upgrade in status.  Ashland, Peach Grove, Mayday and parts of Hunters Island, however, were downgraded.

A legislative report presented by County Counselor Clancy Holeman essentially indicated most work remains on hold until the questions of funding for schools and the basic State budget are resolved.

County Commission May 25, 2017

Commissioners Wells, Rodriguez and Wilson present, Wells chair.

Commissioners approved a resolution reappointing the County Appraiser.

Craig Cox, Assistant County Attorney, asked Commissioners to approve or disapprove an agreement to accept Via Christi’s proposed increase in management fees pertaining to ambulance services. Via Christi allowed the Board until May 30, 2017, to either continue the current arrangement of ambulance operations or accept a termination date effective December 1, 2017.

The Commissioners agreed to send a letter to Via Christi accepting the services termination date as of midnight November 30, 2017.  Most likely the ambulance staff at the hospital will move over and become County employees.   It is estimated the change will result in $200,000 or more in savings to the County.

Commissioners approved a Health Department request to submit a letter to the Caroline Peine  Charitable Foundation for a grant to develop a quality improvement program to support and train family child care providers.  The Commissioners approved the request.

Kevin Howser, IT/GIS Director, said search and rescue operations are being utilized in locating Little  Apple bicycles.   The project is being used for training the search and rescue operators.

Country Stampede will be held June 22 through 24.

The 29th annual Garden Tour is scheduled for Sunday June 11.

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Riley County Commission, April 24, 2017 and April 27, 2017

Riley County Commission April 24, 2017

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Wells, Rodriguez and Wilson present, Wells presiding.

Robbin Cole, Director of Pawnee Mental Health Services, said the association of community mental health providers still has funding requests pending when the Legislature returns.  Of particular concern is getting the 4% cuts in Medicaid reimbursements restored to previous levels.

Other concerns involve the lack of adequate crisis care at community levels.  Local crisis centers would reduce the problems of mentally ill persons winding up in jails or in regular hospitals not prepared to deal with mental health treatment.  Ossawatomie State Hospital still has not met  federal re-certification requirements.  A major problem for the hospital is lack of qualified staff.  Kansas continues to look into the possibility of privatization.

Jennifer Green, Health Department Director, said the Department has prepared a letter of request for funds available through the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation Deihl Fund.  The amount requested is $289,226.58 for a three year grant to provide health services to USD 383 students living in families without stable housing.  She said homeless youth face significant health issues beyond those of other students.  The grant funds would provide for a full time nurse, a Spanish language interpreter and transportation costs.  The Commission voted to submit the grant proposal.

It was announced that the new security requirements at the Courthouse begin today.  The east entrance is the only entrance.  South and west doors will be used as exits only.


 Riley County Commission April 27, 2017

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Rodriguez and Wilson present, Wells joined the meeting at 10:50.

County Counselor Clancy Holeman reported that a draft for an interlocal agreement to allow County law enforcement to use Range 27 at Ft. Riley for firearms training has been developed and is ready to submit to the Attorney General for informal review.

Kevin Howser, IT/GIS Director, said his office is continuing to inform County staff about safe security measures to guard against malware and viruses.  He is looking into the possibility of expanding the Geographic Information System as WIFI becomes more available in the community.

Shelly Williams, Community Corrections Director, described the lengthy process of preparing the agency’s 125 page plan required for submission to the Legislature.  The Governor’s budget recommendation is for 8% lower funding for community corrections.  She also presented a budget for a Behavioral Health Grant designed to reduce recidivism.  The Commission approved both applications.


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