Riley County Commission, February 27, 2017

Riley County Commission February 27, 2017

Observer:  Joan Strickler

Commissioners Wells, Rodriguez and Wilson present, Wells presiding.
Commissioner Wells expressed the opinion that Kansas counties should consider legal action against the State for loss of local mill levy funds. Locally raised county taxes are required to be sent to the State but only part of the funds raised are returned to that county. Wells also questioned the proposed increase in gasoline taxes because the State possibly could use those funds for other purposes than highway improvements.
A report from the Kansas Association of Counties noted the Legislature has completed turn around in that bills considered in one house of the Legislature must be moved to the other. There are, however, certain committees which can continue to introduce bills such as the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. The Legislature will return to Topeka on March 5.
Cheryl Collins, director of the Riley County Historical Museum, said the Museum will showcase eight National History Day exhibits from Sunday March 5 through Sunday March 12. The exhibits were prepared by sixth grade students from Woodrow Wilson and Marlatt schools under the direction of U.S.D. 383 teacher, Terry Healy.

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U.S. Agriculture Bill Hearing, February 23, 2017

Notes from the 2018 Agriculture Bill Hearing in Manhattan, KS Feb 23, 2017

Observer:  Karen Hummel

The meeting was chaired by Senators Pat Roberts (R Kansas) and Debbie Stabenow (D Michigan).

First remarks were given by KSU President Myers, Congressman Roger Marshall (R Kansas) and Jackie McClaskey (Kansas Secretary of Agriculture). Myers and Marshall remarks were mainly welcoming.  Marshall stressed focus on trade and nutrition.  McClaskey urged focus on a reliable safety net, reasonable regulations and conservation rules.

Roberts set the context – that prices for agriculture products were high during the crafting of the 2014 farm bill.  Prices have fallen and are low now. Stabenow stated that the number of persons receiving SNAP (supplemental nutrition funds) dropped by nearly 3 and a half million since the 2014 farm bill was enacted, due to people finding jobs.  (My notes indicate she said it was a savings of $8 billion.  According to Wikipedia, it resulted in a 9 billion dollar reduction in spending on the program. I’m not sure if there was a re-definition of eligibility requirements during that timespan.) Stabenow’s view is that a safety net is needed for farmers as well as low income households.

The panel members were introduced in two groups. Each panelist was instructed to speak for no longer than three minutes.  This was followed by a few questions from Roberts and Stabenow.

The first panel consisted of producers.

Panelists were:

David Clawson, Kansas Livestock Association. He asked for value-based marketing programs.  He highlighted the risks of provisions that would restrict ranchers’ freedom of choice in how cattle are marketed, specifically the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) interim final rule on competitive injury. The rule has been opposed by the majority of cattle producers since it was first introduced in 2010.

Linda Foster, Dairy Producers.  The Dairy Market Protection Program is a flexible program that allows a dairy operator to self-select coverage options to protect the farm against declines in national average production margins. Different coverage options reflect a producer’s ability to protect different margin levels (from $4 to $8 per hundredweight) and different coverage percentages (from 25% to 90%). Linda said that the Margin Protection Program no longer works, because the levels are set such that it never kicks in, so farmers are not signing up for it.  She says the levels need to be revised and that we should reinstate 2% milk in school lunches.

Amy Franz, Kansas Farm Bureau. Amy said the EQIP program is working to help farmers in much-needed conservation efforts.  EQIP stands for Environmental Quality Incentives Program.  Financial assistance payments through EQIP are made to eligible producers, to implement approved conservation practices on eligible land or to help producers develop Conservation Activity Plans (CAP) to address specific land use issues. Payments are made on completed practices or activities identified in an EQIP contract that meet NRCS standards. Payment rates are set each fiscal year and are attached to the EQIP contract when it is approved.  Payment rates for each conservation practice can be found at each NRCS State Programs website. Amy stated that restrictions on spraying may force growers to sell their rigs and rely on commercial sprayers.

Lucas Highman, Soybean Association. Farm prices are down.  Help is needed to protect commodity prices.

Tom Lahey, Kansas Cotton Association. 75% of Kansas cotton is exported.  Expand foreign markets.

Kent Moore, Corn growers.  Stressed importance of crop insurance.  Called for strengthening the Market Access Program (MAP) grants, offered through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

(Observer’s note:  He did not mention the role of water and the decline of the Ogallala aquifer due to corn production.)

Cameron Peirce, Sunflower Commission. Crop insurance important. Sunflowers are a no-till crop.

Chuck Springer, Pork Producers. Establish a Foot & Mouth Disease vaccine bank.

Kent Winter, Sorghum Producers. The ability to get bank loans depends on having crop insurance and commodity price guarantees.  The sugar cane aphid has become an infestation in Kansas.

Kenneth Wood, Wheat Growers. Prices are down, costs are rising.  50% of Kansas wheat is exported.  Need to protect and expand export markets.  Asked for clarification of WOTUS (Waters of the US, an EPA guideline concerning enforcement of the Clean Water Act for upstream tributaries.  There has been ambiguity and animosity associated with this bill.  Producers seemed to think it might be applied to dry creek beds and standing water in fields. No clarification was provided at this meeting.)

The panel agreed that EQIP(Environmental Quality Incentives Program) and CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program) are working, as well as CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) are working.

The second panel consisted of representatives of organizations that support producers.  They were:

Shane Haines, First National Bank. Need to raise lending limits.  Farmers do not receive payments in the same year as the market year.  This results in difficult bookkeeping.

Catherine Moyer, Pioneer Communications (rural broadband).  Continue to support RUS(Rural Utilities Service) and Broadband loan programs.

Kathy O’Brien, Kansas Electric Cooperatives. The RUS loan program is effective.  It needs to be extended into the 2018 bill.  This is important to develop rural Kansas.

Gina Ott, Farm Credit Corporation. The bottom 15 – 20% of producers are suffering.  Crop insurance is critical.

Derek Piney, Kansas Grain & Feed Association. Ethanol producers want to keep the renewable fuel standard.

Greg Ruley, Agronomics Coop Council. Look at the range of tillage options available now, and consider them in drafting the bill: no till, limited till, new conservation methods.  Look at credit options.

Clay Scott, Water Council. The water infrastructure in the state is aging and prone to failure.  This needs to be addressed. Policy changes are needed with regard to water.  Sen. Roberts stated he had recently toured water facilities in Israel.

Cherise Tieben, Dodge City manager. In 2008, Dodge City faced a housing crisis, a lack of affordable housing for laborers. The USDA guaranteed loan program for rural development provided funds to solve the problem.

That’s all.

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Riley County Commission February 23, 2017

Riley County Commission February 23, 2017

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Wells, Rodriguez and Wilson present, Wells chair.

Commissioner Wells expressed his opinion that the failure of the Kansas Senate to override the Governor’s veto of the tax bill resulted from concerns about difficulties that would result in re-configuring budgets and expenditures already incurred.  That is due to the bill’s being back dated to the first of the year.  He suggested a similar bill, which would go into effect next July 1, might more likely be able to override a Governor’s veto.

Deputy County Counselor Craig Cox reported on court actions underway pertaining to unpaid taxes for the years 2011 and 2012.  The petition filed involves about $1 million in delinquent taxes.  Approximately one half of that amount belongs to one property owner.

Health Department Director Jennifer Green said her agency was looking into the new mumps cases recently appearing in Manhattan.

Green also asked the Commissioners to sign a letter of approval in support of the Health Department’s grant request to the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation to fund breast feeding assistance for new mothers.  Commissioner Wilson moved to approve the request, motion passed.

Pat Collins, Emergency Management Director, gave an extensive presentation on the emergency radio system needs and requirements of the County.  The current system is out of date and experiencing numerous problems.  Messages are often so garbled they cannot be understood.  At times calls for assistance cannot get through.

A committee formed of representatives of the various emergency service providers in the County has been studying two possible options to replace the existing system.  They would like to have the Commissioners’ approval to pursue further negotiations with one of the two providers.  Commissioner Rodriguez offered a motion to pursue further negotiations with the Harris Company.  Motion approved.

Commissioner Wells said Counties should look into the system the State initiated in requiring that funds locally raised by counties and school boards be sent to the State before being returned to those counties and schools.   Often the locally raised mil levy funds returned are less than those sent.  He suggested counties might want to seek a legal opinion in the matter.

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USD 383 Board of Education, Feb. 15, 2017

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Lew Faust, Dir. of Business Services, provided the board with an update on legislation affecting school funding.  The House had passed a tax bill, but the governor has said he won’t sign it.  The tax bill would roll back most of the 2012 tax cuts and would raise almost $1 billion over a two-year period.  Senate bill S.B. 27, which would have resulted in a 5% cut to districts, was not debated on the floor.  If that bill had advanced, it would have meant a reduction in funding to USD 383 of $1,468,000.

House bill H. B. 2270 addresses K-12 funding and is very similar to the old finance formula.  The bill would provide funding for all-day kindergarten (current funding is for half-day).  “Foundation state aid” would replace the term “base state aid” and would increase over a period of four years to $4,895 per pupil (current base per pupil funding is $3,852), and then increases after that would be based on the Midwest Consumer Price Index.  Transportation funding would be different.  Currently, districts are reimbursed for transporting students who live more than two-and-a-half miles from school, and with the new formula, districts can choose to transport students who live closer, but districts will be  funded only for the number of students who are actually bused.  There will be some changes in virtual school funding and at-risk.  If the proposed formula were applied as presented, USD 383 would receive $3.9 million more in state funding.  In order to fund the proposed formula, $309 million in state funds would be needed, so the question is how will the state fund the formula

Enrollment numbers used for the finance formula would be the previous year’s enrollment, so there would be no surprises about the total number of students.  Districts impacted by the military would still have the second military count date, but funding would be based on the net number of students as opposed to using the number of new military students to the district.

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Riley County Commissioners Meeting for February 6, 2017

Report on the Board of Riley County Commissioners Meeting for February 6, 2017

Observer:  Bill Shenk-Hamlin

The following topics were covered.

Topics of the Business Meeting

  1. Pawnee Mental Health Services contract was unanamously approved without comment. The cost of the contract for one year is $257,400.
  2. CASA requested the use of the plaza area near the courthouse to celebrate childhood abuse prevention month on April 7, 2017. The request was unanimously approved without comment.
  3. Rich Vargo asked the commission to make 3 corrections in real estate taxes for three property owners. It was unanimously approved.
  4. Rich Vargo asked the commission to make 3 personnel changes (i.e., promotions or step changes) for employees of Riley County. Commissioners unanimously approved the changes.
  5. The minutes of the Feb 2, 2017 meeting were approved after Ben Wilson requested two changes in the wording of the minutes.

 

Press Conference Topics

 

  1. Clancy Holeman briefly discussed two bills pending in the State legislature that could have an impact on Manhattan.
    1. The State is considering a bill that will restrict the amount of revenue that municipalities can collect from residents for trash removal, street sweeping, etc. Opposition to the bill is likely to squelch it.
    2. The State is considering a Tort Liability Exemption for Counties for Lawsuits Based on County Employee Concealed Carry of Handguns that states that public employees are liable for their handguns when they are “not being carried in the course and scope of their employment.”
  2. Gina Scroggs from Downtown Manhattan told the commission that a 5-mile walk/run is being planned to benefit breast cancer research. Downtown Manhattan is planning the event with Johnson Cancer Research Center on campus.
  3. Captain Kyle from RCPD reported that, although certain types of crimes in Manhattan were up, others were down while comparing 2016 to 2015. Violent crime and property crime were up, while burglary, motor vehicle theft, DUI arrests, and accidents were down. This has given RCPD time to deal with other types of crime. In addition, RCPD has decided to not use the “Hotel Rule” when reporting crime. The Hotel Rule is a rule about how to count crimes that are related to each other. For example, if someone steals money from several hotel rooms. Using the Hotel Rule, the separate thefts are counted as one because the same person committed the theft. Now, each theft is counted separately. The change in reporting will have the effect of making the crime rate appear to spike when, in fact, it has actually been stable.
  4. Bids were taken on a spray truck that will cost in and around $36,000.
  5. Greg McClure told the commissioners that a Winter Ranch Management seminar will be held on February 15th in Olsburg, Kansas. In addition, a succession planning and communication seminar will be held at the Riley County Public Works Facility on February 17th.
  6. Leon Hobson discussed two transportation projects that the County wants to fulfill. The first extends K-18 to US 24, called the K-113 corridor. The study for the project will cost $395,000. Of that amount, KDOT will be responsible for $300,000, while Manhattan will “pony up” the remaining sum. The second project is a widening of a portion of Marlatt and Denison Avenues. The widening will occur from the fire station on Denison to Marlatt, and from Marlatt in both directions east and west for a segment of street bearing on the intersection. The County will contact K-State to detemine whether K-State can contribute to the project. Hobson believes that increased traffic from NBAF and the newly constructed apartment complexes will degrade the the affected intersections. So he wants to resolve the issue before it becomes a major problem.
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RILEY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY COUNCIL, January 25, 2017

RILEY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT                                                                     PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY COUNCIL

25January2017

Observer: Helen C. Estes

The Riley County Health Department Public Health Advisory Council (PHAC) met as scheduled.  The monthly meeting was called to order by Ginny Barnard.  All RCHDPHAC Board members were introduced as this meeting marks the beginning of new terms for four individuals.

The first order of business for PHAC was to elect a Chairperson and Co-chairperson for the upcoming year.  Adam Bowen was elected as the Chairperson and Ginny Barnard as the Co-chairperson.

Director’s Report:  (Given by Jennifer Green, RCHD Director.)

  1.  New hires were announced including a nursing position @ RCHD & a part-time breast feeding counselor for a WIC position.
  2.  This is a busy time of the year as many important applications for grants/funding must be completed & submitted by March, 2017. Included in these grants are KDHE grants, two different Manhattan grants, a Kaplan grant, and a mental health grant suggested by board member, Robbin Cole.
  3.  Jennifer is in the process of wo
  4.  New hires were announced including a nursing position @ RCHD & a part-time breast feeding counselor for a WIC position.
  5.  This is a busy time of the year as many important applications for grants/funding must be completed & submitted by March, 2017. Included in these grants are KDHE grants, two different Manhattan grants, a Kaplan grant, and a mental health grant suggested by board member, Robbin Cole.
  6.  Jennifer is in the process of working on the Annual Report.
  7.  Jennifer used the remaining time to report on the Strategic Plan that has been a work-in-progress for the past year. She provided a packet of this overview to each PHAC member.  I didn’t receive these printed materials but will summarize much of what was presented.  This has been presented in community meeting & to the BOH as it’s developing
  8. working on the Annual Report.
  9.  Jennifer used the remaining time to report on the Strategic Plan that has been a work-in-progress for the past year. She provided a packet of this overview to each PHAC member.  I didn’t receive these printed materials but will summarize much of what was presented.  This has been presented in community meeting & to the BOH as its development has occurred.  Once it’s in its finalized form, it will again be presented to the BOH as the final phase of Implementation will begin.  She estimates that it take 3 years to get to this point.

The following was summarized:  PHAB sets the requirements for the Strategic Plan.  These are—

  1. Community Health Assessment
  2. Community Health Improvement Plan
  3. Organizational Strategic Plan (This is the packet distributed today.)
  4. Implementation of the Plan (This is the last component.)

The mission, vision, & values were presented & are elaborated in the packet.

Strategic priorities were identified.

  •               Promote & Protect Health
  •               Health promotion & disease prevention
  •               Communicable disease control
  •               Environmental health
  •               Maternal, family & child health
  •               Access to & linkages with clinical care
  •               Use evidence-based practices

Key Objectives

  •        By December, 2017:  Develop a Community Health Plan
  •        By December, 2018:  Develop an electronic database of community health & social services in the area
  •        By December, 2018:  Format all new programs using evidence-based practices
  •        By December, 2018:  Determine the number of programs remaining to be  programmed with evidence-based outcomes

Community Outreach

There were 3 specific goals here & are elaborated in the packet but time was past adjournment.  Jennifer emphasized that public involvement is considered extremely important & will be important to this process.

Goals will state specific numbers of public to be involved.

Strategic Sustainability & Quality

There were 2 goal topics in this category.  One of these referred to—Integrate continuous quality improvement.  This section

also included goals to upgrade the current electronic record system by 2019.  It was noted that additional funding will be needed to accomplish this.

The packet includes specific dates for when RCHD will actually apply for accreditation from PHAB.  This includes a date for

Submission of the application as well as when the actual accreditation visit will be.

Note:  PHAB is a non-partisan, non-profit organization.

Additional goals presented related to the staffing, employee satisfaction, retention, etc.

An announcement was made regarding 25February2017 @ First United Methodist Church.  Manhattan Poverty Simulation will take place.  The public is encouraged to participate.

The meeting was adjourned @ 5:05 p.m.

The next meeting is scheduled for 22February2017

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Riley County Commission, January 26, 2017

Riley County Commission

January 26, 2017

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Wells, Rodriguez and Wilson present, Wells chair.

Assistant County Attorney Craig Cox updated the Commissioners on his work.  Benefit districts have expanded as property owners who originally refused to participate have changed their minds as the benefits of belonging become apparent.  Cox updated the Commissioners on code enforcement and delinquent tax actions.

The Commissioners discussed the goals they recommend setting for the current year. Commissioner Wells noted concerns about moving the ambulance services to the fire department location due to, what he sees as, unfair demands of K-State attorneys and Foundation staff during negotiations.  Wells said there is no sense in moving emergency services to a location where they could be kicked out after 12 months.  He said he is requesting a meeting with K-State’s president to clarify matters.

Commissioner Wilson listed several goals he sees for the current year.  The first would be to finalize arrangements for the police to use the Fort Riley shooting range in their training exercises.  He also would like the County to look into the advisability of running the ambulance services on its own rather than through a contract with Via Christi Hospital.  He added that he felt it would be wise to look into possible savings through reviewing fleet replacement practices of the County.

Commissioner Wells said the office space needs of the County still remain to be addressed.

It was mentioned that decisions about emergency radio communications must also made.

Commissioner Rodriguez said he still believes all Commissioners should receive the same pay.  After extensive discussion Commissioner Rodriguez offered a motion to set a uniform salary for all Commissioners at (approximately) $43000 for 2017.  Wells seconded the motion.  Rodriguez and Wells voted yes, Wilson no.  Motion passed

 

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USD 383 Board of Education, Jan. 18, 2016

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Lew Faust, Dir. of Business Services, provided the board with information regarding the governor’s proposal for school funding.  The proposal called for freezing KPERS at 2016 levels and delaying payments, which amounts to an $89 million deficit.  The balance of $13 million in the extraordinary needs fund (which is a fund created to help districts experiencing hardships under the block grant funding) will be kept by the state instead of being distributed to school districts.  The final state aid payment will be delayed again this year.  Funding plans for 2018-19 call for a continued freeze of KPERS, districts will be asked to contribute to the extraordinary needs fund but no funds will be disbursed, general state aid will be reduced by $47.2 million statewide, and the state will keep any additional revenue resulting from increased valuations and generated by the state required 20 mills.  Eric Reid, Asst. Superintendent, added that the block grant funding was originally intended to last two years while the Legislature worked on a new formula, but no progress has been made, so it’s looking like block grants will continue for another year.  Board member Aaron Estabrook commented that it was ironic that the extraordinary needs fund was created to help struggling districts, and now it’s being used to help the state’s budget.  Leah Fliter added that there are comments floating around to the effect of state funding is at the highest level it’s ever been, but operating funds for districts are not, they have declined, and they have lagged behind the rate of inflation almost every year.

The board received a report on Career and Technical Education (CTE).  The district offers 10 clusters and 17 pathways, and the pathways are focused on what makes sense for our community.  Last year, 1,261 students were enrolled in at least one CTE course, and the majority enrolled in more than one.  The program is in the process of working on a several-tiered process for job-shadowing in the Manhattan community.

Board members discussed committee appointments to the MHS mascot committee. The committee will include MHS students, faculty, representatives from both sides of the issue, district administration, and school board members.  Committee members are as follows:  Zach Bergeron, Laverne Bitsie-Baldwin, Matt Davis, Elizabeth Fiser-Gaume, Bill Hsu, Elke Lorenz, Mike Matson, Kate Moore, Maggie Morgan, Alex Red Corn, Mike Smith, and Doug Stigge.  Dr. Marvin Wade, Superintendent, will serve as chair.  The board selected Dave Colburn and Curt Herrman to serve as the board’s representatives with Aaron Estabrook as the alternate.  All of the committee’s meetings will be open to the public.

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USD 383 Board of Education, Jan. 4, 2017

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

The board was provided with an update by BG Consultants, which is the firm that was hired to help the district with long-range facility planning.  The consultants are in the information gathering and analysis phase of the planning process.  The consultants have collected information on the age and condition of facilities, identified areas where growth is occurring, looked at the district’s criteria for class sizes, and met with school Site Councils to ask them what are their greatest challenges to learning and what things represent the spirit of their school that should be maintained.  District-wide trends emerged from the information gathering, including safety and security needs, space and program needs, technology, special education, and issues specific to a site.  Safety and security needs included creating secure entrances, enhancing security, and eliminating indoor-outdoor transitions, such as students traveling to and from classroom trailers.  Space and program needs included having adequate space for elective subjects because growth has challenged the ability to maintain spaces for electives. For special education, many schools need to adapt the spaces they have to meet current teaching methods.

The consultants had looked at building capacities and reported that four elementary schools are over capacity, one is at capacity, and three are slightly below capacity, which essentially means all of the elementary schools are at capacity.  If the portable classroom trailers are no longer used, the capacity issue becomes even more critical.  The middle schools were both below capacity.  MHS East Campus is at 55% capacity, and MHS West Campus is at 79% capacity.

BG Consultants will start developing options to consider in the spring, and the decision phase will occur in the summer.  There will be public input opportunities during the planning process.

Board member Pat Hudgins reported on the status of the mascot committee.  Citizens who are interested in serving on the committee were encouraged to submit their names for consideration (the deadline was Jan. 5).  Board members will have the opportunity to provide input about potential committee members, and committee members will be announced at the Jan. 18 meeting.

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USD 383 Board of Education, Dec. 7, 2017

Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

The board held a discussion about the MHS mascot.  Marcia Rozell, board president, began the discussion by saying she was thankful for how the public input forum had gone on Nov. 30.

Dave Colburn started the discussion by saying the board was stuck in the middle of a national debate, and they can’t solve all of it, but maybe the board can do something locally.  He said that advocates for re-imaging the mascot are not all KSU faculty, as had been claimed by some, and he said he had received many email from a variety of people who supported change.  He said he was disappointed by some who have implied that a future bond issue would be held hostage if a mascot vote didn’t go the right way, meaning people have said they won’t support a future bond election if the mascot is retired.  Mr. Colburn said it would be wrong to hold hostage a bond election, which may not come up for some time and may be a different board of education by then.  He commented that student safety and suicides are a major concern.  He said that there are two ways that people are looking at the issue:  advocates for retaining the mascot have a micro view and only see Coach Prentup, who the Indian mascot is claimed to honor, and advocates for re-imaging see the macro view and the larger problems with stereotypes.  He said we need to come out of this united for our kids’ sake, and we’ve seen on the national level that a vote alone doesn’t solve division.  Mr. Colburn said he can’t support changing the mascot because of the costs associated with doing so, because we don’t know what would replace it, and because he thinks there’s a responsibility to honor Coach Prentup.  But, he said he also can’t support the status quo and said many people have contacted him urging the board to find the middle ground.  Mr. Colburn proposed establishing a committee that would include students and administrators that would be charged with four tasks as follows:  1. To figure out a better way to honor Frank Prentup; 2. To create an educational program to know more about Native American culture; 3. To consider a mascot that kids can have fun with that has nothing to do with the Indian name and image; and 4. To determine what would be the true costs to change the name and the image and what the timeline might be.  He concluded by saying the Indian name and image have to be retained, and the school district can be a model for the whole country with people coming together to work on the issue.

Aaron Estabrook had talked to Native Americans on both sides of the issue and was surprised with how willing they are to work on a solution, and he thought maybe the board had missed a step by not doing more with Native Americans.  He said he found it hard to vote on the issue when he doesn’t know what the costs are and when there isn’t a replacement plan for the mascot.  For those who might say that Mr. Colburn’s committee suggestion just pushes the issue further down the path, Mr. Estabrook said the district has had success in the past with committees helping with difficult issues.

Darell Edie said he agreed with Mr. Colburn on several points.  He would like to see a good educational program with Native Americans.  He planned to vote to maintain the mascot because he didn’t want to renege on something again with Native Americans, meaning the commitment to honor Coach Prentup.  He said many Kansas high schools and Haskell Indian Nations University use Indian mascots, and many towns, rivers, and the state itself use Indian words.

Pat Hudgins said she had been asked if she was a “born here,” “raised here,” or a “just lives here,” and thought it was a shame that some want to treat people differently depending on their answer to the question.  People treat you differently depending on the space you occupy.  She said the issue can’t be split down the middle, and the worst time to settle an argument is when people are still emotional about it, which makes the decision tough.  She said social justice cries out as the way to change the world for education.  She’d thought about civil rights and the Civil Rights Movement and said the board needs to make a trip to the Brown v. the Board of Education site in Topeka.  With Brown v. Board, it came about because someone was brave enough to break the mold, and change happens as a series of tiny changes.  Ms. Hudgins had thought about the cost and said things like ADA compliance didn’t change overnight, but there was a deadline to meet, and she thought the change could be phased in slowly without a deadline to meet.  She said “where all can learn” is part of the district’s mission statement, and the mission doesn’t say anything about athletics.  She said that “re-image” to her said to look at it differently — not necessarily retire or change — because things have changed in the 75 years since the Indian mascot was adopted.  She said when she was a little girl, she had been called “Negro,” and there’s something in a name.  They’re asking to not be called the name, and it bothers some such that they can’t learn.  Ms. Hudgins said “re-image” meant to her let’s compromise and figure out a way.  Fifteen years ago when the mascot issue was last formally discussed, the board made promises that didn’t happen, so if the board started a process, she didn’t want to see it die in 5-6 months and expressed a lack of confidence that a committee would work.  She would like to see something named for Coach Prentup to keep the family’s legacy going.  She concluded with saying the board has to find the political courage to make a change for a better tomorrow.

Leah Fliter said the board needs to retire the mascot and the image.  She said she understands why it was created, but it’s no longer appropriate to use an ethnic group as a symbol or mascot, especially when the majority of the student body is not part of the ethnic group and when the group was almost wiped out.  We can’t say the same things about mascots like Vikings, Swedes, devils, etc.  The tomahawk chop and the middle school Papoose mascot were phased out, which shows the mascot is problematic.  She realized that changing the mascot would cause pain to the Prentup family, and she would like to see him honored in some other way.  She would like to see the painting and mosaic installed in a place of honor with a photo of Coach Prentup that would explain how the mascot came to be and why it was changed.  She said she realized the cost to change could be significant, but the change could be phased in with athletic uniforms not being replaced until they were scheduled to be replaced.  Ms. Fliter said the real and emotional costs can’t stand in the way of doing what’s best for students, and that’s why she supported retiring the mascot because retaining it is disrespectful, reduces people to a single image, and tells students that changes can’t be made if they’re difficult or unpopular.

Curt Herrman said the Indian is a symbol and represents how Coach Prentup treated kids, and it isn’t a mascot.  He said the Indian is a tribute to a culture that thrived for thousands of years before the Europeans.  He suggested having an orientation for all students.  He said the district should educate about all minority students and shouldn’t lose sight of other groups.  He said that changing the mascot is way too expensive.  He said the high school would have to change the school colors, too, or otherwise people would still wear their Indian-themed gear, so then we’d have to create a police state at the high school about what students can and can’t wear.  Mr. Herrman said he can’t support changing the mascot.

Mr. Estabrook said he had first been approached about the mascot issue about a year ago, and he said he feels there is good faith on both sides of the issue, and it’s time to make constructive changes, but as a responsible and measured change.  Ms. Rozell said she wanted to keep the name “Indians,” and thought a solution might be the situation with the Chiefs.  She said the board needs to move forward and come to some agreement.

Mr. Estabrook moved that “USD 383 create a committee comprised of stakeholders, including but not limited to students, teachers, administrators, representatives of the re-image and retain committees and others as seen fit by the board for four topics: 1. finding an additional way or ways to honor Frank Prentup; 2. developing a teaching program and plan, which educates our students, faculty/staff, and community about Native American history, religion, and culture; 3. explore the creation of a mascot for students to rally around at sporting events which is distinct from the Indian name and image; and 4. establish what the true cost would be and the timeline if the board decided to retire the mascot; and the Indian name and current image shall remain the official name and image of MHS until the committee completes those tasks.”  Mr. Estabrook said as the four tasks are completed, it would become easier to make change decisions than with the limited information the board has now.

Ms. Rozell agreed that it’s hard to retire the mascot without knowing what it would be replaced with.  Mr. Edie thought the board should first vote on a motion to retain or retire the mascot before voting on Mr. Estabrook’s motion.  Mr. Herrman agreed and said he didn’t want a committee to be part of a motion. Mr. Colburn said he supported Mr. Estabrook’s motion.  Ms. Hudgins said she would like to see a timeline associated with the motion because there could be a new board seated by the time a decision is made.  Ms. Rozell suggested forming the committee in Jan. 2017 with a decision from the committee coming to the board by the end of 2017, and Mr. Edie suggested that the committee could make decisions by Sept. 2017.  Mr. Herrman said he felt the board was just kicking the issue a year down the road and will back to the same place in a year, and he preferred to not have it in a motion in order to have more flexibility.  The board discussed various tweaks to the motion and whether or not to include the committee as part of the motion, and Mr. Colburn said including the committee in the motion is an attempt to codify some of this that wasn’t done when the mascot issue was discussed 15 years ago.

The revised motion as read back by the board clerk stated that “USD 383 create a committee team comprised of stakeholders, including students, teachers, administrators, representatives of the two committees and others as seen fit by the board will work on at least the four topics beginning in Jan. 2017: 1. finding a portion of or an entire facility to name for Frank Prentup along with a scholarship; 2. develop a teaching program for students, faculty, and community about Native American history, religion, and culture; 3. explore the creation of a mascot for students to rally around which is distinct from the Indian name and the image; 4. establish what the true costs would be and what the timeline would look like if the name and image were to be retired; the Indian name and current image shall remain the official name and image of MHS.”  The motion read by the board clerk was slightly different than the original motion, notably the original last lines had read “the Indian name and current image shall remain the official name and image of MHS until the committee completes those tasks” and the version the clerk read had omitted “until the committee completes those tasks.”  The board approved the motion 7-0, but it was unclear the precise language of the motion the board had approved.

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