USD 363 approves laptop initiative


Proposed district mill levy would remain relatively flat.

Proposed district mill levy would remain relatively flat.


HOLCOMB — The Holcomb USD 363 Board of Education on Monday approved purchasing 165 laptop computers for students as part of a Chrome Book pilot project.

The computers, which the district hopes to receive in August, will go to fifth-graders at Holcomb Elementary School and to English Language Arts students at Holcomb Middle School, USD 363 Superintendent Jean Rush said. Laptops also will go to board members, so paperless meetings can be held. Total cost for the laptops is about $48,675.

District Technology Director Randy Ackerman said the computers will have a year warranty.

Board members also set 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 as the time and date for the 2013-14 budget hearing. Board members decided to keep the mill levy relatively flat, going to 44.382 from the current 44.385.

Total budget for 2012-13, including the general fund, local option budget, capital outlay and bond and interest, was $7.3 million, Rush said. The proposed 2013-14 budget is comparable, she said. The budget must be certified on Aug. 25.

An open house for Holcomb Elementary School, which is undergoing renovations, will be scheduled in August just before school starts. Administrators said sheetrock, plumbing and cabinets are in and classrooms are done.

Restrooms on the north end are finished, as well, but lockers still need to be installed, Rush said.

During Monday's meeting, the board also reelected President Tom Miller and Vice President Mary Ann Bennett.

The board approved going with Preferred Health as its insurer and staying with Nationwide Dental. Preferred Health offered a 6 percent reduction in employee premiums. The current carrier, United Healthcare, had a 22 percent increase.

The Garden City Telegram was chosen as the official newspaper, and First National Bank of Garden City and First National Bank of Holcomb were chosen as the district depositories.

Rush and representatives from each campus, plus a special education representative, head to Topeka today for leadership training. They are scheduled to return Thursday.

Rush said they will be working with Kansas Department of Education staff on the topics of student assessment, achievement and accreditation, in addition to Annual Measurable Objectives, a program to replace federal Adequate Yearly Progress, which was part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. AYP measured how every district nationwide performed academically based on standardized tests.

The state received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to use AMOs.

AMOs are goals that states set each year to define a minimum percentage of students who must meet or exceed standards on academic assessments. Each state's AMOs are applied consistently throughout the state for all public schools, districts, and subgroups of students. All students must be proficient in reading/language arts and mathematics by 2013-14, according to the U.S. Department of Education website.

Rush said she and school district members also will attend a state board of education meeting today.

The next Holcomb Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Aug. 12.

The Holcomb USD 363 Board of Education took the following action on Monday night:

* Hired Amy Long as first grade teacher for Wiley Elementary School, and Alisha Wilcox as Holcomb Middle School secretary.

* The board also approved spring sports coaches for Holcomb High

School for the 2013-14 school year, many of whom are returning. They


head high school boys track, Lindall Cox; head high school girls

track, Amy Wickwar; assistant high school boys/girls track, Michelle

Baier; assistant high school boys/girls track, Jay Edwards; assistant

high school boys/girls track, Karen Nonhoff; head baseball, Todd

VanCleave; assistant baseball, Chad Novack; head softball, Jennifer

Barrett; assistant softball, Paul Martinez; assistant softball, Tim

Parker; head boys golf, Tom Hawkins; assistant boys golf, Scott Stegman.

* Board members discussed the FFA Greenhouse Project. The goal is to

construct a 30- by 60-foot greenhouse at Holcomb High School to serve as

an educational hands-on, learning lab environment for kindergarten

through 12th-grade students.

Creation of the greenhouse will promote agriculture and increase

agricultural awareness within the school and community. The greenhouse

will provide a single, on-site location where FFA members can teach

elementary and middle school students about plant food production and

where it comes from, according to information from the district.

Students also would learn how to grow everything from seeds, how to

transplant them and then market the plants.

The Partners in Active Learning Support program will focus on the

connection of food to agriculture. Student demographics indicate only 10

to 15 percent of USD 363's students live on farms. Because the economy

is dependent on agriculture in western Kansas, it is important to

educate students about farming practices and how they enhance the area

in which they live, according to the district.

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