The Garden City Board of Education unanimously approved to offer the Seal of Biliteracy, which is spearheaded by the Kansas State Department of Education, at Monday's regular meeting. The purpose of this seal is to recognize students who are fluent in two or more languages, English being one of them. This seal would be placed on each student who passes the exam’s transcript.

One of the goals of the biliteracy program is to educate the students and public about this program and to let parents know that they should help their children become proficient in their heritage language as well as English. This seal is expected to help students when they enter the workforce and at college.

Each certificate will indicate the languages the student is proficient in and their level of achievement. There is no curricular required and no funds are required from the students.

Currently, 24 Kansas districts are testing for nine languages, including Latin, Spanish, French, Vietnamese and German. Last year, there were 406 participants in the program. American Sign Language and Japanese were added last year, and this year, Chinese, Tagalog and Lao will be added.

Region 5 districts who acknowledge this seal include Colby, Goodland, Great Bend, Hays and Macksville. The process for obtaining this seal is dictated by the district. The process will be initiated by students.

Garden City Spanish teacher Hermitey Perez-Triana and district coordinator of state and federal programs for Garden City Janie Perkins were on the advisory council for this state-wide project.

Audit Results

Theresa Dasenbrock, CPA of Lewis, Hooper & Dick, gave an overview of the results of last year’s school district audit. Dasenbrook said the mill levy has not kept up with inflation. The mill levy started at 35 mills in 1994 and then dropped to about 20 mills in the early 2000s and has since remained consistent. She reported the budget per pupil is just under $15,000.

Slightly less than 50% of expenditures went toward instruction during 2019. This percentage was similar to the prior year. The other expenses that add to instruction are instructional support staff and health care, which was 14% of total expenses.

State sources for funding for 2019 were at 66%. This is down from 68% from the year before. However, there was a slight increase in federal funding. Funding from taxes was 11%. Health insurance has had a slight increase in expenses.

Total district funds were slightly less than $28.5 million. Capital outlay was up by about $1 million and the contingency reserve stayed pretty steady.

“We’re doing well with the dollars we have,” Dasenbrock said. “No material weaknesses were noted on the audit.”

The reported debt is $91 million in outstanding bonds that were used in the 2010 facilities that were added on, Dasenbrock said. “It pays off in about 15 more years. This is down by $2 million from last year,” she said.

Soccer Fields Officially Named

The board voted to officially name the soccer fields at Charles Stone Intermediate Center and Kenneth Henderson Middle School. The names Garcia Soccer Park and Martin Esquivel Soccer Field at Kenneth Henderson Middle School were approved by the city and the recreation center in 2004, and signs were erected around 2006. The school district was not involved in that process.

The school department’s naming process was not instituted until 2011, so these names had not been voted on in 2004. This vote legitimized the names for the school district of the already named facilities.

Seven members of the Esquivel family were in the audience, and they were happy the vote went through.

A sign had been erected on the field at the middle school in the mid-2000s to commemorate Martin Esquivel. It was recently taken down due to construction, but the sign will be re-erected soon.

Other Updates

Monica Diaz and several teachers gave English Language Arts Curriculum updates. The school system obtained a three-year literacy grant that began last year. The district started a social and emotional advisory committee to help students with topics, including suicide and bullying prevention. The school department is also working toward having students meet the demands of industry who are located the greater Garden City area or who are thinking of coming to the area. By the end of the school year, each school should have trained threat assessment teams. The Long Range Facilities Committee is looking at alternative light bulbs.
The board voted to approve to continue using iPads at the high school. Board president Dana Nanninga wanted more information concerning this issue before the vote and thought more information should be sought. Other board members did not agree.
At the meeting, students from the student government of Edith Scheuerman Elementary School led the Pledge of Allegiance. This was board member Janene Radke’s first meeting.
The school department is starting a tradition of giving one book to each school and recognizing board members on the inside cover of each book. All books will be age-appropriate for each school.

The next board meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 at the Educational Support Center in Garden City.