Geary County Schools USD 475 Board of Education held a meeting on Monday at the Mary E. Devin Center for Education Support.

The meeting began with Superintendent Dr. Reginald Eggleston recognizing Fort Riley Elementary School, Sheridan Elementary School, Junction City Middle School, Grandview Elementary School, Spring Valley Elementary School and Junction City High School’s principals and military Point of Contacts for their work in implementing a pilot of the Military Child Education Coalition’s Purple Star School Program, making Geary County Schools the very first school district in the state of Kansas to do so. Dr. Eggleston will continue recognizing schools at the next Board meeting on Dec. 6.

Dr. Eggleston also recognized Geary County Schools’ Fall 2021 Shining Star Award recipients. This award is given to Geary County Schools staff members who provide exceptional service to or credit upon the school district. The Fall 2021 recipients include Chantay Caron, special education teacher at Morris Hill Elementary School, Jacob McCallister, third-grade teacher at Westwood Elementary School, Laura Thompson, speech-language pathologist at Ware Elementary School, Jamie Williams, eighth-grade math teacher at Junction City Middle School and David Wild, chief operations officer for Geary County Schools USD 475.

The final recognition of the evening was for the district’s nominee for the 2021 Kansas Horizon Award: Kelsey Geerdes, a third-grade teacher at Fort Riley Elementary School. This Kansas State Department of Education award honors exemplary first-year teachers that serve as outstanding representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state.

At the meeting, personnel Services Director Tim Winter introduced retention and recruitment pay in support of the Geary County Schools 2021-2026 Strategic Plan’s Retention and Recruitment Goal. This plan would offer staff retention and recruitment pay for maintaining employment for the 2022-2023 school year, as well as support good attendance of staff for the duration of the 2021-2022 school year.

The Board approved this plan, given it receives approval from the Kansas State Board of Education. If approved, both plans would begin on Jan. 1 for both the COVID-19 retention and recruitment pay, with the COVID-19 retention pay lasting until the end of the school year and the recruitment pay lasting until the end of the school year.

Winter also recommended approval of hiring four permanent substitute teacher positions for the 2021-2022 school year, to assist buildings with unfilled teaching positions related to COVID-19, teacher shortages, leave being taken by teachers and to recruit future Geary County Schools educators. The board approved this addition.

Following Winter’s items, Associate Superintendent Dr. Deb Gustafson and Wild presented to the Board the facility needs to benefit the teaching and learning of students. A few of the options presented were building an Early Childhood Center on the old Junction City High School grounds and sharing the space with the Dorothy Bramlage Public Library, building a Professional Learning Center on the old Junction City High School grounds, relocating sixth graders to H.D. Karns, selling Hauge, Heim and the Larry Dixon Center after construction, leaving Lincoln Elementary School as is, utilizing Franklin Elementary School for alternative programming and considering a new elementary school north of the new Junction City High School as needed.

Gustafson, alongside Director of School Improvement, Intervention and Assessments Kate Stewart and Director of Student Support Services Tom Wesoloski, reviewed the Strategic Plan’s social/emotional, attendance and discipline goals for sixth to 12th grade.

After each Board member gave their general remarks, they recessed to an executive session to discuss the district crisis plans before the meeting was adjourned.

Monday’s meeting can be viewed on the district’s YouTube page. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Mary E. Devin Center for Education Support. The meeting will be live-streamed on the district’s YouTube page.

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