“Gordon has years of experience and has done a great job as the interim, so we look forward to having him as our superintendent.”
Interim Superintendent Gordon Mohn was voted to take on the role of full-time superintendent at the USD 418 Board of Education regular meeting Monday night.
“We’re very pleased that we have a qualified superintendent right here,” said Board President Jeff Johnson. “Gordon has years of experience and has done a great job as the interim, so we look forward to having him as our superintendent.”
Mohn came to McPherson in 2007 after serving as the Hillsboro school district superintendent for 15 years. The board is also looking to appoint a new board member after holding interviews last Monday, but chose to hold the vote until the next meeting when all board members are present.
Soccer field renovations
Board members voted to hire Turf Solutions at the cost of $39,354.20 to improve the soccer practice field at McPherson High School. The project will be funded through capital outlay and a $10,000 donation.
The motion carried 4-1. The dissenting voter was concerned about spending on a large project in the face of budget insecurity during this legislative session. Mohn pointed out that this is a needed improvement for the district as students are currently driving themselves to practice at Grant Sports Complex.
“You could argue that it’s not worth $30,000 for the inconvenience to drive to Grant for practice while other teams have that on site. Those are hard decisions to make. $30,000 from capital outlay won’t keep us from doing other projects and we have a $10,000 grant earmarked for the field,” Mohn said. “You could ask how essential each of these projects are in our capital outlay plan and you’ll have different answers each time.”
The work will be completed in time for practice next fall.
Early Childhood report
Garie Jean Brownrigg, director of the Early Childhood Program, gave the monthly report for the McPherson/Marion County Head Start program and highlighted a few upcoming changes.
New federal guidelines require all Head Start locations to offer full-day programs for the 3- and 4-year-olds. The McPherson classrooms will be able to meet these requirements by the deadline of 2021.
“All-day Head Start is not 3-year-olds going to Kindergarten, it’s a variety of activities that are play-based. They’re eating three good meals, playing outside, learning vocabulary,” Brownrigg said. “It’s not more school, it’s providing more structure for our families. Our parents also have the right to choose not to do a full day.”
The program will start performing home visits and taking applications for next year soon.
Eisenhower Elementary School Principal Chris Allen gave a report on current programs at the school. Allen explained that 97.3 percent of students qualified for positive behavior reward assemblies and other behavior incentives are working well.
“All of our staff have the opportunity to send a parent a ‘Roar Like a Jaguar’ card. The kids really enjoy being selected for the honor,” Allen said. “So far, 185 parents were contacted first semester to relay the positive shout-out for child’s behavior.”
Numerous guest speakers at the school also offer a first-hand look at the C3 Initiative in action.
“We had a class from the high school to come over and read letters they’d written to their fourth-grade self. That tied in our eight keys of excellence,” Allen said. “We’ve also had public servants come to talk about their careers, Ross Janssen and Millie from KWCH, students from McPherson College and a number of veterans on Veterans Day.”
Brownrigg was recognized for earning National Board Certification. This professional certification notes that Brownrigg has advanced knowledge and skills required of an outstanding educator.
“These certificates are called accomplished licenses. A professional license is good for five years and Garie’s will be good for 10 years,” said Angie McDonald, director of teaching and learning. “We’re very proud to have her as part of our district.”
Mohn also noted that January is School Board Recognition Month. The board celebrated with special treats at the meeting.
“I’d like to take a moment to thank each member for their service on this board,” Mohn said. “Our members put a lot of hours into their work.”
McDonald gave a report on research she performed in finding the best policy for using video clips in the classroom. The current policy is outdated, and many districts chose not to have a policy, but leave discretion up to their principals and teachers.
The board discussed a policy of requiring principal review and parental approval for films and media clips, which allows for both films rated by the Motion Picture Association of America and unrated media like YouTube clips or TED talks.
The board approved a number of gifts. The McPherson County Community Foundation gave $300 to after-school programs for elementary-age students, many of which are at Lincoln Elementary School.
A gift of $2,500 was accepted from the Norma J. Tucker Trust to be used for restoration of the art collection and an anonymous donation of $1,000 to support the McPherson Middle School track program.
Community Thanksgiving, Inc. gave a donation of $100 to the fifth grade classes at Eisenhower Elementary School who decorated gift bags for the meal. Pfizer also donated about 630 items to the Hygiene Closet, serving students at the middle and high schools.
The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at the central office.