• Last modified 2720 days ago (Oct. 12, 2011)


Audit, school plans dominate Marion school board meeting

Staff writer

Marion-Florence USD 408 Board of Education members received financial audit and school improvement plan reports Monday, and heard an underlying common theme.

Donna Fadenrecht, audit manager for Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk and Loyd, LLC of McPherson, presented the results of the annual independent audit of the district’s financial condition and practices.

“I want to compliment you on your cash management,” Fadenrecht said. “It’s been a rough year, but your cash balances reflect you’ve done a good job.”

Fadenrecht explained that the amount of federal funds received by the district in 2010-11 required an additional step in the audit process this year, requiring her firm to specifically address the unique requirements attached to the management of federal funds.

“We had a couple of minor findings, we discussed them with management, and we’re probably not going to look at them again,” Fadenrecht said, noting the district likely will not be required to undergo another audit of federal funds.

“We look at ways you can improve your operations, what risks are out there, and what management can do to mitigate the risk,” Fadenrecht said.

Fadenrecht reported two items from the regular audit — writing of receipts and scholarship fund tracking — are areas in which district practices should be improved.

“Our scholarship funds were all separate funds,” superintendent Lee Leiker explained. “We’re going to make it one account with individual scholarships handled separately from that account.”

“We’re going to work hard to be timely with all deposits and receipts,” Leiker added.

Board members unanimously accepted the report without question or comment.

Improvement plans

Marion Elementary School principal Justin Wasmuth and teachers Susan Hall and Ginger Becker presented information about strategies the school is using to improve student performance in the areas of reading and math.

“By looking at our Kansas state standards, and by looking over our NWEA, these are the indicators we identified that we were either below 80 percent, or below the state,” Hall said.

Hall and Becker reviewed specific performance standards identified through use of these benchmarks.

The MES improvement plan utilizes a variety of strategies to improve student performance in reading and math, including vocabulary cards, fluency phrases, graphic organizers, research-based curriculum, and Study Island, an Internet-based instructional supplement tailored specifically to the Kansas state standards.

Wasmuth described professional development events scheduled across the year to support staff in implementing the improvement strategies.

Principal Missy Stubenhofer and teachers Jona Neufeld and Bill Darrow presented the improvement plan for Marion Middle School.

Stubenhofer detailed the math performance standards and intervention strategies, and language arts instructor Neufeld presented the reading data.

Darrow presented information on science standards, which he said are not required to be assessed under No Child Left Behind.

“The state requires tests in fourth grade, seventh grade, and tenth grade,” Darrow said, explaining why science was included in the improvement plan.

Special education

Marion County Special Education Cooperative director David Shepard reported 423 students with disabilities in Marion County are being served by the cooperative this year.

“That is up from last year from 412,” Shepard said.

“Centre has 50, Peabody-Burns, 77, Marion, 118, Hillsboro, 132, and Goessel, 46,” Shepard reported.

Shepard said the cooperative employs 45 certified staff and 86 paraprofessionals to provide services.

“We’re actually down a couple of certified positions,” Shepard said. “We may be bringing those people on board. None of those positions are short in Marion.”

Shepard made special mention of the cooperative’s early childhood intervention program.

“Our early childhood program is very special here,” Shepard said. “It’s just a well-coordinated program of child-find activities that I’ve never been associated with since I’ve been a director, and I’ve been a director in three other co-ops.”

The cooperative has developed a team of three teachers, a nurse, and a behavior specialist who will specifically address children who present difficult challenges.

“They will go out in the districts and meet teachers who have children with really challenging needs,” Shepard said. “Most of those kids will be on the autism spectrum.”

Other actions

After an executive session to discuss personnel, the board accepted the resignation of Jennifer Janzen from her duties as sponsor of Future Business Leaders of America.

The board gave approval to Leiker to develop and implement plans for a storage shed at Marion High School for theater and construction technology items.

Leiker propsed the shed as potential alternative to the house construction project typically done as part of the construction technology program, indicating the status of the current year housing project was uncertain.

Tuesday morning Leiker reported financing issues surrounding the housing project had been resolved, and the construction technology class would work on the shed at the end of the spring semester, if time allowed.

Leiker provided follow-up information during the board meeting about the egging of a district bus in Sedgwick during the Marion-Sedgwick football game Sept. 30.

A conversation between Leiker and the superintendent of Sedgwick USD 439 indicated two perpetrators had been identified and received disciplinary action, Leiker said.

In other business the board:

  • Continued their discussion of the book “Generation iY.”
  • Discussed representation for the Kansas Association of School Boards meeting in December in Kansas City.
  • Heard building reports from Wasmuth, Stubenhofer, and Marion High School principal Tod Gordon.
  • Approved the payment of bills, treasurer’s report, and activity report.

The next meeting of the USD 408 Board of Education will be Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. at the district office.

Last modified Oct. 12, 2011