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Marion-Florence school board meets

Marion USD 408 Board of Education members experienced how two technological innovations provide and enhance learning opportunities for students during their meeting Monday at Marion Middle School and Marion High School.

School board members from Marion, Hillsboro, Peabody, and Centre participated in a demonstration of the Technology Excellence in Education Network (TEEN) by Brandi Hendrix, TEEN director.

The interactive distance education network makes a variety of classes and events available to students of all ages across the participating districts of Marion, Hillsboro, Peabody, Centre, and Herington.

Physics, history, pre-calculus, psychology, speech, elementary statistics, Spanish, sociology, art, and college algebra are examples of classes Hendrix said have been shared simultaneously by students in different districts over the TEEN network.

Students have opportunities for career exploration through a new TEEN feature, Career Conversations, that allows students to interact with professionals in a wide variety of occupations, Hendrix said. Educational game shows, such as Jeopardy, are being added to the network to provide engaging enhancements to the learning experience.

Board members went next to the classroom of middle school English teacher Jona Neufeld, who demonstrated how she uses an ActivBoard interactive wall-mounted whiteboard. The large screen and integrated software allow teachers and students to share prepared presentations, easily incorporate digital images and audio files, access the internet, and create writing and graphics directly on the board through its touch screen interface.

Eight ActivBoards are installed in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms at Marion Elementary School, and the one in Neufeld’s classroom at Marion Middle School.

“The boards have created a different excitement,” USD 408 superintendent Lee Leiker said. “This is in the realm of how students learn now – more interactive, and it keeps them engaged.”

“This technology has gone from being a novelty to a necessity,” board president Chris Sprowls said.

Drug testing

During the period allotted for superintendent comments, Leiker revisited the discussion from the August meeting regarding the mandatory random drug testing policy for students in extracurricular activities.

“We test for six different things,” Leiker said, responding to a question about the scope of the testing.

“We can change that, but as you change or add tests, you add expense. There are things that are tough to test for,” Leiker said.

Leiker recommended district staff continue to analyze the policy and seek input as appropriate from students, parents, staff, and the community.

Safety inspections

The Kansas Department of Labor Industrial Safety and Health Division contacted the district office last week regarding a safety inspection conducted by the department in May, Leiker said.

The visit report was not received by the district due to an e-mail error, according to Leiker.

The report identified 32 minor violations of health and safety standards in district buildings, Leiker said.

The concerns identified in the report are being corrected, and an itemized report detailing the district’s corrective actions will be filed with the Department of Labor by the end of the week, Leiker said.

EMC Insurance Company, the insurance carrier for the district, conducted a walk-through safety inspection of district buildings last week.

Subsequent to the board meeting, Leiker explained this inspection is regularly conducted every three years by EMC to insure safety and minimize loss and risk to the district.

EMC will provide the district with recommendations for controlling loss, which has the added benefit of keeping annual premiums lower, Leiker said.

Other actions

After an executive session to discuss personnel, the board approved hiring Geniece Barger as a technology assistant. A subsequent motion set Barger’s rate of pay at $10 per hour, with an allowance for individual health insurance coverage.

In other business the board:

  • Approved annual fundraising activities for all three district schools.
  • Approved adding a line item for cheerleading to the high school activity fund account.
  • Discussed items from the book “Generation iY – Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.”
  • Reviewed district activity calendars, which will be made available for free distribution to the public.
  • Approved the payment of bills, treasurer’s report, and activity report.

The next meeting of the USD 408 Board of Education will be Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at the district office.

Last modified Sept. 14, 2011

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