School board members heard Monday how Marion schools compare with area 2A schools in staffing.
Just a few years ago, Marion was solidly in the middle of 3A, but declining enrollment has put it just above the cutoff line — 160 high school students this year compared to 154 for the largest 2A schools.
Superintendent Lee Leiker used Bennington (132 students), Herington (117), Hillsboro (153), Inman (122), Moundridge (134), and Remington (154) for his comparison.
At the high school level, Leiker found that Marion has more math, science, and social studies teachers than the average among those other schools by about half to two-thirds of a position. The biggest difference was in industrial technology, where Marion has three teachers and the other schools averaged 1.5.
The elementary school had similarly higher staffing. The largest difference there was in Title I teachers. Marion has two, and the other schools surveyed averaged one. Title I teachers provide additional one-on-one instruction for at-risk students.
The board took no action, but board member Jeremiah Lange requested Leiker conduct a similar survey of extracurricular offerings. Board member Sarah Cope added that she wanted to know how many coaches or sponsors those activities had.
The board further discussed the possibility of issuing a computer to every high school student. A committee of staff members discussing the possibility told Leiker that additional training for teachers would be needed.
Family and consumer sciences teacher Myrta Billings told the board that students need more instruction in typing, letter formatting, and other skills. She said she has seen too many students who ostensibly are great with computers using “hunt-and-peck” typing.
Leiker said that if the district only maintains its current technology, it will need to replace more than 100 computers either this year or next.
The board appointed Lange to the technology committee.
The board revised a policy it approved in December prohibiting school activities or the use of school facilities on Sundays and after 6 p.m. Wednesdays.
A group of 13 residents, mostly parents, requested a change to the policy to allow youth basketball through the recreation committee during those times. With eight teams, it would be much more difficult for everyone to practice without those times available, they said.
The board changed the policy to only prohibit school activities at those times, but to allow other uses of school facilities, such as recreational basketball and open gym.
In other business:
- The board extended principals’ contracts for a year after a 45-minute closed session.
- FACS teacher, FCCLA adviser, and senior class sponsor Billings will retire at the end of the contract year after teaching 13 years in Marion.
- Leiker reviewed a possible school calendar for 2014-15, which would have classes from Aug. 14 to May 22, with 178 student days.
- The June meeting will be moved from June 9 to June 16 because of a personal conflict for Lange.
- The middle and high school will dismiss at 3 p.m. Thursday for the forensics meet at the school.