MHS students plan coffee shop

News editor

An entrepreneurship class at Marion High School, taught by Megan Thomas, is planning to put a coffee shop in the high school library.

Students Morgan Wheeler and Amanda Stuchlik spoke to the USD 408 Board of Education on Monday, seeking permission to continue with plans and requesting funds for construction. Other schools have had success with student-run coffee and snack shops, they said. Just in the area, Centre, Hillsboro, and Hesston have had positive results.

Board president Chris Sprowls asked whether a coffee bar would have any effect on the school lunch program. MHS Principal Tod Gordon said it would be closed at the beginning of lunch to avoid competing with school lunches.

Construction would include counters, cabinets, and sinks, with the high school construction class probably providing labor. The class is doing small projects now because the Homestead Affordable Housing project isn’t rolling yet. Plumbing for sinks would be the biggest difficulty of construction, Gordon said.

The board indicated it was supportive of the idea for a coffee bar and asked the class to prepare a financial proposal for construction to present at the Jan. 14 board meeting.

Videography equipment approved

The board approved contributing $4,017 to MCTV and local channel 20 for Tricaster videography equipment. That is half the cost of the equipment, with MCTV paying the other half.

Gene Winkler of MCTV said the equipment would allow for more professional videos and highlight packages of school sports and events. He also said the district might be able to get career and technical education funding for a videography and video editing class.

Winkler said he also intends to produce a weekly 30-minute news show covering Marion, Hillsboro, Lincolnville, and the county lake.

In other business:

  • Driver’s education fees will remain at $125 for the second year.
  • The school district’s insurance premiums are going up 16.1 percent to $113,072 for property, equipment, auto, general liability, crime, worker’s compensation, and employee conduct insurance. Casey Case of Case & Son Insurance said EMC Insurance Company has had a period of losses, particularly from wind and hail damage, forcing higher rates.
  • Superintendent Lee Leiker met with the board in closed session for 40 minutes to discuss personnel matters. On return to open session, the board accepted the resignation of Becky Summerville as district clerk and Mary Jane Grimmett as attendance clerk and athletics secretary. Summerville’s resignation is effective March 1, and Grimmett’s resignation is effective Jan. 25. The board also voted to hire Shannon James for food service up to two hours per day. Leiker said district office duties will be redistributed, but the staffing level will remain the same.
  • Lyle Leppke, board representative to Marion County Special Education Cooperative, said the cooperative board continues to focus on facilities issues. The heating system is the biggest challenge. A consultant gave quotes between $900,000 and $1.1 million to fully fix the heating system. The cooperative could use a lease-purchase to finance the work for 15 years, but he questioned whether the schools should make that long of a commitment.
  • Sprowls commented on items from the Kansas Association of School Boards convention. Inman has had success with issuing every high school student an iPad tablet computer, but the school is still working out wrinkles in the program. He said he would like for someone to attend a seminar Inman will have about the program. Sprowls said he also doesn’t like the focus that is put on the ACT college entrance exam because other predictors of college success are just as accurate.
  • Gordon reviewed results of the Marion Classic basketball tournament. It was the first time the boys’ and girls’ finals have featured four different schools, which resulted in a large crowd on Saturday. The tournament took a lot of involvement from staff, students, and the community, he said. In particular, he thanked Lee and Diane Leiker for putting in long hours. The boys’ team placed first, and the girls’ team placed fifth. Gordon also mentioned that the wrestling team won the Hesston Invitational on Saturday.
  • Revisions to the classified staff handbook were approved. Most were due to a change to using direct deposit instead of issuing paychecks and using electronic timecards.
  • Leiker said that school jobs account for 5.5 percent of Marion County’s jobs but 13 percent of residents’ income, while also reviewing population data for the county over time. “Those are well-paid jobs in the county,” he said. That means cuts in state aid to schools hurts the county economy, especially if those cuts force cuts in jobs.
  • The district will have an energy audit in January to see if it can save money by making changes to heating, cooling, or electric systems.
  • The district is to have a staff appreciation soup day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.
  • The board toured the elementary, middle, and high schools after the business portion of the meeting.
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