By CRISTINA JANNEY
The Hays USD 489 school board voted Monday to reduce the driver’s education fee by $25 for the upcoming summer session.
Driver’s education fees for in-district students will be $225 and cost for out-of district students will $275 for the summer 2019 session.
The program had a balance of about $80,000, and the administration recommended the fee change to reduce the surplus over time.
The program is also using part of the surplus to extend class time for students.
Board member Greg Schwartz, who voted against the fee resolution, asked if this is the correct time to reduce the fee with looming shortfalls in the budget.
“It is easier to leave and adjust later than to cut it and try to figure out where the money is going to come from after you have already cut the fees and now you are sitting on summer or the eve of summer and that opportunity is gone,” he said.
Superintendent John Thissen said the driver’s ed program is separate from the general budget and it was not the district’s goal for the program to be a money maker for the district.
Board member Paul Adams noted Kansas has a lack of driver’s education programs. He said he wanted to leave room for the program to grow if necessary. No college in the state is currently offering a driver’s education instructor certification program.
Adams said he thought the district should also look at reinvesting in additional driver’s ed materials. He said he wanted to ensure the program resulted in extremely safe students on the road.
“If we have a surplus, let’s put it to work in a creative and positive way,” he said.
The board also approved summer school fees, which will remain the same as 2018. Fees will be $200 for out-of-district students, $100 for in-district students and $10 for students receiving free or reduced-cost lunches.
The school board heard a report from interim director of finance Keith Hall on the capital mill levy resolution.
The board has to renew the mill levy, which is now at 8 mills, every five years. The levy generates about $2.5 million per year.
The district is at the maximum it can levy for capital outlay. It can only vote to keep the levy the same or lower it.
The mill levy pays for building maintenance, lease purchases and custodial salaries. The lease purchases include items such as computers, vehicles and projects, such as the middle school HVAC system.
The board has discussed moving the custodial salaries, which are about $300,000 per year, back into the general fund.
The board will vote on the mill levy at its next meeting on Monday, Feb. 25.
In other business, the board:
• Approved contracts for Assistant Superintendent Shanna Dinkel and Director of Special Education Chris Hipp.
• Heard a report on Kansas Education Systems Accreditation survey results
• Discussed the designation of teacher negotiating agents for the board. Thissen suggested himself, Bill Jeter, board attorney, Keith Hall and perhaps a board member be appointed to the negotiating team. The board will vote on the agents at its next meeting.