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COVID mitigation ongoing at USD 409
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Dr. Renee Scott, Superintendent of Atchison Public Schools, clarified some of the details concerning the federal monies allotted to the school district by way of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund during the USD 409 Board of Education meeting Nov 8 at the board office.

The explanation came after Board Member Sally Berger said she has some concerns about some misinformation circulating throughout the district.

Scott said she is aware of a misunderstanding that USD 409 has received the ESSER, Federal Stimulus Funding because the district-mandated a mask requirement. The mask-wearing and COVID-19 policies and procedures are based on recommendations committees comprised of stakeholders, school administrators and health officials, health officials, and school staff. The district has received two rounds of ESSER funds that are being spent for personal protection equipment in classrooms and district properties, teachers’ pay including the increase of substitutes; technology in and out of the classroom to accommodate the learning and training throughout the pandemic. The second round and the forthcoming third round spending has more of an emphasis on closing the learning gap from the COVID interruptions like rigor in the classrooms and more summer school programs.

Scott also updated board members about the current statistics and said she is relieved there is only one positive case of COVID infection throughout the school system.

“The data is looking good,” Scott said and credited the mitigation practice in place. Scott also announced that Atchison Elementary School will be a site for a vaccination clinic for school-aged persons.

Board members unanimously voted to approve paid leave for staff members who have been diagnosed as breakthrough COVID cases because they have followed the protocols and were vaccinated.

Board members also approved that teachers who have increased the number of students in their classrooms throughout the illness of teachers would receive equal portions of a substitute teachers’ pay divided evenly among them.

Board members were also introduced to some members of the Atchison High School’s Phoenix Robotics Team members Lucas Genail, a freshman, A.J. Sinclair, and Emily Fuhrman, both sophomores, who demonstrated the workings of the latest robotic team competition creation. Demolition is the theme of the competition. The AHS team is comprised of seven members. Dr. Paul Ogle serves as the Robotics Sponsor.

Concerning other matters, Board members:

Excused themselves from the public session for a total of 45 minutes to discuss non-elected matters of unemployment focusing on resignations, recommendations for employment, and supplemental contracts. The first session was for 30 minutes, which was extended for an additional 15 minutes. After the public meeting resumed board members unanimously accepted resignations from Carton Crumb – Ninth- through 12th-grade theatre and communications teacher at AHS, effective Tuesday, Dec. 21. With a waiving the assessment of liquidated damages; AES paraeducators, Kylia Acheson Hundley, effective Sept. 21, Candace Shields, Nov. 12, and Abiguel Durnin, effective Monday.

> Unanimously recommended for employment Carley Chase, AHS paraeducator, effective Oct. 27.

Unanimously approved supplemental contracts for Sercy Duncan, boys assistant basketball coach at Atchison Middle School, and Nathan Phipps boys assistant basketball coach at AHS.

Heard a report from Atchison National Education Association President Bad Weaver and Vice president Rachel Crosswhite about American Education Week throughout Monday, Nov. 15 through Friday, Nov. 19.

Nichole Honeywell introduced the district’s three school psychologists who are celebrating National School Psychologist’s Week from Nov. 8-12. The psychologists have a combined work history of more than 46 years in 409 and the Atchison Community.

Jacque Coleman presented an update about the LINK Grant partnership between Atchison and Leavenworth Public School districts that have been extended for another year due to the COVID interruption. Coleman also reviewed the statistics related to the curriculum programs.


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USD 377 reach teachers contract agreement
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EFFINGHAM — Atchison County teachers will be seeing a rise in their base pay for a couple of school years.

USD 377 School Board members voted 5-0 to ratify a negotiated contract agreement as presented with Atchison County Teachers Association with a paid base to $40,000 for 2021 through 2023 school years.

Board members Corey Neill, Vice-president Barbara Chapman, President Lori Lanter, Nancy Keith, and Jim Cormode all voted for the measure in a public session that followed two different executive sessions behind closed doors. The first of these was 10 minutes to discuss matters of nonelected personnel, and then another 10 minutes to discuss negotiations of nonelected personnel matters. The action extends the previous agreement for another year.

Board members Kelli Bottoroff and Greg Smith were absent from the meeting that was Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Wednesday’s action to ratify the contract came after board members’ approval during their Oct. 13 meeting to approach the ACTA about opening up negotiations.

Superintendent Andrew Gaddis announced that Atchison County Community Schools have earned three different levels of achievement from the Kansas State Department of Education for 2021. The district earned Gold for 95 percent of their students graduating, a bronze for Civic Engagement.

Gaddis described Civic Engagement are the things the district and students do for the community. Some of the things Gaddis cited were the annual Veteran’s Day Celebration, sponsored by the National Honor Society, the annual community dinner for senior citizens, and the FFA historic signs throughout the county. Earlier in the day, a group of Atchison County Community High School students gave a presentation about Civic Advocacy to the Kansas State Board of Education in Topeka.

Concerning other matters, board members:

Heard a legislative update from Rep. John Eplee who talked about an upcoming special session starting Monday, Nov. 22 to address some issues related to pandemic mandates, vaccination exemptions, and unemployment eligibility. Eplee also discussed funding concerning education.

Accepted resignation from Business Manager Melissa Gormley, board clerk, effective Oct. 30; hired Ashley Noll-Hockemeier as COVID Nurse Aid for $12.50 an hour; Jennifer Billings as elementary school teacher per salary schedule; and approved a supplemental contract position for Katie Madden to serve as a 2021 Testing Grant Coordinator for $750.

>Recognized students for their recent achievements:

Cross County athletes: Rebekah Caplinger—all NEKL First Team, placing at regional and state qualifier. competitions; Haeden Forbes—NEKL second team, placing at regional and state qualifier, and Leah Wilson – NEKL second team, regional placing, and state qualifier; Undefeated Junior High Football team as NEKL Champions, NEKL Champions High School Football Team earned third place in district play; and Noelle Walters, Amy Eckert and the entire ensemble cast for the production of “All Shook Up.”

Heard reports from Administrators, Gaddis, Elementary School Principal Mandi McMillan, Junior/Senior High School Principal Ron Shelton, and Activities/Athletic Director Cy Wallisch.


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Senator Jerry Moran speaks at Atchison Rotary Club
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Senator Jerry Moran visited the Atchison Rotary Club on Thursday at noon. Senator Moran is no stranger to the Atchison area but on this Veteran’s Day, he had a special message. He has served seven terms in the United States House of Representatives but since 2011 he has served in the Senate. He pointed out that he is a strong advocate for our nation’s veterans, working to make sure they are receiving the care that has been promised to them.

Senator Moran pointed out that the Veterans’ Affairs Committee is probably the only committee where you could not tell if a republican or a democrat was the chairperson. “Isn’t that the way all government should be, working together”? The reaction from the crowd was loud applause in agreement.

Agent Orange was a topic because he pointed out with germ warfare during Viet Nam the veterans had poor treatments and he wants to protect the next generation from any residual effects it may have on younger generations. Veterans’ need for healthcare and welfare is a top priority. 220,000 veterans are known to be in Kansas.

Senator Moran told a story about how he called his dad after walking to the Lincoln Memorial and passed the WWII Memorial and decided to call his fathers who served in Sicily and North Africa during WWII. His father wasn’t home but the Senator left this message on his answering machine, “Hi Dad, I called you to tell you that I respect you, thank you for your service and I love you”.

One area that the Senator felt the United States was wrong on was the way we left Afghanistan. About 1000 people were left behind that were instrumental in helping out the United States and he feels we should have done more to help them come to the United States. He said he believes that our presence in Afghanistan helped keep the terrorist from attacks on our homeland. He pointed out that the suicide rate among veterans has hit double digits because of the way the U.S. left Afghanistan.

The Mission Act was a boon to veterans because now they can access services wherever appropriate. He pointed out that this is in the best interest of the healthcare provider, doctor, and veteran.

The Senator also talked about the expansion of broadband, recognizing its importance to compete in today’s digital economy. He has championed legislation to improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps and direct federal resources to target unserved communities. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, he has oversight of the Federal Communications Commission.


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Neighborhood Revitalization Plan Part II
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The city of Atchison has planned improvements under the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan for the following areas: water distribution, sewers, refuse collection, street maintenance, parks, and recreation facilities, and police and fire protection.

Under the area of water distribution, the city of Atchison plans to perform routine repairs as water mains, valves, meters, and other distribution-related infrastructure fails. The city does budget between $50,000 and $500,000 per year for the replacement of poor quality, low-pressure water mains that exist in the system. The exact location of those projects is currently unknown, through history it is likely that multiple water main projects will need to be completed in the targeted area.

Atchison plans to make significant improvements to both the stormwater and wastewater collection systems. The city budgets around $200,000 per year for repair/replacement of curb and gutter, curb inlets, stormwater pipes, wastewater pipes, and other miscellaneous drainage infrastructure. Most of those improvements are likely to be within the target area of the neighborhood revitalization program. Because of the city’s combined sewers, the EPA and KDHE have mandated a remediation program that will include CSO mitigation projects in the targeted area. At this time improvements to the South Headworks Pump Station and the continued construction of the Dam 6 CSO separation project will be included in the program.

The refuse collection area at this time has no changes.

Every three years the city undertakes a bonded street project costing around $1.25 million. The next such project is planned for 2023 and improvements are scattered throughout the city. The improvements are scattered inside and outside of the target area.

The parks and recreation plans for the city are a new skate park at Reisner, a new playground at Independence Park, and renovating one of the shelter houses at Jackson Park. Additionally, the city has a parks and recreation division that routinely performs maintenance and repairs to the parks and other city facilities.

Last, the police department has plans for the purchase of two new patrol cars in 2022. The fire department has plans for the purchase of new supply hoses. In addition to the above, the city water distribution and collections division plans to install several new fire hydrants throughout the city.

Part III will appear next week; Specifications of properties eligible for revitalization.


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