School Board

Atchison Public Schools USD 409 Board of Education President Carrie Sowers, right, Superintendent Renee Scott, center, and Vice President Diane Liebsch, left, gather with returning board members Sean Crittendon, back left, and John Eplee, MD, back right, along with new board members Pam Rizza, MD, second from left, Sally Berger, back center, and Stefanie Gardner, second from right.

The first meeting of 2020 for the USD 409 Board of Education brought several changes, with female leadership stepping up as a reflection of how every newly elected member and all but two members overall are women.

Board members Carrie Sowers, Diane Liebsch, John Eplee, MD, and Sean Crittendon officially introduced and welcomed their newly elected peers, Sally Berger, Stefanie Gardner and Pam Rizza, MD, to their first meeting as district decision makers on Monday, Jan. 13, at the board office.

Later in the meeting, board members unanimously elected Sowers as president, and Liebsch as vice-president for the remainder of the current school year. The board members were then appointed to serve on various committees and to take on specific roles as part of their official duties in the district.

The appointments of respective board members’ duties are as follows:

Diane Liebsch: Kansas Association of School Boards Governmental Relations Network Representative and KASB Delegate Assembly at the upcoming 2020 KASB annual convention in December.

Eplee, Crittendon and Berger join the Policy Committee, along with Superintendent Renee Scott and Central Office Administrator David Myers. Duties are ongoing to review and make recommendations to revise and/or reaffirm policy recommendations from KASB.

Liebsch, Gardner and Rizza join the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee, complementing the preceding USD 409 Teacher of the Year, two teachers representing the Atchison National Education Association, a building administrator, and a district administrator. The committee will screen nominated teachers by fellow staff members.

According to a plan developed in previous years, one teacher is recognized as Atchison USD 409 Teacher of the Year representing the district for recognition programs that include Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame, Kansas Teacher of the Year, Rotary Teacher of the Year, and the Kansas Master Teachers Award.

Rizza, Liebsch and Gardner join the Classified Employee of the Year Selection Committee. The process is similar to that of the teacher of the year selections, but centers on classified employee recognition.

Crittendon, Sowers and Rizza join the superintendent and sitting REC Board representative review applications and make recommendation to fellow board members to appoint a district stakeholder to represent the district on the Atchison Recreation Commission Board.

Liebsch and Gardner are stepping forward to review employee applications to the Sick and Emergency Leave Pool Committee. Five persons comprise this committee that also includes superintendent designees, and an ANEA appointment. After committee members receive an application, the committee expands to include a teacher and principal from the applicant’s building.

Crittendon, Eplee and Berger join the Activities Committee.

Sowers, Liebsch and Rizza join the Staff Wellness and District Wellness committees.

Berger and Liebsch join the Calendar Committee starting for the 2021 school year.

Liebsch, Gardner and Sowers will oversee Larry Mears, board attorney and chief negotiator and his negotiation team members, as they prepare the 2020-2021 school year contract.

Sowers, Eplee and Gardner will join the Director of Special Education Interview Screening and Interview Team, with Liebsch acting as an alternate. This process will find a replacement for Myers in his role as special education director. Myers recently announced his intent to retire, effective the end of the current 2019-2020 school year.

Concerning some regular business matters, board members:

Unanimously moved two upcoming meeting dates due to conflicting scheduling dates that have come to light on the current school year calendar dates. Board members will meet Monday, March 2, one week earlier than previously scheduled because of the spring break schedule.

Also moved the June meeting ahead one week to Monday, June 1.

Heard Liebsch request that there be some discussion about moving the regular meeting time at 7 p.m. ahead one hour to 6 p.m. Although some board members indicated they did not have a preference, Crittendon and Rizza agreed 7 p.m. offered a better fit for their current schedules. There was no action concerning the time change, by consensus board members decided to leave the regular meeting time as it is.

Board members also recessed from regular session to go behind closed doors for about 10 minutes to discuss matters concerning non-elected personnel. After board members resumed the public session they unanimously voted on the following action items:

They accepted the resignation of Paraeducator Jerry Kuhler, effective Dec. 19;

They accepted the recommendation to employ Sabrina Durkee, Mary Beth Wohlgemuth and Allie Hofelt as paraeducators; Durkee’s appointment is effective Jan. 13, while the latter two decisions are effective as of Jan. 6.

They approved a supplemental contract for travel between Atchison Middle School and Atchison High School for School Nurse Carol Smith, RN.

Following an announcement concerning a special meeting for board members to discuss goals and expectations during a mini workshop setting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the board office, board members adjourned their meeting.

Mary Meyers can be reached


Follow her on Twitter: @MARYMEYERSglobe

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