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    Reed pitches building project to board

    Superintendent Brad Reed unveiled a $2 million capital outlay building project to USD 428 Board of Education members during the Nov. 14 meeting.

    Reed said district administrators have been working for a while on the project that would provide a new maintenance facility and updates to the District Education Center.

    The new “bus barn” would be built north of the DEC on Patton Road.

    Reed told board members that the current maintenance warehouse, located at 2019 12th Street, is deteriorating and is in serious need of replacement.

    The new building would accommodate the needs of maintenance, grounds and transportation now and into the future, he said.

    Don Marrs of DMA Architects, PA, addressed the BOE with initial details for the site plan as well as exterior and interior views of the building.

    Preliminary details described a 120’ x 150’ concrete-block structure with 18’ walls and with a brick veneer on the front exterior. 

    Offices could be placed across the front and that area would have a second level for storage.

    The remainder of the facility would house mechanical, welding, electrical and plumbing shops; tool site; vehicle wash bay, bus sheltering and more. 

    Other details being discussed are overhead 14’ doors that would be located at multiple entries and a system of automated gates as a safety feature.

    A very preliminary estimate for constructing such a building is in the range of $1,575,000, including architectural and engineering costs as well as a 15 percent contingency.

    The second phase of the project would be to improve the DEC with additional classrooms, a new board room, restrooms and other updates throughout the building. The cost of the renovation would be approximately $500,000.

    Marrs said a brick veneer, like the one noted for the maintenance facility, would set off the front exterior.  

    A major change would be an enlarged board of education meeting room, with a designated area where board members could relocate for executive sessions, allowing guests to re-main in place. 

    Additionally, there would be a large meeting room that would seat 80 to 100 and a new entrance on the south side the DEC to allow direct access to the board room. New restrooms would be built in the area that could be secured from the rest of the building.

    Moving the buses now housed at the DEC would make room to expand the ITT department and copy center. 

    Marrs proposed installation of glass panels around offices to provide an open, welcoming appearance, but would also provide privacy of business conversations. 

    The preliminary estimate for renovation of the DEC is $498,000, including architectural and engineering costs as well as a 15 percent contingency. It does not contain furniture costs.

    Payment would come from Capital Outlay funds and would be accomplished with no tax increase, Reed stressed.

    The superintendent encouraged board members to consider the two proposals as presented and to move forward. 

    Although the concepts are noteworthy, board members indicated they need time to study the proposals and consider aspects, including other potential district projects before offering a decision. 

    The project will not move forward until the school board gives the go ahead. Plans could be altered according to proposals of the administration, board of education, directors and employees. 

    There will be further discussion at the Dec. 12 board meeting. Board members were encouraged to ask questions and suggest variations.

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    NHS sees need, feeds it

    There are many great things that happen at Great Bend High School on a daily basis. The National Honor Society Food Drive is just one example, said Kayci Strickland, NHS sponsor and English teacher.

    “I’m proud of the NHS members for their goals, their determination and their passion for helping people,” Strickland said “It’s a privilege for me to be their sponsor.”

    During a five-day food drive from Nov. 14-18, NHS members orchestrated an event that netted nearly 1,600 pounds of food for the local food bank. In the past four years, they have gathered more than six tons of food to feed local people in need.

    “This is a tremendous act of service and the NHS members have fully invested themselves in this cause,” she said. “They know there is a need within our community – sometimes even within our own school – and they want to help. 

    “By participating in this food drive, they’re making a difference and they know it. That’s why this group of young people is so remarkable – they truly have a heart for serving others.

    “This year’s officers Allison Muth, Konner Ireland, Maddy Otter, Ashtin Heath and Kaitlyn Moos have been outstanding,” Strickland said. “I couldn't do this project without all of their help, but all of our members step up to volunteer during this project.

    “Students make posters, collect, count and box the food and help load it on the trailers when it’s picked up,” she said. “It takes the whole club to make this event happen and everyone works really hard.

    “We’ve always deemed our food drive a success simply because we’re helping our community.  We set big goals each year, but we’re grateful for any donations we receive, regardless of our numbers.

    “This year, the five NHS officers decided that they weren’t satisfied with the goals of past donations. They were determined to collect even more and they wanted to reach out for community support,” she said.

    That’s why the Great Bend Public Library became a drop-off site.

    “It’s been wonderful to work with the library staff and have them get involved with this project,” she said.

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    Literacy program benefits older & younger students

    Tami Schepmann, Great Bend Middle School ESOL/Reading Lab teacher and Student Council sponsor, loves it when a plan comes together.

    So when Lisa Schwab, Head Start teacher, reached out to her with a need for her young students to increase their literacy levels, Schepmann was eager to help her pull a plan together.

    Panther Pals was born.

    “Weekly, the students from Head Start are coming to the middle school and our students are taking turns reading to them,” Schepmann said.

    “This is part of our community involvement goal,” Schepmann said. “It is also helping Head Start with their goal of increasing literacy with their students.”

    Great Bend Public Children’s Librarian Dayna Ball has been helping by selecting age-appropriate books.

    Schepmann said that Head Start students walk to GBMS. Middle school students greet them at the door and then read to them.

    “Middle school students are so excited about participating and are anticipating their turn,” she said.

    “Even my English learners have had the opportunity to practice reading fluency and read with the preschoolers,” she said. “It’s a real win-win.”

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    Coaches discover education Workshop hones in on all that Discovery Education has to offer

    It was old home week recently for Tricia Reiser, Federal Programs Director, as she invited her long-time friend and colleague to share his knowledge of Discovery Education (DE) with local instructional leaders.

    Reiser explained that DE, a comprehensive digital resource that the district subscribes to, has what it calls a superintendent in residence. Her friend, Dwight Jones, serves as that education leader.

    “Dwight leads the Discovery teams of educators across the U.S. in transforming districts to digital literacy,” Reiser said, “His charge is to travel the country to work with district leaders as they work to prepare students for the 21st century – teaching and learning.” 

    She noted that the district spends a lot of money on DE and the teachers really appreciate the streaming component. The special workshop helped teachers learn to use it to its full potential. 

    “Instructional coaches learned about the many components of DE,” Reiser said. “Educators in the district have been aware and utilizing the streaming videos that DE provides, but it offers so much more than just the videos.

    “The purpose of the DE training was to become familiar with how DE can help teaching and learning in our district,” she said. “We want teachers to use DE and take advantage of everything it has to offer. DE has a plethora of resources and activities that promote teaching and learning. 

    The instructional coaches found the presentation, titled “Five Ways High Quality Digital Content Helps Close the Achievement Gap” to be very helpful.

    “The coaches have been given the charge of sharing with the teachers in their buildings about DE,” Reiser said, noting that plans are in the works to continue a partnership with the DE for more training and professional development.

    “Once the word is out about what DE has to offer, we believe that its usage will increase,” she said.

    Discovery Education is designed and driven by state standards and uses engaging multimedia resources. It offers a portfolio of opportunities for districts to meet students where they want to learn in the digital age.

    Discovery Education provides:

    Extensive video library including videos from Discovery Channel, Scholastic, BBC, PBS and NASA. The basic package has content from more than 150 educational producers.

    Image and audio libraries, an interactive atlas and encyclopedia articles. There are also add-on video libraries, such as a language pack that includes video clips in more than 30 languages.

    Clips aligned to K-12 national and state curriculum standards. Many are organized according to themes and teachers can search for relevant clips by keyword, subject, grade level and curriculum standard. Search options for closed-captioned videos and videos in Spanish. Streaming that provides a library of lesson plans and suggestions for incorporating the videos into all areas of study.

    Quiz builders: Teachers can create multiple-choice quizzes that students fill out using a computer. The quizzes are graded automatically and teachers can view the results, including the answers the students chose.

    Writing prompts: As with the quizzes, teachers create the prompts and students complete the assignments using a computer. There’s also a library of prompts for a variety of writing styles, from expository to narrative.

    Editable videos: Teachers can use video editing software to customize certain clips.

    Professional Development: Discovery Education offers a wide array of complimentary professional development options that allow educators to learn more about integrating technology into the classroom.

    Discovery Educator Network: A Discovery Education streaming subscription includes an invitation for all educators to join to the Discovery Educator Network (DEN). The DEN currently includes more than 88,000 members nationwide, providing professional development to more than a half a million educators.

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