Wamego Ranks High in College Prep

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Wamego High School was named in the Top 10 best high schools in Kansas for college prep. At Monday’s USD 320 Board of Education meeting, Director of Instructional Services Dr. Mary Kaye Siebert, said Wamego was rated #8 of the 10, and this recognition is a celebration for the entire District. She noted that Wamego was in competition with much larger school districts, and said this “is the icing on the cake for all the hard work within the District”.

In other business, Human Resources Director Katie Wolfgang updated the Board on the Health Insurance renewal rates for the coming school year. She said the rate increase under their current carrier will be 30 percent, and received a bid from another insurance company with a 22.5 percent increase.

According to Wolfgang, the increase in premium will cost the district an additional $211,000 per year for the 199 employees on the plan. This increased cost does not cover the classified employees that work 30 hours per week, and the Board took the recommendation by their insurance broker to push back the coverage for those employees for another year, based on the implementation delays of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Superintendent Denise O’Dea said the District will be budgeting over a million dollars to cover the cost of health care coverage next year.

The USD 320 Board of Education approves a revised English Language Arts curriculum, as Director of Instructional Services, Dr. Mary Kaye Siebert went over the proposed changes due to the adoption of the new Kansas College and Career Readiness Standards for English Language Arts (ELA), formerly called Common Core State Standards.

According to Siebert, the revised changes build on the best of existing standards and reflect the skills and knowledge students will need to succeed in college, career, and life. Understanding how the standards differ from previous standards, and the necessary shifts they call for, is essential to implementing the standards well.

There are three key shifts called for by the Kansas College and Career Readiness Standards:
1) 1. Regular practice with complex texts and their academic language.
2) 2. Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from texts, both literary and informational.
3) 3. Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction.

The revised ELA curriculum will cover grades K thru 12, with K-5 fulfilling the standards requires a 50-50 balance between informational and literary reading. In grades 6 thru 12, there is greater attention on the specific category of literary nonfiction, which is a shift from traditional standards. Siebert closed her proposal by saying “curriculum is never “finished” rather it’s the beginning of a dynamic process”.

The board also approved increasing schools food programs. At Monday s meeting, Food Service Director Laura Fails, justified the increase based on the increased cost of food. She said milk is going up 4 cents per carton.

The current price of Elementary lunch is $2.50, with Secondary costing $2.60. Each will go up 10 cents. Fails said they haven’t increased the full price of breakfast for years, and it will also go up 10 cents, from $1.50 to 1.60.

The Board approved the purchase of a new Hobart Dish Machine for the Middle School for a cost of $27,000, which is the same model they currently have.