Corbin H. Crable
USD 231 Board of Education members joined Superintendent Bill Gilhaus in recognizing six local schools for receiving the coveted Governors Achievement Award.
The school district announced on its website last week that Pioneer Ridge Middle School and Edgerton, Gardner, Madison, Nike and Sunflower elementary schools won the awards, bestowed upon the top five Kansas schools in state assessment test performance. The state grants the award each fall, and Gilhaus noted that five of the 42 elementary schools and one of the 11 middle schools selected were located in the Gardner Edgerton school district.
“As you’re aware, per No Child Left Behind, our students are supposed to test 100 percent proficient in reading and math, and a lot of people think that’s unattainable,” Gilhaus told the school board and the audience.
He said the fact that so many of the school’s students who are identified as being “at-risk” also tested proficient in those areas bodes well for the school district, too.
“Almost 34 percent of our student population is identified as at-risk. We also have a large (English Language Learners) population,” Gilhaus said.  “With that being said, more than 90 percent tested proficient in reading and math.”
Gilhaus, with all six principals of the winning schools standing before him, lauded the schools’ faculty and staff for helping students achieve the proficiency goal.
“It truly is a collective effort that makes this possible,” Gilhaus said. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished. It’s a good time to be a part of USD 231.”
In other business, the board:
• Heard a brief update on projected state education spending coming into 2011 from Finance Director Eric Hansen. Hansen said that actions the state legislature may take next year include the creation of a bill that would require a two-thirds supermajority from the legislature when passing any tax increases. And although no specific mention of USD 231’s involvement in the current Schools for Fair Funding lawsuit was made, Board President Ron Ragan said he believes litigation may be necessary when it comes to education funding.
“We’d love to see the legislature adequately fund schools, but if litigation is what it takes to get funding, that’s what it’ll be,” Ragan said.
• Approved requests for new courses at Gardner Edgerton High School, including Teens Offering Peer Support, Wind Ensemble, Advanced Instrumental Techniques, and Treble Chamber Choir.
•  Approved a reimbursement contract for design services supplied by DLR group. The services will involve the relocation of fiber optic cable running along U.S. Highway 56; the project will cost an estimated $23,900 and include $600 for reimbursable expenses, according to Technology Director Lora Baugher.
Board members also met in executive session for land and personnel matters. Look for a related story in next week’s edition of The Gardner News.
The board will next meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, at the district offices, 231 E. Madison St. in Gardner.