Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
The USD #231 Educational Services Advisory Committee (EASC) met on April 25 to discuss the school boundary study update and possibly video recording of Board of Education meetings.
Video recording BOE meetings
After discussion, the committee voted to recommend video recording B OE meetings and post it to an on-demand site.
The Board of Education (BOE) had requested that the Educational Services, Community Relations and Technology Departments research the possibility of video recording and/or streaming BOE meetings. The primary objective is to enhance the district’s communication efforts by allowing interested persons to view meetings at their convenience.
Findings from the initial research was presented to committee. The research started by examining how 15 other Kansas school districts use video. Five of the districts examined do not do any kind of video. One records audio only, and the other nine record video and audio. Five of those nine provide live streaming video of meetings as they are happening.
It was mentioned that video viewers could include patrons and parents who had never attended meetings, and this might be their first impression of the district. Because of that, ensuring good video and audio quality is considered vital.
The recommendation suggests starting with a single camera mounted in the center of the room, with a computer to display presentation graphics.
Anther consideration is accommodation for the hearing impaired. There are options for providing this. The recommendation was to hire a professional, like the Olathe district does, to translate speech to sign language during the meetings. The sign language person would be superimposed in the lower right corner of the video screen.
The research estimates an initial one-time cost in the range of $7,000 to $11,000.
Future recurring costs would be minimal but would be incurred if additional equipment is desired or employees were hired specifically for video.
The two school districts in Johnson County that currently use video have full time employees dedicated to providing video content. This recommendation suggests investigating the possibility of using existing staff.
Rather than broadcasting meetings live, the recommendation suggests a turnaround time of 72-96 hours to allow for any editing required. Editing could be necessary to remove breaks, executive sessions and to consider privacy of students who appear at meetings.
The recommendation offered three options; 1) to adopt video recording and posting to on-demand host sites, 2) to implement audio recording only, which would involve significantly less manpower and expense compared to video, or 3) to make no change and continue providing written minutes of meetings.
After discussion, committee voted in favor of recommending Option 1 to the Board of Education.

Summer Courses

Ryan Colston, GEYCP, spoke to the committee about summer courses.
“We have code academy […] for coding, which is a very popular class. We have ASL for beginners and middle school students learning sign language, which is also very popular. […] We have photography classes, we have dance classes, improv and drama, fitness, Lego clubs, kitchen science which is by far one of the most popular classes, basics of babysitting, art and many more. The ATC classes are offered for high school students and adults, to learn a variety of skills. Those range from basic welding to basic home repair, automotive repair, airbrush painting and cooking seafood,” said Colston.
“Our GEYCP courses, we have Breaks for Kids, a week long summer camp. We have Extreme Fun Camp which is a three week class. We have Make It-Take It Scrapbooking, and cooking for all grade levels as well,” he said.
Colston said that some summer classes had already booked capacity with a wait list and others were nearing capacity. He said numbers have doubled from what the district had in 2016.
“We are well above where we’ve been the last couple of years. I think this will be a record year in enrollments for our district, which is awesome,” said Colston.

Boundary study
The district is currently evaluating boundaries and considering changes. Ben Boothe, director of secondary educational services, said that consultants had presented two boundary concepts.
“They shared two boundary concepts […] one had very little change for the current boundaries, and the other one had more significant changes, and what it really boiled down to was the idea of, we want to have a complete elementary feeder system,” he said.
Boothe reminded committee members that the next step in the process is a public forum on the topic scheduled for May 3 and asked members to spread word of that forum to encourage attendance.
After the first public forum, the Boundary Committee will meet on May 22 and again on Sept. 4. There will be a second Public Forum on Oct. 2
The final meeting of the Boundary Committee is scheduled for Nov. 13. At that meeting they will refine options and seek consensus on recommendations to the school board.
The recommendations should go to the Board of Education for consideration at the Dec. 10 meeting.