The Gardner-Edgerton Board of Education decided to continue their membership with the Kansas Association of School Board members at their meeting May 2.
The item had been pulled from the April 4 consent agenda and tabled for further discussion.
Dr. James Sutton, interim superintendent, said he had talked to the district’s attorney about the legal services policy review.
“In a nutshell the job is too big for a firm to do cost effective matter,” he said. “They do review policies but not as complete of a matter as KASB. KASB has created the policy book.”
Dr. Sutton said there was only one way the attorney would be able to do it.
“The only way he could do it would be to pirate policies from other districts,” he said. “And he is not comfortable with that, and I don’t feel like the board would be either.”
Tom Reddin, board vice-president, said he wanted to know more about the insurance piece.
“It is the largest chunk of our fee,” he said.
Dr. Sutton said he wanted to clarify that Reddin was speaking about more than just the district’s membership fee.
Candace Moorehouse, staff accountant, said they had stopped doing the parent pay option because no one had purchased it.
The district is covered three ways she said: General Liability Policy for a $0 deductible, Student Accident Insurance through KASB that covers up to $25,000 and an excess policy from KASHA for 7-12 grade athletes that kicks in after $25,000.
“Student accident insurance is an added benefit to a parent,” she said.
Moorehouse said 186 school districts have student insurance services through KASB at $2.45 per student preK through 12th grade.
They had received quotes from two other insurance agencies at $31,925 and $39,000, she said.
Dr. Sutton said the other part was the legal assistance fund that has several attorneys take questions, and he felt they respond quickly.
The fund is $2300 and their current attorney is $260 an hour, so the district gets their money worth, he said.
“It sounds like I’m advocating for KASB-I’m not,” he said. “These are just the services they provide.”
Reddin said he felt like all his questions had been answered.
Lana Sutton, board president, said it was $44,375 a year for the district’s KASB membership with legal services and insurance and it hadn’t been shared in the past openly before.
“We get a lot of services for that money,” she said.
Katie Williams, board member, said she wasn’t a math person but it seemed like paying for the services separately would cost a lot more than staying with KASB.
Reddin said they were benefiting from the insurance part alone.
“If we separate how much we spend we would be spending more for services at other places,” he said.
Dr. Sutton said in some cases there were no alternatives to the policies.
Greg Chapman, board member, said he had been disappointed with the National Association of School Board’s comments.
“We pay $44,000 to an organization who went on a National level to make parents who were just advocating for their children sound like terrorists,” he said. “And say it is an overstatement or say whatever you want to say but $44,000 of this community’s money went to this organization that tried to make it so you couldn’t speak at these board meetings.”
Chapman said KASB does offer a good service with classes provided.
“I do believe the National, and maybe Kansas by proxy since they are a part of that, owe this community an apology for overstepping their bounds personally, but I do recognize the positives of having the membership,” he said. “But I don’t appreciate their point of view on some things.”
Reddin said he agreed what was done on a National level was wrong but he had spoken with Dr. Jordan at KASB.
“They told me they don’t agree or politically align with NASB and immediately called a meeting in how to address it,” he said. “They distanced themselves.”
Williams said she didn’t agree with the statements either.
“The leadership that was there is no longer there and they have new leadership that come with KASB and do power to step away from the narrative,” she said. “It is a hugely beneficial service.”
Williams said she agreed it wasn’t the right thing for NASB to state.
“But I don’t think it is a good enough reason to step away when we are all on the path of onwards and upwards,” she said.
Lana Sutton, board president, said it had been completely unacceptable.
“I think we are all in agreement they you don’t call parents advocating for their kids terrorists,” she said.
Deb Starling, board clerk, said a vote wasn’t required to continue their membership with KASB they just renew their membership every year.
The district decided to not have the added $2,000 membership that pays for an additional person to attend different meetings in the district.
Starling said they had always done it.
“But I am not sure we have always used it,” she said.