Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Several staff members of Unified School District 207 were recognized during the monthly board meeting June 22 at the district office.
Garrison Commander Col. Harry Hung and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Antwone Jones recognized six individuals — Keith Mispagel, superintendent of schools; Brett Duvall, assistant director of Technology Services; Philip Barnett, technology coordinator; Liddell Hobin, director of Technology Services; Ross Viets, network administrator; and Matt Dixon, technology media specialist — presenting each with a Public Service Commendation Medal for their assistance in broadcasting the tri-weekly community updates. For the last several weeks, Hung has been hosting the updates from the board office.
“Every time I walk into the facilities here at USD 207, it is just jaw-dropping with the amount of technology, the talent and all the kinds of support that we have,” Hung said. “Thank you for this entire team over here that has enabled us to do the most important thing and that is our ability to dominate the information space.
“This is more than just informing the community on what COVID precautions we’ve taken, but it is about shaping our social behaviors,” he said. “Helping people to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and why it’s so important what they do because everyone’s safety here is dependent on all of us doing the right thing. …We’ve got to be able to pull this together as a team and that requires leadership across the board, and you’re part of this team, and I’m deeply appreciative.”
Myron Griswold, board president, also recognized several people for their service to the district during the 2019-2020 schoolyear. Each received a certificate of appreciation and a district coin.
Corie Weathers, former Military Spouse of the Year and district parent, was recognized for her participation in the annual USD 207 convocation last August and the University of Saint Mary panel discussion, “The Social and Emotional Implications for the Military-Connected Child,” in February, as well as her overall support for the district.
“We really benefitted from your expertise and experience and strategic communication skills this past schoolyear,” Griswold said.
Weathers, who participated in the meeting via videoteleconference from her family’s new duty station at Fort Hood, Texas, said she was appreciative of her family’s experience with the district.
“It was not only an honor for me to be able to do what I could to serve, but also my way of giving back,” Weathers said. “You guys received us with open arms and open hearts and open minds, and I watched you guys do that with other parents, and so our kids are better for it from having a year at (Fort) Leavenworth and with District 207.”
Board Vice President Lt. Col. Christopher Evans and board member Col. Scott Green were recognized for their support of the district and community.
“In addition to their normal board duties, they’ve served in extra capacities to help the district be its vision and accomplish its mission,” Griswold said.
Emily Highsmith, English language arts intervention specialist, and Kylie Waite, MacArthur Elementary School instructional impact coach, were recognized for their part in executing the district’s continuous learning plan following the cancellation of in-person classes because of COVID-19.
“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Griswold said. “In the middle of March, we had a change in the way that things had to be done and you stepped up … and we had an opportunity to see all the great work you were doing, and you demonstrated flexibility, your expertise in putting together the initial continuous learning plan, and you did it in a very short period of time.
“Even before the state issued any guidance, I believe we got a really good head start on what needed to be done, and it wasn’t easy, but you showed flexibility and adaptability. That’s what our military really values,” he said. “The people who benefitted were the students who actually took part in the distance learning and their parents.”
Finally, Kimberly Lees, director of transportation and grounds, was recognized for her 21 years of service to the district as she prepares to retire.
“Thank you for a distinguished career and a career that contributed to the educations of literally thousands of military school-aged children,” Griswold said. “You did it with grace, and you did it with confidence.”
Lees, who participated via videoteleconferencing, said she was thankful to the district for the opportunity to serve so many years.
“You didn’t have to, but you saw something (in me), and you just let me run with it,” she said.
During the meeting, the board approved an amendment to the calendar for the 2020-2021 schoolyear, which pushes back the start date from Aug. 13 to Aug. 17.
The change came in support of the Garrison’s requirement that all new families coming to Fort Leavenworth complete a 14-day self-quarantine.
The new start date also coincides with the Leavenworth school district, USD 453.
The amended calendar is available at www.usd207.org.
During the meeting, the board was updated on several district projects.
In November 2017, the board approved the update of the Educational Dome Theater System technology at Bradley Elementary School. Work was originally scheduled for summer 2020, but because of COVID-19, was delayed.
Now, work is expected to be completed by the end of November. Factoring in a learning curve of the new systems, it is expected to be open for student visits by spring 2021.
The proposed renovations of the theater that were presented to and approved by the board in January have been postponed.
In October 2019, the board approved plans to update the acoustics in Bradley’s cafeteria in an attempt to reduce noise levels. That work has been completed.
“Walking into that cafeteria, just myself walking on the tile floor, it is noticeably quieter,” said Rich Holden, USD 207 chief financial officer.
Finally, Holden updated the board on the continued construction of the new Patton Junior High School at the old MacArthur Elementary School location. As of June 22, construction has officially begun.
As part of the Department of Defense Education Activity grant, SuAnn Grant, deputy superintendent, requested approval to use up to $25,000 in grant funds for school supplies, which will be purchased directly from the DoDEA supply line, to put toward student supply lists.
The money would purchase things like scissors, crayons, pencils and more.
“It is our way of paying it forward to our parents,” Grant said. “There will still be a supply list, there will still be purchases to make… but this is one way that it is appropriate and allowed that we can use our DoDEA funding.”
The board approved the request.
Board members and other essential personnel practiced social distancing during the board meeting, and several members of the USD 207 district office and other personnel attended the meeting via videoconferencing.
All board meetings are open to the public. For an overview of the meeting and the minutes, visit https://go.boarddocs.com/ks/usd207/Board.nsf/Public.
The next USD 207 board meeting is at 4:30 p.m. July 27 at the district office.