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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Prairie View board votes to upgrade internet service

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

LA CYGNE – With a vote on two items on Monday, Feb. 13, the Prairie View USD 362 Board of Education paved the way for fiber optic cable to be run two miles to Parker Elementary School. The school is the only one in the district that does not have a fiber-optic connection.

The board first approved a new E-Rate plan that will give all of the district’s schools a one gigabyte internet connection. Currently the band width is half that rate. The cost of that service is $11,100 a month for all three campuses.

The board then approved $36,000 to have Peoples Telecommunications run the fiber optic cable from a connection point 2 miles east of Parker. The total cost of the installation is $120,000, however, under the e-rate plan, the school district pays less than a third of the cost.

Peoples was awarded $50,000 last June and another $30,000 in December from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from the Linn County Commission to run fiber-optic cable to residences and businesses east of Parker.

In December, Peoples General Manager Jennifer Leach told commissioners that their company had been contacted by the Kansas Fiber Network (KFM) to take broadband to the school in Parker.

The board also decided to invest in other technology as well, voting to purchase 500 new Apple iPads for the middle school and high school for nearly $189,000. The devices will replace the tablets currently in use, which are five years old.

Computer tech staff member Chris Abeyta said that some of the tablets were beginning to have battery problems. He also said there were problems with programs not working properly.

The bid from Apple included protective covers at no charge as well as Apple Care product warranty.

An estimate prepared by Nabholtz Construction for more than $332,000 to replace the doors in the high school received board approval. It is anticipated that the work will take a month during the summer break to complete the work on what is estimated to be more than 100 doors.

Superintendent Rex Bollinger noted that the doors were original, hollow-core doors from when the high school was built more than a half century ago. The reason the price was so high was that new doors would need to have a two-hour fire rating that would mean replacing the frame as well as the door.

The kitchen in the high school will also get the first facelift it has received since the school was built. The project, which will cost just over $99,000, will include pouring a new epoxy floor covering, installing a new ceiling and applying a wall covering over the old tile.

Student Services Director Beth Sandness said that in addition, a wall will be removed to open up the kitchen. And new cabinetry will be installed as well. The school maintenance staff will install the new ceiling to help keep down costs.

The board also approved installation of a sound-dampening system in the large gym for a cost of up to nearly $53,000. The installation will include both wall and ceiling panels to absorb the noise.

Music teachers Jeff Russell and James Beltz requested the new panels, even though there are some wall panels in the gym. Russell said that the existing panels had been painted over, which reduced their effectiveness.

Bollinger noted that during the gym remodeling project, the ceiling sound-dampening panels were removed, making the gym very noisy.

Russell said that that without the system, the reverberation in the gym was extreme.

Prairie View is hosting the district and state music events this spring, and the teachers said the installation will help improve the sound. The bid went to Two Guys Music, the company that installed panels in the band room.

The board also discussed replacing the surface of the track around the football field as well as surfaces in the high jump and pole vault areas.

Mark Hough, activities director, told the board that he had a bid by one company to overlay the current surface, which is more than 10 years old. That estimate was $162,000.

The other bid was for about $338,000 and involved more extensive work. The higher bid was to remove the existing surface, repair any cracks or defects in the asphalt base and lay down a new surface complete with markings for lanes and hand-off areas. He said that bid included a five-year warranty.

He indicated that the new track would likely last 12 to 15 years, while the overcoat might last five years.

The board tabled the issue until a later meeting.

The board also received an update from Hornbeck in his role as curriculum director about courses planned for next year.

A basic woodworking course, Woodworking Principles, will be taught by Scott Bauer. The one-credit course will include instruction in using hand tools, measuring distance and angles, using power tools, joining and assembling materials for a project, and applying finish. The course will be a prerequisite for cabinetmaking and furniture design.

Veteran teacher Tamala Snyder will teach Computer Science. The course will be offered on years the school doesn’t offer Physics.

Other courses that will be updated or modified for the coming school year will be Graphic Design, which will no longer only be available to yearbook students; dual credit History 101 and History 102 will be available through Fort Scott Community College (FSCC) if there is enough interest; increasing Forensic Science from a one semester to a two-semester course; Cosmetology at FSCC if there is sufficient interest; and co-teaching English courses with an English teacher and a special education teacher.

In other business, the board:

  • Heard a report on pre-school from La Cygne Elementary School Principal Tiffany Ellett. She said she had learned that the state would begin paying the district for 3-year-olds in the district’s pre-school program in the 2023-24 school year. The board discussed allowing 3-year-olds in the program in the January meeting.

  • Received a positive report on the audit for the 2021-22 school year, with only minor suggestions for improvement. School business manager Kylee Capp got high marks from the auditor on her work and help with the audit.

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