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Board to consider upping price of parking permits at high school

By Bryan Richardson

The USD 383 school board will vote on the Manhattan High parking permit cost during its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Robinson Education Center.

At the April 17 board meeting, board member Pete Paukstelis advocated raising the price of an MHS parking permit from the administration-recommended $50 to $100 for the upcoming school year.

Board members Paukstelis, Darell Edie and Walt Pesaresi were prepared to vote for an increase during that meeting. Their collective reasoning included the parking fee not increasing since the 2010-11 school year, covering more of the cost of security and pushing more students to use the bus system.

Board president Dave Colburn, board vice president Curt Herrman and board member Beth Tatarko advocated not raising the price drastically without putting more thought into it. They also reasoned that an increase to $100 would harm the students who have after-school activities that make it necessary for them to drive.

The administration is coming into Wednesday’s meeting with the same recommendation of keeping the cost at $50. This is based on benchmark information collected by the district as well as the potential of students parking in neighborhoods around the school and increased bus purchases.

In 2012-13, the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) reported that 23 of 286 districts required students who drove to pay a parking fee.

USD 383’s current fee of $50 is the second highest in the state, according to KASB. The fees ranged from $2 to $60 with a median fee of $14 and an average fee of $5.

The board is scheduled to vote on a first reading of revisions of the student organization policy. These revisions are intended to clarify the difference between the groups sponsored and initiated by the district (clubs) and those non-sponsored and initiated by the students (groups).

This is related to the events surrounding the December resignation of Patrick Day as a co-president of the MHS chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Day’s fellow co-president, Caitlyn Webb, asked FCA officials for clarification regarding whether FCA policy permitted a homosexual to serve as an officer of the organization.

Members of the board requested a review of guidelines regarding discrimination.

Clubs initiated by the district have a district employee advise them and follow the guidelines and missions established by the districts.

Under the revised policy, a district employee would supervise but not participate in a non-sponsored group’s activities. This would include local chapters of national student organizations such as FCA.

These groups have meeting rights under the Equal Access Act, and the district must maintain a neutral viewpoint on the groups.

Supt. Bob Shannon said the district couldn’t make judgments unless a group’s action is advocating something against the laws of Kansas and the United States, particularly violence.

The board is also voting on a first reading of the school start and end times for the 2013-14 school year. The board approved returning to a 189-day school year after maintaining a 185-day schedule during the construction and renovation projects from the $97.5 million bond issue.

The middle schools and MHS would have their school day reduced by 10 minutes due to adding the additional four days. However, the elementary schools would maintain the same school day length due to the additional early release and professional development time being added for teachers.

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