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Final Meeting for Buhler USD 313 Board Members Miranda Engelken, Todd Carr, and Matt McCabe


By Lucky Kidd


BUHLER, Kan. — Two lease agreements were approved by the Buhler USD 313 Board of Education during Monday evening’s meeting.

One of the agreements relates to renovations and equipping of the buildings that will house Ad Astra Academies on East 23rd in Hutchinson and a day care facility at 56th and Plum. This lease agreement also included the payoff of an earlier lease-purchase agreement for the “Gregory” building that houses the district’s support center. This will be financed through RCB Bank, which submitted the lowest of two bids received.

Also approved was the lease-purchase of nine route buses and one activity bus through Prairie Bank of Kansas, which had the low of two submitted bids. This purchase is being driven by the fact USD 313 has five buses that will not be able to be used after the end of this school year as they have reached a 25 year service limit set by law, with three additional buses aging out at the end of the 2024-25 school year.

The Board heard updates on current facility projects. Superintendent Cindy Couchman presented updated drawings received late Monday afternoon for the remodeling projects at the buildings that will house a new child care facility and Ad Astra Academies, reflecting some mostly minor changes to earlier plans.

HVAC system improvements at Prairie Hills Middle School and Buhler Grade School have been hooked up and painting projects at Prairie Hills are planned during the winter break. There have also been meetings with vendors regarding security door access systems for district facilities, and information was provided on revamping of the basement level at BGS.

The Board of Education Monday tentatively agreed to allow the City of Buhler to extend a water line across the site where the district’s service center is located off East 69th Avenue. Mayor Jake Schmidt told the board this is the final item connected with an industrial park project. The tie into an existing valve at the service center, while maybe not the most ideal way to extend water to the south, was the city’s only real option.

Board members had a number of concerns about the overall development including the potential for future road improvements the district might be subject to special assessments for. This approval is subject to review by legal counsel and possible revisions based on that review.

A partnership agreement with Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas at Buhler High School. Coordinator of secondary education Dr. Paul Erickson said the JAK-K program addresses Kansas State Board of Education outcome expectations, especially in areas of post-secondary success and graduation rates, particularly as it relates to at-risk students.

BHS principal Michael Ellegood said JAG-K helps students get engaged, including such things as job shadowing opportunities, field trips to various businesses, internships and summer employment.

Much of the cost for a JAG-K specialist will be covered by grant funding through the Kansas Department of Children and Families, with an annual cost to the district of $12,750. JAG-K programs are in place in a number of area districts including McPherson USD 418.

The Board also approved policy updates related to graduation requirements and early graduation, particularly as it relates to Ad Astra Academies, and combining two existing semester-long classes into a single, year-long, horticulture class at Buhler High School.

Monday’s meeting was the final meeting for three members who are leaving the Board. Miranda Engelken and Todd Carr completed four years of service, while Matt McCabe served on the board for 12 years. Carr said during a reception prior to his final meeting he will miss being able to see the leadership provided by the district’s administration team. Carr added there’s been a significant improvement in the district’s financial position during the past four years. Engelken also cited similar comments, and also being part of it.

Photos by Lucky Kidd


McCabe during his 12 years worked with three different superintendents and was involved with bond projects. While there are things he will miss, there’s one thing he won’t miss and that’s going practically anyplace in the district and staff seeing him, commenting, “he’s a board member” adding he in some ways will get to “be himself.”

Superintendent Cindy Couchman noted the significant time commitment involved in serving on the board and sacrifices they make, including time away from their families and having to miss some of their children’s events to attend to district business.