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November 6 Board of Education & Potential Bond Update Posted 11/9/18


This is not a full recap of all issues discussed at the Board of Education meeting. These are not official minutes. For more information on the Board of Education meeting click here:

During the USD 373 Board of Education, other districts across the state passed their bond elections. This means that there isn’t enough funding available for USD 373 to even submit its plan to the state right now due to a cap in bond funding.

With more special bond elections coming up in January, there may be more funding available if some do not pass. If not, the district has to wait till July of 2019. If approved by the state, then the district can start setting up an election for the community to decide on the bond. This usually occurs months after they get the approval from the state.

Despite the shifting timeline, the board still continued to finalize the language for a bond. It will be a two-question bond with the second question being a new three-section kindergarten through sixth-grade school south of town. The plan is for this new school to be a new home for the Walton Rural Life Center ag program. The school building currently in Walton will be shut down after this new school opens.

The first question deals with the priorities and areas the Community Vision Team (CVT) decided on over the last few months. The areas they decided to include in a new bond are:

  • Remodel of Newton High School
  • Auxiliary Gym/Storm Shelter at the high school
  • Science wing at the high school
  • Safety and security at Chisholm Middle School and Santa Fe 5/6 Center
  • Safety and security at the elementary schools
  • Santa Fe and Chisholm deferred maintenance
  • Deferred maintenance at the elementary schools

For the most part, the board decided to stay with the plan the CVT put together with a few adjustments. One of the priorities the CVT identified was the overcrowding at the middle schools which include Santa Fe 5/6 Center and Chisholm Middle School. The plan the CVT put together above did address Chisholm, but not Santa Fe. That is why the board decided to make the new school south of town a kindergarten through sixth-grade building. However, if the second question does not pass but the first one does. they will spend approximately $1,615,000 adding on to the current Santa Fe location. If both pass, these funds will just go towards the cost of the new school.

One additional change made was to the deferred maintenance. USD 373 will work on the design work and install the HVAC systems, saving about $1.5 million.

Look for more updates as new information becomes available.


October 29 Community Vision Team and Board of Education Recap Posted 11/1/18


This is not a full recap of all issues discussed at the Board of Education meeting. These are not official minutes. For more information on the Board of Education meeting click here:


Both the Board of Education and Community Vision Team (CVT) met on Monday, October 29.

Board of Education

The Board of Education’s special meeting was to make a decision about USD 373’s elementary schools, specifically Walton Rural Life Center. The Board of Education supported (6-1) an option to build a new school somewhere south of town and eventually close the elementary building in Walton. The plan is to continue the Rural Life ag program in the new building that can be designed for the needs of that program.

 In the meantime, the district will use capital outlay money to make repairs necessary at Walton. They will be looking at how they can divert water to reduce pooling under the modular classroom and at the playground.

This issue will be a second question on the ballot when it comes time for a bond election. The first question, with the main section of the bond, has to pass for the board to support the second question if it passes as well. More information on that below in the Community Vision Team recap.

Community Vision Team

In the Community Vision Team meeting, the members, made up of school board members and individuals from the community, voted individually on different pieces of a potential bond. This comes after months of discussion and deliberation. The CVT members decided that 60 percent of the CVT needed to approve an item to move forward with it. Here are the different areas that were approved:

  • Remodel of Newton High School
  • Auxiliary Gym/Storm Shelter at the high school
  • Science wing at the high school
  • Safety and security at Chisholm Middle School and Santa Fe 5/6 Center
  • Safety and Security at the elementary schools
  • Santa Fe and Chisholm deferred maintenance
  • Deferred Maintenance at the elementary schools

With this information in mind, the Board of Education will write out the bond language for their submission on Tuesday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. at McKinley Administrative Center.

Because of the bond cap, the district does have to wait and see how other district’s fare in their own elections before they know they can move forward. If there is money available, the district will be competing with other districts for that funding on a first-come-first-serve basis. If no funding is available, the district will have to wait till July of 2019 to submit their bond proposal.



October 22 Community Vision Team and Board of Education Update Posted 10/26/18


This is not a full recap of all issues discussed at the Board of Education meeting. These are not official minutes. For more information on the Board of Education meeting click here:

On October 22, both the Community Vision Team (CVT) meeting and Board of Education meeting took place at Newton High School. CVT members took a tour of the high school to give them a better picture for when they put together the vision for the bond.

After that, they broke into groups and went over their priorities. Not every group was able to get through all the different options, but some top priorities from the different groups were:

  • HVAC & fire sprinkler updated at the high school
  • Renovate pool area at high school
  • Renovate classroom wing at high school
  • Renovate locker rooms at high school
  • Renovate Ravenscroft Gym at high school
  • Renovate reprogram classrooms/corridors/commons at high school
  • Renovate kitchen at high school
  • Security technology at high school

However, the CVT still has a lot to discuss and the team is still working on coming up with exactly what they want in the bond. They decided to add another meeting on Monday, October 29 at 7 p.m. at McKinley.

In the Board of Education meeting, the board heard a facility update from Superintendent Dr. Deb Hamm. Most of what she spoke about had to do with water issues. Chisholm Middle School has some roofing issues near the skylights. They also talked about how soil erosion has impacted the grading of the soil at the school and that they’ve checked for mold.

Walton has similar water issues. Water has flowed underneath the modular classrooms and caused moisture in the building. There were also concerns about the air quality so the district brought out an environmental specialist to check the building. The results returned and the building is safe, but there are issues the district will have to deal with.

 They also talked about Newton High School. The temporary chiller was removed on October 25. The district is working towards the installation of the permanent chiller so it is ready when the weather warms up in the spring.

On another note, the district applied for a duration grant for Head Start. The grant would allow the district to provide all-day preschool for about 30 students in the 2019-2020 school year.

The board also approved two gift requests. Newton High School received a $1,038 donation from Elbing Grain to help with national convention trip expenses. Northridge Elementary received a $200 gift from Bethel College Mennonite Church to use as needed.

October and November Railer Roundtables Posted 10/9/18

We have another round of Railer Roundtables scheduled for October and November.

We had amazing discussions in the last four sessions, and we’d love to see you at one of our next sessions! Feel free to just stop in for a few minutes or stay the entire session. Bring questions and share your thoughts and opinions with Superintendent Dr. Deb Hamm and the school district. Here are the times and locations:

October 18 7 a.m.- 8 a.m. at Mojo's

October 26 12:00 p.m.- 1:30 p.m. at the Breadbasket


November 1 7-8:30 p.m. at Grand Central

November 10 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at Newton Public Library

November 27 7 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. at McKinley District Office

Railer Roundtables Oct

KSDE Names Two USD 373 Teachers Semifinalists For Teacher Of The Year Posted 9/20/18

Newton, Kan.--The Kansas Department of Education announced its finalists and semifinalists for the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year on Saturday, September 8 at a ceremony in Wichita, Kan. Debbie Miller-Dealy, a special education teacher at Sunset Elementary School, and Michael McConnell, a welding technology teacher at Newton High School, were two of the 24 semifinalists in the state.

There were 114 educators nominated this year in four different regions according to KSDE. Panels of the teachers’ peers judged five essays written by the nominees to decide who would become finalists and semifinalists in each region. Each region selected six semifinalists, three secondary and three elementary. From that pool, the panel then selects one elementary and one secondary finalist in each region.

According to the KSDE website, the mission of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program is to build and utilize a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the improvement of schools, student performance and the teaching profession.

Ag Career Academy, Newton High School, Numana work to feed hungry Posted 9/19/18

Newton, Kan.— The Newton Ag Career Academy and Newton High School are teaming up with Numana to feed hungry people across the globe. Students will pack 10,000 meals to send to Nicaragua, El Salvador or Honduras on November 30, 2018. The event is partnered with Convoy of Hope, and food will be distributed to the country with the greatest need at that time. Even though the pack day is still months away, the work has already begun. The Ag Career Academy is raising the $3,000 that will cover the cost of the meals. If you are interested, you can go here to donate.


This project aligns with the Ag Career Academy’s theme of sustainability. Instructors will connect the service project to the Ag Career Academy courses of science, literature and history. The students will be given as much responsibility as possible such as packing the meals, teaching other volunteers how to pack the meals, marketing the event and running their tables during the event among other duties.


“I think it will be valuable for our students to see a process like this from start to finish,” Elizabeth Gunn, Ag Career Academy history teacher, said. “Seeing what’s going on outside of the United States. Why are these folks in need of meals? What’s been going on there? There are so many different opportunities to learn from this opposed to just showing up, packing meals and leaving.”


Right now, organizers are asking for donations to get the $3,000 for the meals. They will also need volunteers to help on packing day on November 30, 2018. If anyone is interested in volunteering, he or she may contact Melinda Rangel, assistant principal.


Media Permission Clarification Posted 8/15/18

As communication and story-telling technology changes, we wanted to clarify our media publication permission. Photograph, voice or name would include moving photographs or video.  If this creates any issues for you or your student, and you wish to change the release you signed for this year, please contact your school to have your media permission changed.

ALICE and USD 373 Fire, Tornado and Crisis Drills Posted 8/8/18

Providing a safe, secure learning environment for students is one of our highest priorities.  This is why USD 373 has implemented the use of ALICE (i.e. alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate).  ALICE training has become a requirement of staff who are employed by USD 373. Our USD 373 staff have been trained to understand that ALICE is not a step-by-step response, but rather a set of options to utilize in the event of a violent intruder. 


You can read more about ALICE by going to


In July 2018, the State of Kansas/State Fire Marshall modified the number of Fire, Tornado, and Crisis drills that schools will need to have throughout the school year.  (four Fire, three Tornado, nine Crisis).  Students and staff will be trained periodically throughout the school year on various Crisis protocols.  Per safety concerns with the new State regulations, Emergency Preparedness Drill notification may only be sent out five minutes prior to these drills/events taking place.