Wichita school board members said the district does need to rethink how it gets its message to the public, but any new rebranding strategy will have to be paid for with nontax dollars.
“My phone and e-mail doesn’t often blow up, but these last two days, it blew up,” said board member Jeff Davis.
The board voted unanimously Monday to send the proposal back to the administration. Several members said they likely would support the concept if it could be financed with nontax funds.
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“The timing is where I’m having a problem … knowing that we’re going to be looking at crises as it has to do with our budgeting,” said board member Betty Arnold.
“Knowing that we’re going to have to look at where the dollars go and try to make some wise choices, this kind of concerns me.”
Board member Lynn Rogers said a constituent told him: “ ‘Our best branding is to produce intelligent, well-adjusted graduates.’ And I agree.
“But we at this table realize we have a lot of competition. Parents can choose to send their child to lots of different places – suburban schools, parochial schools, private schools, online schools,” he said.
“What we say, what we do and how we say it are very, very important. So I get all that and understand that. … We just can’t do it with tax dollars.”
Also on Monday, the board approved a $1.5 million bond project for Curtis Middle School. The addition at Curtis, 1031 S. Edgemoor, will include two regular classrooms and two science classrooms that will double as a storm shelter.
Ken Arnold of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey, the district’s bond manager, said plans for remodeled administrative offices and a controlled-access entry at Curtis were scrapped because of cost concerns.
“We’d like to do those, but we just don’t have the funds at this time,” said Ken Arnold, who is not related to Betty Arnold.
The board unanimously approved the Curtis project. Construction is expected to be completed by January 2016, Ken Arnold said.
Board members also voted 7-0 to contract with Teledoc to provide physician telephone consultations to employees as part of the district’s self-funded health plan. Officials said Teledoc is expected to save the district about $500,000 a year on health costs.
District employees will be able to call a U.S. board-certified doctor through Teledoc to resolve non-emergency medical issues – such as sinus infections, pinkeye or ear infections – rather than visiting a primary care physician, urgent care center or emergency room.
Employees will pay a $15 co-pay for each Teledoc call; the district’s health plan will pay $25 per call.