FRONTENAC — The USD 249 School Board this week took steps to change its relationship with the Greenbush Southeast Kansas Education Service Center for operation of Frontenac's at-risk preschool program.

"We're going to assume that program in-house," Superintendent Rick Simoncic said. He was referring to a vote by the board on Monday night that would see the at-risk preschool program operated by district instructors at Frontenac's Frank Layden Elementary School.

The change will take place in August after a 6-1 vote by the school board with board member Randy Flora casting the lone dissenting vote.

Simoncic said the action item at the regular board meeting came up after Greenbush increased the cost to continue the at-risk preschool program to for the district to $33,511 next year. 

District officials estimated the Frontenac staff could takeover the program for an additional cost of $5,966.

That would result in a savings to the district of $27,545 over what Greenbush indicated it would charge to continue the program. Monica Murnan, director of student services at Greenbush, said the change basically was the reassigning of tasks that Greenbush officials have handled for years as far as helping access state funds.

"The program is not going away," she said. Greenbush has been involved in assisting 19 area school districts with such programs since 1976, Murnan said.

"This year we're able to move things around to better serve the students," Murnan said. She said Simoncic and Frontenac officials are committed to the value the at-risk preschool program provides for 4-year-olds.

Murnan said Greenbush's philosophy is to help area school districts provide the best educational opportunities for students regardless of whether they are delivered directly from Greenbush or through the individual districts.

Also at this week's school board meeting, the board also voted unanimously to extend Simonic's contract by another year after holding an executive session to discuss his evaluation. Simonic now has  a contact for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

Simoncic said when officials returned from winter break they were greeted with a broken internal telephone system. The board on Monday voted to approve the purchase of telephone hardware from Craw-Kan for $15,743.

"The current broken system is outdated and replacement parts are no longer available," Simoncic said. On Wednesday he said the hardware has already been ordered and will hopefully be installed and in operation by late next week.

In other business, the board: 

• Voted to accept a $3,000 grant from Pitsco.

• Approved the retirements of Mark Allai and Debbie Restivo at the end of the school year.

• Approved the immediate termination of Jessica Drew as a custodian after a 20-minute executive session was held to discuss personnel matters.

• Approved the hiring of Scott Fields as assistant high school football coach and the hiring of Roger Slagle as assistant high school baseball, and:

• Approved the hiring of Daniel Warlop for percussion/band help and Debbie Cameron as custodian.

— Mike Elswick is a staff writer for The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at melswick@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ mike_elswick.