Daily Archives: May 9, 2007

What happened to the school board meeting?

This past Monday there was no Wichita school board meeting because they only meet every second and fourth Monday. But this week, board members attended the retirement and longevity banquet honoring employees who have served in the district for several years.

Among this year’s retirement list are some pretty big heavy hitters. Galen Davis, the district’s safety services executive director will be leaving. Along with Mary Ellen Isaac who is in charge of the district’s curriculum focus and Emile McGill in charge of early childhood education. John Updegrove, who is one of the district’s statistics guru will be retiring as well. Updegrove is best known for reciting numbers such as enrollment, percentage of minorities students, and how many parents deferred in the busing lottery, by memory.

The next board meeting is May 21 and the agenda for that will be available the afternoon of May 17.

New state education guru appointed

In their second day of meeting, the Kansas State Board of Education appointed Alexa Posny as the state’s new education commissioner.

Posny was one of two finalists for the job. Marilou Joyner, executive director of the CEO Blackwell Education Support Team, an educational consulting firm was the other finalist. Posny was the former deputy commissioner of education in Kansas before becoming director of the office of special education for the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

She also applied to be commissioner before but, the then-conservative board chose Bob Corkins.

“I am pleased to be back in Kansas and I look forward to working with Board members, administrators, teachers, and others involved in the education of our children. All students in Kansas deserve an education that allows them to be competitive in the 21st century,” said Posny in a statement.

Her first day is July 1 and she’ll be paid $165,000.

Aging Minisa Bridge will wait a year for a facelift

The city has doubled the money it will spend to rebuild the historic Minisa Bridge that carries 13th Street traffic over the Little Arkansas River. But it will probably be 2008 before the facelift begins and Riverside drivers are forced to detour around the heavily traveled bridge. That’s because the city is trying to make sure North High School is on summer break at least part of the time the bridge is closed. And it’s expected to close for six months. During that time, most traffic will be re-routed to 21st Street. Neighborhood traffic will take a shorter cut over the N. Bitting Avenue bridge.

Since it takes more than a month to get state approval and let bids for the construction, the city can’t get it started this summer. The Feds will still pay $1 million, but the city has increased their budget from $800,000 to $1.6 million due to the rapidly rising cost of construction. That, the city is hoping, will lock a price in and prevent them from raising the budget for the bridge even more. The city’s long-term capital budget is already getting squeezed and this will just add to that, reducing the number of capital improvement projects they can handle in coming years. Once the bridge is complete, it will have all the historic features it has today — minus the cracks in the pillars and potholes in the red brick surface. The Minisa Bridge was built in 1932.