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Newton USD 373 board VP Budde steps down

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Jennifer Budde

Jennifer Budde, the current vice president of the board of education for Newton Unified School District 373, on Monday announced her resignation from the board. 

"It has been my honor to serve the community," Budde said. "... I stand behind every vote that I have cast the past three years and I see USD 373 moving in a very positive direction."

Budde and her husband made a decision this summer to move their children from the Newton school district to another school system. The board amended the agenda Monday to accept Budde's resignation, as she made her announcement during the board member comment portion of the meeting. 

"As we moved through the first semester at their new school, we realized that change had become a permanent one," Budde said. "I have always felt that sitting up here is the responsibility of those who are 100 percent vested in this district."

Her resignation was immediate. The board will be charged with appointing a replacement for Budde. That replacement will serve the remainder of her current term — which ends next year — before seeking election. 

The board will accept applications from interested parties. Applications should be sent to Joni Jantz, board secretary, at McKinley Administrative Center, 308 E. First. 

She is the second board member to leave in the past six months. Toby Tyner resigned his position over the summer. Andrew Ortiz was appointed to that position following an application process. 

COVID-19 gating 

The board of education was faced with a difficult decision Dec. 14 — what mode of education to use when students return from winter break the first week of January. 

"We had a COVID case at my house, and that was difficult. It was not fun, and it wasn't a cake walk," said Luke Edwards, member of the USD 373 Board of Education. " ... I want you to take it seriously. If you can avoid it, avoid it. It is not fun. .. It was miserable. Take it seriously. It is killing people." 

The board approved a "yellow" mode of operation when school resumes after winter break. Yellow means pre-K through sixth  grade in school all day, every day, with grades seven through 12 in a hybrid mode — students in school two days a week and attending online the remainder of the week. 

The board also approved the Kansas State High School Activities Association guidelines for fans through an orange mode of operation of schools. 

KSHSAA voted Dec. 8 to allow up to two parents or guardians per participant to attend games. The guideline is in place through Jan. 28. When KSHSAA voted to allow winter sports to move forward, the organization initially set guidelines for games to be played with no fans in attendance. 

The board also approved a $150 payment to classified staff members — an expenditure of more than $14,000 — as a thank you for what staff has done during the past few months of COVID-19. 

"I am glad we were able to do something to recognize them," said Mallory Morton, board member. "There will never be enough money to pay everyone what they are worth. ... Thank you for all the work you have done and pitching in and helping out."