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Budget issues continued to be the underlying theme of the Ava R-1 School Board on Monday, May 16, when the group met for the regular business session in May. During the evening, decisions were finalized for the ensuing school year; however, one key item, the selection of a food service group, was tabled until June.
In closed session, board members accepted resignations from two high school teachers: Robert Powers, chemistry, and Jeff Tabor, biology.
New employees for next year were listed as: Laryme Campbell, from Thornfield, high school math; Keven McKee, of Springfield, high school chemistry; and Christy Stockdale, El Dorado Springs, middle school physical education, middle girls’ basketball, and high school volleyball assistant coach.
Jason Snelson, middle school math teacher, will serve as middle school assistant football coach; Justin Gilmore, assistant coach, boys’ basketball; Casey Merrifield, 9th grade boys’ basketball; and Calen VanNess, 9th grade girls’ basketball.
With a unanimous vote, the board accepted a bid expense of $106,263 submitted by All Purpose Erectors, Inc. of Lebanon, Illinois, for the installation of new lights and poles at the high school football field stadium. The field reconfiguration includes a 25-year maintenance free commitment, energy efficient lights, and new pole placement to gain the best lighting for the field.
Installation of the new poles will place them away from the field for better light projection, and safety. Also, ballasts will rest lower on the poles placing less weight and stress on the top of each structure.
In a 7-0 vote, the board decided to maintain the career ladder compensation rate implemented last year. However, a modification was made to program details –– instead of stipulating a 50% student-contact and 25% parent-contact requirement for teachers, the board approved a 70% mix instead. This change will provide more flexibility for teachers who interact with students in a more versatile classroom environment, such as librarians and art teachers.
In the career ladder discussion, it was also noted that the program will be renamed at a later date.
Dr. Brian Wilson, superintendent provided each board member with a breakdown of budget expenditures and revenue streams for the 2011-12 school year. The information also included insurance rate increases and salary schedules. Wilson said many budget entries are still unknown at this time, making it difficult to arrive at a final budget for next year. Some outstanding factors were given as: transportation funding (flat funding item projected at 45%); Missouri pre-school project funds; Classroom Trust (gambling revenues have decreased); sales tax (on the rise); and local assessed valuation which had also decreased.
A depositary agreement with Great Southern Bank was continued for next school year, and the natural gas consortium agreement through the Missouri School Board Assn. was also extended for the ensuing year. Both items were adopted with 7-0 votes.
Superintendent Wilson reported the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) for next year had been revised to reflect a strong focus on college rather than career venues for students. The MSIP initiative, which has been in place for over 20 years, provides new standards each school year in an effort to set goals for administrators, and to help maintain a quality education system.
However, policy goals proposed for the 2011-12 school year have harsh components, and could triple the number of tests for Ava students. The proposed standards would also hold high schools accountable for the academic performance of their students who continue on to college; remedial classes required at the college level would reflect to the student’s high school experience.
In both examples, it was implied that expenses would in some way fall back upon the high school.
Wilson said administrators across the state have asked that the MSIP 5 plan be withdrawn. He noted a state advisory committee has been formed to review the proposed standards, and recommendations should be forthcoming in August.
High school principal Teresa Nash reported that biology class is not a required course for graduation, however, the requirement may need to be changed. This coming year the issue will be monitored and closely reviewed. Now students can use courses in Ag to substitute for the biology or science credit.
Ava high academic students for the month were Justin Smith and Raylein Holley; and citizens of the month for April were Kevin Philpott and Lindsey Armour. The character word was honesty.
Assistant superintendent Nancy Lawler reported grades 3-8 had completed MAP tests, and the school is now waiting for scores. Sixty-one seniors completed requirements for the A+ incentives, and three additional seniors may be eligible after final semester grades are posted. Students must have a final GPA of 2.5.
Lawler is also working with Dr. John Turner on the 21st Century Community Learning Grant. If received, the grant would provide $450,000 for the first 3-years of the initiative.
Middle school principal Cody Hirschi said Skyline R-II School District’s Board of Education had decided to try for membership with MSHSAA and was seeking approval for their students to play sports with Ava next year. The goal is for students to play middle school basketball and volleyball.
The middle school has purchased the SRI Reading Assessment Tool from Scholastic, and will use the set to monitor student growth each year. The program will allow teachers to develop reading lessons appropriate to student level.
Elementary students will have Field Day Monday, May 23, at the football field. Activities will begin at 9 a.m., and throughout the day, students will enjoy fun activities and games.
During May, elementary students will enjoy field trips to Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Missouri State Capitol, the governor’s mansion, Branson, and other local sites.
The special services report given by Connie Lee noted the school year is concluding with the following breakdown of services for students: 32 students assisted in K-2; 41 in 5-8th grades; 42 in 9-12 grades.
Next year, 26 kindergarten students will enter school with a special need, such as, autism, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, speech or language; and in K-12, 69 students will continue to receive speech/language services.
Voting 7-0, the board adopted the special education compliance plan offered through the Department of Education for the 2011-12 year. The plan was recommended by Lee.
Each school year, Ava students are asked to model, use and reflect character building words highlighted for the month.
The character words selected for the 2011-12 year are as follows:
Responsible, August; citizenship, September; respect, October; sportsmanship, November; compassion, December; trustworthy, January; patience, February; courage, March; hard working, April; and self-control, May.
Contracted bus drivers/owners for 2011-12 were presented to the board as a point of information for consideration. The list consisted of: Gary Harvill, bus #1, 80.4 miles; Roger Sanders, bus #2, 70.2 miles; David Stillings, bus #3, 67.8 miles; Bill Holt/owner, Billy Holt/driver, bus #4, 79.2 miles; David Dooms, bus #5, 41 miles; Lester Sanders/owner, Rita Sanders, driver, and Bethany Caudill, driver, bus #6, 64.2 miles; Dwain Turner, bus #7, 53.8; Randy Duckworth, bus #8, 49.8 miles; Rolla Swofford, bus #9, 45.6 miles; Pablo Zamora, bus #10, 40 miles; Alvie Dooms/owner, Jackie Holman/driver, bus #11, 45 miles; Mick Swofford, bus #12, 77.8 miles; Jim Miller, bus #13, 66.8 miles; Judy McFarlin, bus #14, 72.2 miles; Rolla Swofford/owner, Becky Scrivner/driver, bus #15, 80 miles; Larry Vinson, bus #16, 52.6 miles; Jerry Wagner, bus #17, 83.9 miles; Dwayne Nash, bus #18, 54.4 miles; Clay McFarlin, bus #19, 54.8 miles; and Jeannie Miller, bus #20, 50.4 miles.
The school cafeteria review was presented by David Davidson, and approved by the board in a 7-0 vote. Davidson noted that during the year, 63,853 breakfasts and 188,355 lunch meals were prepared and served to students, totaling over a quarter of a million meals. These numbers are up from the previous school year by 4,500 meals.
Top food choices continue to be pizza, burrito, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs.
With the retirement of cafeteria manager David Davidson, and the threat of Federal regulations being imposed on school cafeterias, board members solicited bids for initiating a food service program at Ava schools. The sealed bids were opened on Thursday, May 12, with two companies vying for the job –– Opaa! Food Management Inc., of Chesterfield, Mo., and Fresh Ideas Management LLC, Columbia, Mo.
Both companies are similar in make-up and offerings. They both propose the same type of in-house cafeteria service; both provide a certified nutritionist; and both would continue to maintain the present cafeteria staff and personnel. They also promise to uphold and maintain the federal regulation standards imposed upon school cafeterias.
However, following a lengthy discussion, school board members opted to postpone the decision until they had visited a Fresh Idea food service school facility. Prior to the meeting on Monday, several board members had traveled to Mountain Grove to witness the food service Opaa! provided at the school. During the visit, board members had the opportunity to visit with school employees about the Opaa! service, as well as, dine in the cafeteria.
It was the general consensus of the board that a fair decision could not be reached until a similar visit to a school program served by Fresh Ideas had occurred. Consequently, a visit to Seneca schools is being planned.
In Ava, the cafeteria director and assistants plan daily food service for approximately 500 elementary students and 900 middle and high school students, and over the past eleven years, this in-house service has averaged an annual loss of $26,000.
Based on information provided by the two companies and Dr. Wilson, utilization of a food service will provide economic benefits, as well as allow for a wider variety of food items. According to administrators and workers in other schools, such as Mountain Grove and Seneca, switching to a food service program was a positive choice that created an upswing in cafeteria revenues. The board plans to have a decision on the issue by June 6.
School board members present were Marsha Aborn, Pat Henry, Johnny Burkdoll, Randy Spurlock, Larry Silvey, Ron Wallace and Regina Porter.
The next monthly board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 16, 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in the new board room located in the east high school building, in the room previously occupied by the band. Entry is on the north side of the building.