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Informational meeting on funding will be held Oct. 27 at the Ava Performing Arts Center
By Sue Curry Jones
Budget reductions and modifications for fiscal year 2013 were the central focus of the Ava R-1 School board session last Thursday evening.
A basic overview of the school’s economic conundrum was presented by Superintendent Brian Wilson along with insight and counsel on various budget items. Wilson guided the group through program areas where potential cuts or adjustments could be put into practice. He also advised the proposed list of cuts should be well-examined over the ensuing month before any decisions are finalized.
Programs under scrutiny are:
• Eliminate block scheduling and re-instate period scheduling, with the option of implementing an eight-period day instead of seven.
• Discontinue capital improvement projects for the year.
• Establish a 10% cut in supplies at every level and area (except food service). If implemented in 2013, this would save $28,811.
• Review all costs associated with Vo-Tech classes at Mountain Grove, an expense that presently serves eight students.
• Assess the costs associated with the driver education class; instead, consider a fee paid class or summer school program.
• Tweak or modify the gifted program by limiting hours, or move to after school.
• Research the cost benefit of creating on-line courses for classes with only 3-4 students.
• Consider a change in insurance providers and select a firm that will cover un-reimbursed fees. The district presently covers those fees as an out-of-pocket expense.
• Delay technology updates and expenditures.
Wilson advised “we need to look at costs that can be modified or cut and still provide good educations for our students. Fund balances aren’t as strong.”
Referencing a possible change in the block scheduling format, board member Larry Silvey expressed to the group and the administration the importance of providing detailed information to parents and students on the merits of block and period scheduling formats. Silvey advised the group that disseminating the proper information to parents was imperative, and the school has a responsibility to make sure parents have a thorough understanding.
In response to the budge issues, Ava R-1 and Dr. Brian Wilson are hosting an open forum on Thursday, Oct. 27, (today) at the Ava Performing Arts Center beginning at 6:30 p.m. Parents and community members are urged to attend the informal session. The meeting is a time for the public to ask questions, express concerns, and learn more about funding and the proposed cuts.
In a 7-0 vote, the board adopted a new policy which will limit the dollar amount teachers and administrators can charge on the school procurement card. The card, which is similar to a charge card, previously allowed excessive credit limits and the latitude to charge costly items. Wilson asked the board to reduce the amounts, cap the charges at $2,000 per building, and reduce the liability for the school. Board members concurred.
A recommendation to adjust the school’s policy for handling unpaid cafeteria charges was tabled after a brief discussion by the board. As a part of the suggestion, Dr. Wilson recommended a course of action that would disallow students with outstanding balances from partaking in extra-activities. However, board members did not embrace the recommendation, and further questioned the act of ostracizing a student for the parent’s failure to maintain a current account. Board member Larry Silvey asked Wilson to provide the number of students in arrears and the outstanding dollar amount so board members could review the issue.
Reporting on the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program, assistant principal David Williams reported the start date for the initiative is Tuesday, Nov. 1, and the schedule has been set as follows:
In elementary and middle school, the after-school program offers:
Monday – Friday
2:50 – 3:15 Pre-K decompression
3:15 – 3:40 K-8 decompression
3:45 – 4:15 dinner & clean-up
4:00 – 5:00 two 30-minute tutoring sessions
4:15 – 4:45 Homework help
4:45 – 6:15 Enrichment
6:20 Buses leave
Times and topics created for high school/adult education students are:
Monday – Friday
3:30 – 6:30 Library open
Monday – Thursday
3:30 – 4:30 Focus tutoring
3:30 – 6:30 Enrichment courses
6:20 Buses leave
The 21st Century after-school program has been named “The Bears Den”, with program fees approved by the board, as follows: $1 per day, per student; $ .75 for reduced lunch students; $ .50 for free lunch; and a $10 cap per family, per week. Bus routes for the evening program will be comparable to the summer school routes. Assistant principal David Williams serves as director of the program.
In elementary, Principal Diane Premer reports the building recently practiced emergency drill skills, and students carried out emergency procedures for fire, tornado, earthquake and lockdown situation.
She also noted students in the grades kindergarten through second had recently established their first benchmark test. Some of the results were:
Kindergarten (Letter Naming): 69.8% on level; 14.5% emerging; and 15.4% deficient.
First grade (Letter Sounds): 81% on level; 9% emerging; 10% deficient. (Phonics) 70.7% on level; 17.6% emerging; 11.4 deficient.
Second grade (Reading Fluency): 65.5% on level; 23.6% emerging; 10.7% efficient; (Comprehension) 59% on level; 25% emerging; 15% deficient.
October enrollment totals for Ava Elementary are 485 students.
Principal Cody Hirschi reports middle school parent-teacher conferences are set for the evening of Thursday, Oct. 27. Food will be available in the middle school cafeteria starting at 5 p.m., and during that time, parents have the opportunity to learn more about the Bear’s Den after-school program and register their child.
Middle school students cited for showing excellent citizenship skills during September were:
Casey Choate and Sierra Shannon, fifth grade;
A.J. Vanvalkenburg and Hailey Pedersen, 6th grade;
Nate Crandall and Allyson Shots, 7th grade;
Hayden Schuster and Abby Hampton, 8th grade.
Enrollment for the month at Ava Middle School was 407 students.
High school Principal Teresa Nash cited the Ava Pride Marching Band for achieving finals in the Ozark Mountain Marching Festival competition in Reeds Springs, where the band’s marching performance placed second in their division. Nash said enrollment in the band program has increased this year with 45 members in 5th grade band; 45 members in 6th grade; 7th – 8th grade band, 52 students; and high school band with 41.
Nash noted an ACT workshop will be held Friday, Nov. 18, at Willow Springs High School. The workshop is open to students in the ACT Prep class and offers the students insight on how to improve their test scores. Students must pay a $30 workshop fee by Wednesday, Nov. 9, if they plan to attend.
Maintenance Supervisor Monty Valentine reports the school air conditioning controllers have been replaced, and the fire alarm is now in operation. Both were harmed by the lightning strike.
Valentine said the crew continues to work outside around the campus buildings while the weather is still pleasant. However, mowing around the school grounds and the athletic complex is starting to slow down, and the landscaping project at the elementary is nearing completion.
Dr. Nancy Lawler, assistant superintendent, said she had been reviewing and revising the tutoring guidelines. She has also been spending time with Principal Cody Hirschi putting together the middle school improvement plan and supplemental education services.
Lawler noted a physics and math program will be offered at Silver Dollar City. The program showcases the behind the scene operations of the park’s roller coaster Wildfire, and will be attended by Lawler, Trish Haltom, Buffy Strong, Jason Snelson, Charlie McDonald and Laryme Campbell.
The special education program review presented by Connie Lee, special services director, was approved by the board. The vote was 7-0.
In her monthly report, Lee cited a busy month of testing, with eight initial tests and 16 re-evaluations. She also noted attending the MO CASE Conference at TanTarA in September, and the opportunity to learn more about how to increase the achievement level in a special education student.
The Ava Board Spotlight paid tribute to several members of the Highway Church of the Nazarene for their help this past summer painting walls and hallways in the middle school building. The group was recognized and presented with a certificate of appreciation by board president Randy Spurlock.
The board approved the payment of bills totaling $195,206.06 and the financial summary of fund balances.
Board members in attendance were Ron Wallace, Regina Porter, Randy Spurlock, Pat Henry, Marsha Aborn, Larry Silvey and Johnny Burkdoll.