School Board Retains Tax Rate, Accepts Bid to Tear Down Houses

By Sue Curry Jones
Annual formalities were the focus of the Ava R-I School Board meeting Thursday, August 17. Prior to the monthly session, however, the board convened at 6:15 p.m. for the annual tax rate hearing. During the hearing, Superintendent Dr. Jason Dial acknowledged that this is a reassessment year, consequently assessment values had risen to $8.65 million, going from last year’s value of $95,925,365 to $104,583,279.
Dial noted the assessed valuation totals for 2017 are as follows, by category:
residential     $52,004,650;
commercial      15,342,161;
agricultural     4,612,460;
personal     32,624,008.
With the reassessment, if all taxes are paid, the school will receive an additional $575,000, Dial advised.
Board members voted to retain the state minimum tax rate of $2.75. The vote was unanimous.
Dial noted monthly bills are considerably higher this month due to several expenses – purchases made for the new school year, a lease purchase payment of $306,268.11, and a payment of $109,402 to Stiles Roofing. The roofing project, which is nearing completion, presently encompasses the kindergarten wing, third-grade classrooms, and elementary kitchen. Dial also provided an annual history of fund balances:
2017     $3,988,931.25
2016     $4,352,318.76
2015     $5,391,408.86
2014     $4,448,450
2013     $4,434,014
2012     $3,920,207
Dial advised the auditors recently visited the administration office for the annual budget review, and the process went smoothly. Originally last year’s budget was set for deficit spending of $1,200,000; however, the year ended with a deficit just under $176,000. He noted the full accounting report will be presented in the fall.
Additional voting actions taken by the board include the following:
• Annual Secretary of the Board Report, an annual financial summary required by the state, was adopted as presented. The report is an accounting of expenses and revenues for fiscal year 2017.
• The student tuition rate adopted for 2017-18 is now $6,895.58. This is a $39.80 increase from last year, and the rate of $6,855.78.
• A cost of $1,223.36 per student for busing was approved for the ensuing year. This cost factor shows an increase of $327, and according to Dial, the increase is due to expenses incurred last year. He noted per student costs will likely decrease next year.
• Board members adopted the Conflict of Interest Ordinance financial policy section, as it must be revisited every other year. This action is required by the Missouri Ethics Commission, and passage must meet a Sept. 15 deadline.
• Special Education Compliance Plan as recommended by Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) was adopted as Ava’s format for meeting state and federal regulations, and for complying with the Individuals with Disabilities Act.
• The board accepted a bid on razing two houses now owned by the school. Dotson Excavating, of Cabool met the qualifications and offered the lowest cost of $11,200. Three houses will be demolished, however, Dial said the City of Ava will take financial responsibility for one of the tear-down locations.
• Three additional names were added to the substitute bus driver list, with approved drivers noted as Casey Ewing, Tommy Scrivner, and Karen Vinson.
All actions were passed with a unanimous vote.
In the superintendent’s report, Dr. Dial advised the enrollment numbers for this year are showing an increase on the first day of school. He noted last year student count registered 1255, and this year, 1281, noting 26 additional students. However, Dial cautioned attendance will fluctuate until after Labor Day, and soon thereafter it will even out.
First day enrollment in middle school was 418 students, and in high school, students totaled 424.
After collecting extra funds from in-house venues, Dial reported the administration was able to upgrade technology with the purchase of 268 Chromebooks for student use. The school was also able to increase bandwidth (data transfer speed), an upgrade that will occur in September. He noted 1400 protective glasses have been purchased for students to view the eclipse on August 21. Parental permission is required for student participation, and permission slips have been sent home with students.
Assistant Superintendent Aaron Dalton reported the campus wide open house held Tuesday, Aug. 15 was a success, and for those students transitioning into a new campus environment, it is a big deal. He said the ‘getting acquainted’ time is especially important for youths entering preschool, kindergarten, middle school, and freshmen in high school.
The district spotlight recognized new teachers for the year, including: Rick Supancic, high school social studies; Allison Parish, 7th-grade math; Cheryl Beason, 4th-grade; Emily Sterling, 1st-grade; Becky Lakey, middle school special education; Morgan Loftin, 6th-grade math; Weston Loftin, physical education/health; Crystal Miller, high school social studies/English/Drury learning lab. The 2017 Ava School Project was acknowledged in the community spotlight.
Board members present were Mark Henry, Vernon Johnson, Kenny Fleetwood, Bart Ellison, Michael Stewart, Lowell Strong and Troy Treadway.
The board will reconvene on Thursday, Sept. 21, at 6:30 p.m.
Meeting video may be viewed on the Douglas County Herald website.