Ava R-1 School Board Sets Tax Rate, Approves Bus Cameras

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

The Ava R-1 School Board convened for their regular monthly meeting last Thursday, August 15th. 

Closed Session

During the Board’s closed session they accepted the resignation of Rick Supancic, who taught High School History. 

The board hired Tim Hebron to fill that slot, and also hired Kevin Armstrong as Assistant Basketball Coach.

Tax Rate Hearing

At 6:15 p.m., the board began a tax rate hearing. The Board re-set the existing rate, 2.75%, which is the lowest allowable levy rate allowed by the State of Missouri.

Open Session

At 6:30 p.m. the board began the open session by recognizing newly-hired teachers (see August 15th edition of the Herald for names and photos of all new teachers).

Principal/Director Reports

The board then heard reports from the leader of each school or department.

Elementary

Dr. Clint Hall reported that the first day of school had gone well, with students enjoying assemblies, games, picture-taking, and lunch.

Middle School

Ava Middle School Principal Patricia Nelson reported that her students also enjoyed first-day expectation-setting assemblies. She was also happy to have 52 additional Chromebooks for student use.

High School 

Dr. Teresa Nash reported that her high schoolers also enjoyed an assembly, where staff set expectations for the year and went over school handbook changes. 

Special Services

Director Erin Swofford reported that Special Services was happy with their new offices, and that they had enrolled 10 new students while 11 previous students were no longer in the program.

Maintenance

Mr. Valentine said that the maintenance crew was busy with work related to school opening, and kept busy completing the new maintenance shed as time allows.

Administration Reports

Dr. Dial reported that summer school hours had increased the equivalent of five students. He updated the board on preschool playground improvements, and described efforts to get all three preschool locations licensed.

Mr. Dalton reported that Ava teachers tried a different approach to summer personal development time than they had previously. Each content area team met to address curriculum and assessment. This approach helped the time spent to be more relevant to the teachers. Dalton also described upcoming personal development events that other local school systems could send teachers to.

Action Items

The Board discussed several action items during the meeting (all items needing a vote were voted in 7-0).

Secretary of the Board Report

Dr. Dial reported that the recent audit went well and that the fund balances were strong – up $493K over last year.

Special Education Compliance Plan

Erin Swofford described the school’s requirement to file a compliance plan with the state that describes how the Special Services department plans to meet all of the state and federal requirements.

Mrs. Swofford described three options for creating the plan and recommended the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) model, which the board approved.

Tuition Rate

Dr. Dial reported that Ava has three K-8 feeder districts, as well as one student from another district opting into Ava R-1 High School. The school needs to be able to set a tuition rate for these students, based on school expenses. The board approved this year’s rate of $6891.72, compared to $6873.03 for last year.

Transportation Rate

Dr. Dial said that the school doesn’t ever charge this rate, but the school establishes it in case a situation comes up where the school would be hauling kids from out of the district. The board approved a rate of $1090.20.

Nursing Contract

According to Dr. Dial, the Board approved a primary nursing contract in June. This contact is a secondary contract that allows the school to pull nurses from two different pools as staff shortages develop. The board approved a contract with BAYADA.

Conflict of Interest

The Missouri Ethics Commission requires the board complete personal financial disclosure documents. The board approved a revised version of the document to be submitted to the state.

Policy Service

According to Dr. Dial, every school board uses one of two Policy Services. The service helps the board keep up with relevant law and policy changes. The rate for the service is $3479, which the board approved.

Trip Bus Purchase

Dr. Dial reported that the current large trip bus needs to be replaced as it has over 250K miles and is leaking oil from a broken front case on the motor. The school located a suitable replacement bus in Little Rock, Arkansas – a 2017 Bluebird with 45K miles available for a selling price of $77,500.  

Dial reported that the school could pay for the new bus outright, or could finance a portion of it to free up some capital. He requested loan estimates from local banks for a two year loan for $50,000. Great Southern in Springfield had the lowest rate of 2.99%. 

Dial’s recommendation was to take advantage of the availability of financing as there was no penalty for pre-payment. 

The board approved Dial’s recommendation to purchase the bus, with partial financing from Great Southern.

Trip Bus Sale

With the new trip bus approved, the board approved declaring the current trip bus as surplus property to allow the school to begin to take bids on it.

Bus Cameras

In the only action item marked by significant discussion, the board voted to outfit all contractor main buses and all district-owned buses with tamperproof cameras from 24/7 Security at a total approximate cost of $55,000K. 

Dr. Dial reported that the bus drivers wanted following conditions:

District to cover the cost of all cameras and installation and maintenance.

No live viewing

Contractors to be able to view footage from home.

Each bus would have a stop-arm camera.

The board’s discussion covered the mechanics of getting to the video footage, placement of the cameras, and how the stop-arm camera could help find car drivers who chose to ignore a stopped bus with the arm out. 

But mostly, it was about who could view the footage and where it should be viewed.

Deena Parsick didn’t want casual viewing of the footage. “I don’t believe the cameras need to be viewed unless there’s an issue on the bus,” she said.  “It could be a parent complaining, a kid complaining, or the bus driver feeling like there’s an issue.”

Mark Henry felt video footage shouldn’t be available by single parties in private. “I don’t think there’s any need for anyone to access the footage from the cameras at home,” he said. “The drivers should have access to the footage, but only in the company of an administrator and only on school computers.”

The board agreed, voting unanimously to purchase the cameras but with footage available only if there was an issue, viewed in the company of a school administrator, and only on school computers.

MSBA Policy Update

The board was given some policy updates to review before the next school board meeting. 

Video

View the video footage of the meeting on DouglasCountyHerald.com.

Next Meeting

September 19th, at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.