Ava R-1 School Board Approves Plan to Sue Vaping Industry

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

The Ava R-1 School Board held its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, October 17th at 6:30 p.m.

Board members Mark Henry, Kenny Fleetwood, and Deana Parsick were absent. 

The board did contact Mark Henry via telephone, as motions to pay bills to Dan Johnson and Jeff Ellison each had a board member abstaining. Henry supplied the additional vote needed for a majority.

Board members commented on their recent attendance of the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) / Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA) conference held September 26-29 in Osage Beach, MO. 

“All the sessions were very informational,” said Brandi Stanifer. “The most informative one I went to was about diversity in the schools,” said Dan Johnson. “Lots of kids go through our schools and never get noticed. We need to try and notice everybody.”

The Board recognized high school English teacher Zach Hamby for being a recent finalist for 2020 Missouri Teacher of the Year. They also recognized Valerie Reese of the Douglas County Health Department and Rebecca Gann of the MOCH center for their efforts to equip the Ava schools with Narcan products and training.

Principal/Director Reports

Ava Elementary School Principal Dr. Clint Hall said his students recently enjoyed celebrating Missouri Day.

Ava High School Principal Dr. Teresa Nash congratulated the new FFA Grasslands team on heading to state finals, and the girl’s softball team on their season-ending win.

Special Services Director Erin Swofford reported that they had two teachers receive training in developing after-school resources for the High School.

Middle School Principal Patty Nelson and Food Service director Carla Aborn did not attend the meeting, although they appeared on the agenda.

Administrators Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jason Dial reported that he was pursuing a grant to help fund a new handicapped bus. He said that monies are available as part of the Volkswagen lawsuit/settlement. Dial also mentioned the just-received $20K grant for STEM curriculum, hardware, and training. He updated the board on the recent ransomware attack, saying all software and hardware upgrades were completed. He said that the schools network is no longer being accessed remotely.

Assistant Superintendent Aaron Dalton reported that Ava schools are at or above state average in academic achievement, college and career readiness, attendance, and graduation rates.

Discussion/Action Items

All of the following action items were approved by the board in 4-0 votes.

Facilities

Monty Valentine reported that the Facilities and Ground crews had kept busy over the summer, remodeling the Special Services building, installing new playground equipment for the preschoolers, and helping build the new maintenance building.

Early Childhood Program

Dr. Clint Hall reported on Ava’s Early Childhood Program. All three of the preschool facilities are now licensed. The program is serving the highest number of children ever at 109 and Hall has plans to expand it next year. Dr. Dial clarified that the program only serves four-year-olds as they would be entering school the following year. Dial noted the program could probably serve as many three year olds if there were facilities and staffing for them.

Vaping Policy

Ava High School Assistant Principal Nathan Houk presented an updated vaping policy for the schools, with stronger punishments for repeat offenders. The policy also includes educational aspects to go with the disciplinary actions. Houk noted that the schools had already experienced 17 vaping infractions this year, compared to 14 for the entire 2018/2019 school year.

Vaping Litigation

Dr. Dial asked the board for permission to engage with Kansas City Attorneys Wagstaff and Cartmell and join a class action lawsuit against vaping manufacturers. Dial said he expected the schools to have to install vape detectors in the future at a cost of $20K each. He didn’t expect the lawsuit to be resolved quickly, nor did he expect that it would lead to a windfall for the school, but hoped for some amount of reimbursement. He said the action had no cost to the school, and they could withdraw at any time.

Closed Session

In the closed portion of the meeting, the board hired Amy Lumley as High School Secretary.

Video

View the video footage of the meeting on DouglasCountyHerald.com

Next Meeting

The next regular board meeting will be held November 21st at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.