Ava R-1 School Board: Financials OK for This Year, Next Year Still Uncertain

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

The Ava R-1 School Board convened for their regular monthly meeting last Thursday, May 21st.

Attendance

Board member Bart Ellison was absent for this meeting.

Closed Session

During the closed session that began at 6:00 p.m., the board accepted the resignations of:

  • Angela McKay
  • Tara Lininger
  • Erin Swofford 
  • Terry Philpott (retiring)

The board hired:

  • Charles McDonald, Skills USA & 3 extra contract days
  • Cathy Rahder, 2nd Grade
  • Kim Woods, HS Math
  • Buffy Strong and April Britt, MS Student Council
  • Reagan Quackenbush, HS JAG
  • Edward Sands, HS Special Education and Assistant Football
  • Mikaela Bristol, Paraprofessional

Administrator Reports

Dr. Jason Dial reported that Douglas County representatives had contacted the school to discuss the recent CARES Act funds made available to the county. Ava Schools will receive $42,000 of the $1.5 million received by Douglas County.

Ava Schools will use those funds for its own COVID-19 response, as well as make related services available to other non-public schools in the county.

Dial went on to discus other financial impacts to the school stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The state expects to see $500 million – $700 million in cuts. Casinos and lotteries have been shut down and we usually see revenue from those,” Dial said. “We’ll probably see $100K – $120K less revenue this year.  We’ll be OK for this year, but next year is uncertain. We will probably be deficit spending next year.”

According to Dial, the financial situation remained dynamic with further communications from Missouri Governor Mike Parson scheduled for early June.

Details and approaches on how to re-open school this coming fall are still being determined, and will depend on what social distancing requirements remain in place at that time.

Assistant Superintendent Aaron Dalton talked about how the schools were both increasing communication to parents, and seeing increased response from them.

“Normally when we put out a survey we get like a pretty average response rate,” he said. “This time we heard back from 1200 of 1250 surveys sent.”

Dalton also discussed challenges the school was facing when it came to running summer schools online. “When we surveyed students we found that 65% had internet access,” Dalton said. “In practice it was more like 50/50 with half not having reliable, consistent enough internet access to do online schooling with.”

Action Items

The board voted on the following items.

Bank Bids

In a 6-0 vote, the board approved to re-contract with Stockmens Bank. 

During the discussion Dr. Dial mentioned that the school currently has around $5.9 million on deposit, and that due to the school being a public entity there were additional requirements from the bank in order to secure those funds.

Asbestos Removal

In a 6-0 vote, the board approved hiring Koncen Construction to remove asbestos flooring from the elementary school.

Flooring Installation

In a 6-0 vote, the board approved a bid of $30,000 from Stoneridge Construction for flooring installation in Ava Elementary School.

Elementary School Main Entry

In a 5-1 vote, the board approved a bid of $51,820 from Greg Crawford Construction for the installation of a secure entryway at the Ava Elementary School.

Board Member Dan Johnson voted against the project, after pointing out that there are other buildings housing elementary students that are less secure than the main elementary school building. Johnson felt the funds either ought to be held back, based on the uncertainty of the future, or possibly invested in a storm shelter located more closely to the elementary school.

Handbook Changes

In a 6-0 vote, the board approved requested changes to the school handbook for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Next Meeting

The next board meeting will be held June 16th, and will include the post-election board reorganization starting at 6:15 p.m. in the Board of Education Room.

Meetings are open to the public.