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Board Continues to Review Proposed Upgrades for Athletic Field, Revives Resource Officer Subject

By Sue Curry Jones

Moving forward in the process to remodel the Ava R-1 School District Athletic Complex, board members further discussed options for the proposed site. However, it was evident last Thursday evening, if the board chooses to make the plan a reality, there will be many options to consider, and most of those choices will be dictated by cost factors and the availability of funds.

During the session, Supt. Brian Wilson gave a brief snapshot overview of potential options surrounding the project, and most of those choices will hinge on money. Some of the items mentioned, but not discussed, were the following:

– a standard size 8-lane track vs 6-lane track;

– covered stadium entry vs open entry;

– locker room facility with ade­quate storage inside the building vs a portable storage building placed on the west side of the complex;

– the position of the 3600 sq. ft. field house and whether or not dirt from the existing site can be used to create a foundation, or if additional dirt must be trucked to the location.

While explaining components of the site-plan, Supt. Wilson noted expenses associated with some of the items have not been finalized. Financial components of the project, along with proposed interest rates and recent architectural updates should be in-house by Feb. 11, and Wilson suggested the board hold a special meeting to analyze the project. Consequently. a meeting was set for Monday, Feb. 11, 5 p.m., at which time the board will discuss funding opportunities, interest rates and project details.

In conclusion, Wilson said “even with a release for bids, it doesn’t mean we have to accept it.  We can always go back to the drawing board.”

Another agenda item inducing an impromptu discussion was Ava R-1 School’s annual safety program evaluation. The report, approved with a 7-0 vote and motions from Ron Wallace and Marsha Aborn, stimulated thoughts of recent school shootings and brought the possible need for resource officer(s) to the forefront.

The topic prompted a request from school board member Ron Wallace, who prefaced his opinion by saying he fully understood the board cannot foolproof the entire school. However, Wallace noted, it is important for the board to look at every possibility for keeping the school system safe, and that includes the decision to place officers in the school.

“We must consider anything a school system can do to improve the safety of our children,” Wallace said.

Board member Larry Silvey reinforced the need for gathering additional information on the issue by saying, “the idea would be worthwhile to pursue”.

Wallace recommended starting a dialogue with county commissioners and city officials to gain community awareness and insight. The board agreed to gather info and investigate pro­spects for partnering with other agencies.

The safety program assessment was presented by middle school principal Mike Henry.

Principal Diana Premer reported the elementary school was planning to hold a Pizza Night kick-off for the WATCH D.O.G.S. program on Thursday, Jan. 31.  D.O.G.S., an acronym for Dads of Great Students, is a program that promotes father figures within the school by asking fathers, grandfathers, uncles, step-fathers, and other father figures to volunteer and provide positive role models, and boost building security.

Included in the report, Premer said 455 students had celebrated their success for following the Bear Code by participating in a dance held in the elementary gym.  Students had fun doing the Hokey Pokey, Cha Cha Slide, Macarena and other dances.

In closed session, board members added one-year to the contract of Dr. Brian Wilson, and accepted notice from Julie Taylor, high school librarian, that she was resigning as sponsor of Trend, and STUCO. High school counselor Jeff Martin tendered his resignation letter, with plans to retire at the end of this school term. Martin has worked in the district 14 years.

Ava R-I’s federal / state contacts  were approved in a 7-0 vote, noting the following designations:

Connie Lee, Special Ed Director

– Homeless Coordinator;

– Migrant Coordinator;

– English as Second Language;

– Special Education;

– 504 Coordinator;   and

– Foster Care;

Monty Valentine, Maintenance

– Safety Director;

Dr. Nancy Lawler, Asst. Supt.  

– Title I;  and

– Compliance Coordinator;

Rex Sawyer, Athletic Director

– Title IX.

Motions to accept the designations were given by Johnny Burkdoll and Larry Silvey.

Board members also voted 7-0 to continue the school’s relationship with the firm of Davis, Lynn & Moots, PC, of Springfield.  The firm oversees the annual audit process.

Principal Mike Henry noted middle school basketball wrapped up last week. Henry said discipline issues in the middle school continue to improve.

High school principal Teresa Nash noted the counseling department is disseminating scholarship info and working with students to fill out the applications.  Nash also noted Ava High School received a positive write-up from Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSSA) regarding the positive sportsmanship demonstrated at the Jan. 7, AHS Girls Basketball game.  The acknowledgement commended the coaches, players and Ava crowd.

Dr. Nancy Lawler reported staff members participated in three presentations during the teacher in-service day Tuesday, Jan. 2.   The daylong agenda focused on the power of words, and the following topics:

– students with disabilities; how teachers must differentiate to meet their special needs;

– student safety, and the Internet;

– motivating students by maxim­izing the power of words.

Dr. Brian Wilson informed the group that the State of Missouri had received their national report card that examines state education policy and performance, and the grade was an overall C.  This is up slightly from last year’s C-.  The “Quality Counts 2013” report, which was released January 10, 2013, shows Missouri sitting slightly below the national average of C+.

For the second consecutive year, the state ranks 41st nationwide.

The report focuses on three areas that impact education:

Chance for success, which looks at factors relating to educational achievement, such as family income, parental education levels, employ­ment status, elementary reading scores, middle school math scores, graduation rates, college rates and employment rates.

Transitions and alignment, which reviews policies connecting K-12 education with early learning, higher education and the workforce.

School finance analysis, which examines funding issues, percent of taxable state resources spent on education, and spending disparities among school districts.

Missouri’s Top 10 by 10 initiative calls for the state to rank in the top 10 in education by the year 2020.

In a 7-0 vote, the board accepted the food service program review, with motions from Ron Wallace and Pat Henry.  According to the report from Carla Aborn, Director of Nutrition Services and Opaa! Food Service, it has been chal­lenging to convince students school lunches are not depriving them of food, but helping them acquire healthy, nutritious habits.  The new menus being served in the school cafeterias now fall under guidelines put forth from the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. Under this federal initiative, sweets, desserts and baked goods have been omitted from the mealtime diet, and students are provided more vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

It was acknowledged that student participation in the meal program was down 12%.

In the report, which showcased a comparison between Oct.-Nov.-Dec. 2011, and Oct.-Nov.-Dec. 2012, the participation rate for 2011 lunches scored 88%, whereas in 2012, participation falls to 80%. Breakfast, however, stayed rather steady with 29.9% in 2011, and 29.4% in 2012.

Nonetheless, a positive compo­nent of the report demonstrated that the cafeteria program is no longer losing money, but showing a net profit of $41,901.34.

In other business, Wilson asked the board to consider extending the salary placement for incoming educators and expand the schedule  to 30 years of experience / step 18.  At present, the scale stops at 15 years of experience and step 11.  Larry Silvey advised the board that this task was a topic for the salary committee to review and assess.

The board opted to wait for the committee’s recommendation.

School board members approved the parent – community involvement program review.  Motions to accept were from Pat Henry and Marsha Aborn. The vote was 7-0.

Bills totaling $176,530.21 were approved for payment.

The Ava R-I Board Spotlight acknowledged the owners of Sonic, and their support for several school programs.  The spotlight also recognized teachers in the middle school eMINTS program for their work ethic and devotion to the program.  eMINTS is a specialized  teaching plan that advocates high-quality lessons, question-based learning, technology-rich environ­ments and a sense of community between students and teachers.

Board members present were Ron Wallace, Johnny Burkdoll, Regina Porter, Randy Spurlock, Pat Henry, Marsha Aborn, and Larry Silvey.

The next monthly session of the school board is slated for Thursday, Feb. 21, 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Education room.  The board will also reconvene on Monday, Feb. 11, to discuss and review strategies and financial offerings associated with the proposed athletic field project.