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Board Receives Timeline for Renovations to Athletic Complex; Assistant High School Principal

Annual program reviews were the emphasis of the Ava R-1 School Board agenda Monday evening during the regular monthly session of the board.  The board convened on Monday as the standard third Thursday meeting was canceled last week due to inclement weather.

Annual program reviews accepted during the meeting included the Library Media program as presented by Principal Mike Henry; Industrial Technology by Ralph Davison; Vocational Agriculture by Tiffany Kauffman and Brent Lakey; Voca­tional Business by Janell Stewart and Chelsey Gilmore;  Vocational Family and Consumer Sciences by LeeAnn Tomlinson; and Health Ser­vices presented by Wendy Brooke, RN, Elementary Nurse and Bonnee Stafford, RN, Middle / High School Nurse.

All of the classroom and program reviews were accepted with a 7-0 vote.

For the upcoming year, the board voted 7-0 to maintain Opaa! Food Management for 2013-14. The vote accepted the third year on the five-year contract with the firm. Motions were given by Marsha Aborn and Johnny Burkdoll. According to Superintendent Brian Wilson, the decision to use the food service has saved money by pulling the food service program out of a deficit spending mode.  Wilson said the service has garnered a positive bottom line for the cafeteria service program.  He also noted the firm takes responsibility for nutritional standards and fulfilling new guidelines as required by federal mandates and on-going regulations.

Wilson noted district wide, 72% of the student population participate in the Free and Reduced Lunch category.

The approved contract extends from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.

A school calendar for the 2013-14 school year was adopted by the board with motions from Pat Henry and Johnny Burkdoll, and 7-0 vote. The term next fall is slated to begin Thursday, Aug. 8, with new teacher orientation, and workshop and open house on August 13. The first day for students is Thursday, Aug. 15. Christmas break is scheduled to begin on December 23, and runs through January 3, 2014.  On the calendar, spring break consists of two extended weekend breaks, with one March 14 – 17, and an Easter break, April 17 – 21.

The days designated as make-up are: Jan. 20, Feb. 17, May 15, May 16, May 19 and May 20.

As required, the calendar has a total of 171 school days, with 86 days in the first semester and 85 days in the second semester.

After the calendar was approved, Dr. Wilson interjected that the Mis­souri School Board Association continues to discuss options for lengthening the school year term and providing additional funding, if that occurs, the calendar format would probably change.

In closed session, David Williams, assistant high school principal and director of the after-school program entitled Bears Den, submitted his resignation to the board.  Williams has served in the district for 10 years.  During closed, the board also re-employed Dr. Nancy Lawler, Connie Lee, Teresa Nash and Mike Henry for the 2013-14 school year.

Dr. Wilson noted the board is moving forward with plans to hire an elementary principal.  With the announcement of Diana Premer’s retirement several weeks ago, Wilson said the position was posted almost immediately and applications will be accepted through March 1.  The board plans to interview pro­spective candidates the second week in March, and formulate a list of qualified applicants for final consid­eration.  The goal is to have a deci­sion by the April board meeting.

A construction timeline for the upcoming project at the athletic field was provided to board members Monday evening.  The proposed schedule was submitted by the firm managing the project, Sapp Design Associates Architects (SDA), P.C. of Springfield.  The timeline noted the following dates and summarized information:

March 6, 2013: Distribute ad infor­mation to newspapers. SDA will provide ad content.

March 8: Plans and specifications ready for distribution to interested bidders.

March 8 – 11:  Plans submitted to City of Ava for code review and building permit issuance.

March 19: Pre-bid meeting with prospective bidders. SDA will run the meeting.

March 28: Bid deadline.

April 8: Board will meet to approve the lowest/best bid for the project.  (This is a tentative date)

April 9:  SDA will draft contracts between the general contractor selected by the board and the Ava school district.

April 18: General contractor will provide insurance certificates; performance and payment bonds; establish construction schedule; mo­bilize onto the job site; set up trailer, dumpsters, safety fencing, etc. and generate product / shop drawings for engineers to review and approve.

April 25:  Pre-construction meet­ing on-site with general contractors, major subcontractors, City of Ava, utility providers, etc.

April 26: Construction activities will begin with dirt and demolition work, and utility installations…

August 9: Substantial completion deadline. Work is nearly complete. Moving into buildings and press box areas may begin.  General contractor will remove trash dumpsters, temp toilets, trailer, and safety fencing.

August 30: All work should be nearly complete. Details such as payment applications, lien waivers and concluding specifics should be addressed at this time.

Along with the above timeline, the letter from the firm also included a 15-page document outlining instructions to bidders and rules addressing supplementary condi­tions of the project.

During the session, the Board Spotlight recognized the Ava FFA Chapter, sponsors and teachers for the group’s many accomplishments throughout the year.  The students and sponsors were recognized for attaining outstanding levels within the organization by perfecting a host of skills at the local level, but also for achieving recognition at the national level and attaining the highest award an FFA Chapter can receive at a National Convention ––the 3-Star designation.

In the community spotlight, the board recognized Bill Long and Douglas County Emergency Man­agement for dedicated assistance to the school in providing weather updates and warnings.  Long was honored for making timely calls to school officials, and providing a safe environment for students, staff and faculty.

On behalf of the school board, both groups received a certificate of appreciation.

In the superintendent’s report, Dr. Brian Wilson noted the City of Ava and county officials are interested in discussing options for participating in the resource officer program.  Wilson said there were many issues yet to be discussed, such as, overall expectations of the program, costs, payments, and the general logistics of implementing a program.

In conjunction with school safety, Wilson said the Watch D.O.G.S. initiative was going well, and approximately 290 students and “dads” had attended the pizza night kick-off event.  To-date, several dad volunteers have participated in the elementary school program, and the response from staff, students and volunteer “dads” has been positive.

Principal Diana Premer reported student attendance has been down because many students are out with illness or the stomach flu.  However, Premer noted, second-graders taught by Karen Hollrah met the attendance challenge and gained recognition for high attendance this month.

Premer also gave recognition to Juan Hernandez, a 4th-grade student whose artwork has been chosen for display at the Creamery Arts Center in Springfield March 4-25.  The contest is sponsored by the Missouri Art Education Association, and Juan’s piece was submitted by Tracy Griffith, the elementary art teacher.

Dr. Nancy Lawler, assistant superintendent, reported profes­sional development initiatives con­tinue to be a focus at the school.  Lawler said the following requests for professional development training have been approved: Sarah Key, Jo Johnson, Debbie Byers and Mona Bassett to attend the Conference on the Young Years; Connie Lee, Special Education Annual Law Conference; and Wendy Thompson, Missouri Association of School Librarians Association.

Staff members with 15-20 years teaching experience, along with Dr. Lawler, have been meeting to establish an in-house initiative for “trading places”. According to Lawler, the program will allow teachers to directly share in a peer’s teaching experience and learn about responsibilities associated with their position.  Sharing an experience and “walking in someone else’s shoes” can make a difference in growing as a teacher, and learning more about the work environment.

Principal Mike Henry reported student attendance levels were also slightly lower in the middle school, with absences attributed to illness impacting numbers. In conjunction, the middle school is reviewing the current attendance policy, and trying to create options that will inspire better attendance.

Henry said middle school students have been playing intramural basketball, but during the past week, coaches and students started gearing up for track season.

The Bears Den report from David Williams, director of the program, announced the second edition of the Bears Den Newspaper was recently published in partnership with the staff at the Douglas County Herald. Along with this issue, the news-reporting elementary students were invited to KY3 studios, to view a television production of a newscast.

Williams said two of the popular programs in Bears Den this session were Get Fit Basketball with Coach Ann Leonard, and the Zumba class now being offered in middle school.  Randy Lawrence teaches the class. He also noted Love and Logic, a class facilitated by Cara Roberts, is being offered for the second time.

Principal Teresa Nash reports high school academic students for the month of February are Dexter Fish and Harley Barrus.

In the high school report, Nash cited figures from the Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program, which stated 143 students, grades 9-12, enrolled in agriculture last year. The top five SAE entrepreneurship projects for Ava High School FFA members were: dogs, 38 students ; horses, 27; beef, 24; poultry, 11; and rabbits, 5.

Nash noted graduating seniors have opportunities for scholarships, and counselor Katrina Matney has been working diligently to circulate information to the group.

The board voted 7-0 to accept a recommendation from the salary committee to further recognize previous teaching experience by expanding the chart to 30 years and step 18.  Currently the chart ends with 15 years of experience, step 11.  Consequently, adding this revision to the chart allows for better placement on the salary schedule.   According to Dr. Wilson, only one person will currently benefit from the change.

Motions to accept the change were made by Pat Henry and Larry Silvey.

In new business, David Norman approached the board with a plea for the school to lend support from the budget for the Friday Feast, backpack program presently underway and supported by community donations.

Norman noted the program is under the care of Coach Liz Kyger and a group of high school students, and that the program is always seeking funds.  Norman said the program is a worthwhile endeavor, and he felt it would benefit the integrity of the program if the school board would authorize seed money to help keep the efforts in place.  His thoughts were for the board to authorize $6,000 to help support the program, and participate in the effort like other community members such as the Masonic Lodge, where he is a member.

Board member Larry Silvey expressed a desire to act on the request, and inquired of the board, ‘when is the appropriate time to act on this?’  Silvey noted he would like to follow through on this request before his term expires; however, no action was taken.

The board approved minutes from the January meeting and executive session, and the called meeting on February 11.  Monthly bills totaling $204,156.37 were also approved for payment.

The Ava R-1 School Board will meet again Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom located near the Decker Library.  The meeting room entrance is on the north side of the building.