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School Board Holds Regular Session Monday Evening

By Sue Curry Jones

The Ava school board convened on Monday, Oct. 21, for the regular monthly session of the board.

Discussions and actions during the meeting comprised the following:

• The Annual Secretary of the Board Report, which is submitted to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, was approved with a 7-0 vote.  Motions to accept were by Johnny Burkdoll and Marsha Aborn.

• Policy updates and changes were adopted via a 7-0 vote, with motions by Pat Henry and Johnny Burkdoll.

In the decision, two policies were revised as recommended. One of the changes streamlined and edited the board member qualification section. The other revision, which dealt with child abuse and neglect, was revised to demand that all incidents and reports are made immediately and directly to proper authorities. The change eliminates first reporting to a principal or adminis­trator.

• New teacher evaluation tools, which were submitted during the last board meeting, were approved in a 7-0 vote. Motions were by Dan Watson and Johnny Burkdoll.

The board adopted four teaching skills as primary focal points for the evaluation process.  Assess­ments will be based on: classroom man­age­ment, curric­ulum imple­menta­tion, instruc­tional strate­gies, and student en­gagement.

• In a 7-0 vote, the board selected Kymber Koop, a senior, as Ava’s representative for the Missouri School Board Association Belcher Scholarship.  Four seniors vied for the position by writing a one-page essay stating interests and reasons for applying.

Koop will now attend regionals where she has the opportunity to win $1,000; and, if selected at regionals, she will continue on to state where she has a chance to receive $2500.

• Voting 7-0, the board allowed the transfer of bus no. 10 from Pablo Zamora to Randy Jenkins.  Motions were by Marsha Aborn and Johnny Burkdoll.

• The annual facilities and campus grounds program was approved as presented. Motions to accept were from Pat Henry and Dan Watson, and the vote 7-0.

In the review, it was again noted expenses associated with the athletic field im­provement project are being closed out, and numbers continue to show unused funds totaling around $100,000.  Wilson advised that the balance could be earmarked for future pro­jects, such as repairs to the east side of the high school roof; middle school roof, north side; and campus side­walk repairs. It was also noted the high school needs to be more handicap accessible.

Additional improvement projects will be determined at a later date.

• The annual special education department report, which defines services provided during the previous school years, was approved 7-0. Motions were from Pat Henry and Marsha Aborn.

• In a 7-0 vote, the board okayed payment of bills.

Elementary Principal Clint Hall advised kindergarten through second-grade students will be recognized through the Bear Cub Club this year.  The new Club will focus on student attendance and behavior, and for students to be eligible, they must qualify with an attendance of 90 percent or higher.  They must also show zero office referrals and meet standard behavior goals for their grade level.

For example, on the kindergarten grade card there are 10 behavior standards.  To be eligible for the Club, students would need to be at mastery or progressing on 8 of the 10 standards (80%).

Hall said the new standards-based grading does not lend to a traditional honor roll system for early grades, so the Bear Cub Club program is a way to recognize youths that come every day, work hard and make good choices.  The students will get their names in the paper and receive certificates of recognition during an assembly.

The Honor Roll remains in place for 3rd and 4th grade.

Superintendent Brian Wilson said an application for a Missouri Pre-School Project (MPP) grant award is presently being assembled for Ava schools.  The deadline for the funding application is October 30.

Wilson said, if Ava qualifies, the grant provides $60,000 annually for five years and would allow the pre-school program to expand and serve 10 more students and hire another teacher. The expansion could be implemented as early as January or February.

At present, the program is unable to fully accommodate students, and there is a waiting list for entry at the three-year-old level.

Wilson also noted a $2,000 health grant was awarded to the school and will be used for projects sponsored by the Leadership Class and sponsor Liz Kyger.

Jon Doane, director of technology, reported the school’s phone system and network access points have become obsolete, as the number of administrators, staff and students outnumber the capacity level of both systems. Technology usage has tripled from the 400 devices the system was initially set up to accommodate. The system now supports 1100 users, including eMints laptops, teacher laptops, Bears Den iPads, as well as computer labs in each building.  As a result, the system functions slowly or fails to carry the load.

Doane noted other area schools have addressed similar problems by implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program.  The program allows students to bring personal cell phones, iPads or other devices for use in the classroom where they also utilize their own web connection for classroom activities. Doane cautioned that each device would still be properly filtered for student use.

It was noted the BYOD program is being used in Chillicothe, Mo. and several other area schools.  Doane said implementing that type of program for middle and high school students would ease use and demand on the existing system, and open up access points for the elementary building.  However, in considering the option, the board also recognized that this type of program would need to be supported by teachers, students, staff and parents.

Doane advised that educational standards will continue to progress utilizing technology, and investing in a wireless system for middle and high school students may be the best decision, so school classrooms do not lag behind.

He also recommended increasing the internet speed from 20MB to 50MB.  In the discussion, it was noted a wireless upgrade would cost around $25,000, and the bandwidth upgrade $2,500 annually.

No decisions were reached, and on the board’s request, the topic was tabled until next month.

During closed session, the board hired John Johnson, of Ava, to fill a position as a middle school special education paraprofessional.

The Ava R-1 Board Spotlight recognized Carla Aborn, as a district employee, and Lacey Wallace, as a community volunteer.

Aborn, the director of nutrition services at Ava, was acknowledged for achieving the President’s Circle award during the 2013 Leadership Retreat, Opaa! Food Management conference.  At the convention, and on Monday evening, Aborn was recognized for demonstrating a high level of achievement in managing the school nutrition program.

As community volunteer, Lacey Wallace was acknowledged for organizing and coordinating the school supply give-a-way project.  For the annual event, volunteers and businesses join together to meet the needs of students, and generously provide supplies and backpacks to families, free of charge.

The honorees received certificates of appreciation from the board.

School board members attending the meeting were Pat Henry, Jeff Davis, Johnny Burkdoll, Randy Spurlock, Ron Wallace, Marsha Aborn, and Dan Watson.