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Ava R-1 Board Meets June 24, New Administrators In Office

Last Thursday, during the opening session of the Ava R-1 School Board meeting, President Randy Spurlock read a letter of resignation from newly selected board member Ann Duckworth. On July 8, Duckworth was chosen by the board to fill a vacated position; however, last week prior to the meeting, she submitted the resignation letter, which noted a conflict of interest.

This session was the first official board meeting facilitated by Dr. Nancy Lawler, superintendent, and Mike Henry, asst. superintendent, and the unexpected resignation fell to the new administrators to oversee. Both were present for the meeting.

During a special meeting held on Tuesday, July 8, Duckworth was selected as the chosen candidate to fill an open seat on the school board, which is a seven member panel. In the session, six qualified candidates, including Duckworth, expressed an interest in serving as a member, and each one shared in the interview and presentation process. With Ann’s recent withdrawal, however, the board will have to reconvene, reassess and select a new candidate to fill the position on the board.

According to Dr. Nancy Lawler, superintendent of Ava schools, the board has scheduled a meeting for Monday, August 11, and at that time board members will select a follow-up candidate from the established list of prospects. The meeting, which starts at 5:15 p.m., will provide the opportunity to re-interview candidates –– a roster that includes: Bart Ellison, Mitch Goss, Vernon Johnson, Scott Stark and Regina Porter.

Ann’s resignation was accepted in a 6-0 vote, with motions from Ron Wallace and Dan Watson.

Superintendent Nancy Lawler re­ported the fieldhouse roof at the athletic field is leaking in the locker rooms due to low spots in the roof, and the problem needs to be repaired before school starts. Due to the extent of the damage and type of roof, Lawler recommended engaging a roofing company to make the repair, for an estimated cost of $14,000. She noted once the job is completed, the roof would have a 10-year warranty on materials, and 2-years on labor. The fieldhouse roof is a Thermoplastic polyolefin single-ply membrane cover, or TPO.

Motions to repair were by Johnny Burkdoll and Ron Wallace; the vote was 6-0 in favor.

Lawler reported the high school office was moved during summer vacation, and the Jefferson Street side of the building will no longer be the main entrance. Lawler said entry to the main office is now directly east of the Decker Library, and high school counseling offices occupy the space near the gym, where main entry was previously located.

Lawler said the move offers a higher degree of building security, and safer passageway for students, parents and visitors. In addition, the board may want to consider installing a security fence around certain areas on campus. The fence would start on the north side of the middle school, travel west to the Performing Arts Center, and end near the high school building. She said the fence would help keep kids better protected, however, money constraints may limit the options.

During closed session, the board accepted the resignation of Carrie Laird as high school girls’ assistant basketball coach; Laird also works in the elementary special education department. In turn, the board hired Calen VanNess to fill the high school girls’ assistant basketball coach position.

Kurt Lowe of Dora was hired as a high school special education aide. This past school year, Lowe served as a regular sub for the position.

Dr. Lawler reported tutoring hours have decreased, and lower numbers will have a small impact on funding. She said tutoring hours recorded during 2013-14 totaled 2,511 hours; whereas, by comparison, during the prior year the number of hours totaled 2,894. Lawler said the school may only count tutoring hours that take place after school, not during the school day; so, those students receiving special help in the classroom are not included in the totals. In-school tutoring may account for some discrepancy in the totals, Lawler noted, but the main focus of tutoring is for students to gain knowledge and confidence–– so tutoring is important whether or not it is counted in the numbers.

With motions from Jeff Davis and Dan Watson, the board voted 6-0 to approve payment of monthly bills totaling approximately $156,617.83.

The Board of Education Spotlight recognized high school student Ben Loge for his athletic achievements in All-State Baseball, and for being selected 2014 SCA Player of the Year.

In a 6-0 vote, with motions from Dan Watson and Johnny Burkdoll, board members amended the school calendar by adding October 31, 2014 to the schedule. The day had been omitted by mistake.

School board members voted to set the tax rate hearing and annual facilities walk-through on Thursday, Aug. 21, prior to the board meeting. The facility walk-through will start at 5:30 p.m., and the tax-rate hearing at 6:15 p.m. The regular business session will start at 6:30 p.m. All three meetings will convene in the board meeting room, on the north side of the Decker Library.

Board members present were: Randy Spurlock, Johnny Burkdoll, Jeff Davis, Dan Watson, Ron Wallace and Marsha Aborn.