By Sue Curry Jones
On Thursday, Nov. 20, Ava R-1 board members held the November business session, with the meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Education room. In the community spotlight segment of the agenda, the board recognized Larry Pueppke, Presiding Commissioner of Douglas County, for supporting the school and student activities. The board also recognized Diana Premer and Charlie McDonald for directing the Bears Den afterschool program.
During open session, the board accepted annual reports and updates on several student programs. The four assessment overviews were on the following curriculums noted as:
- Early childhood programs for pre-K, Parents as Teachers, and pre-school; motions to accept were by Johnny Burkdoll and Ron Wallace, the vote was 7-0;
- Alternative school and at-risk program reviews were accepted in a 7-0 vote, with motions by Ron Wallace and Johnny Burkdoll;
- Student advisory to the board of Education policy and program was adopted by a 7-0 vote, with motions by Dan Watson and Jeff Davis. To be considered as a candidate for the student advisory position on the Ava School Board, interested students will write and submit an essay. The essays will be read and reviewed by a committee, with the names of the top three essay writers placed on a ballot, and voted on by the student body, electing one representative to the board. The committee evaluating essays will be comprised of four teachers, one high school counselor and principal and a school board member. School board member Dan Watson volunteered to serve on the selection committee, which will meet in December.
Student advisors to the board of education will serve for one calendar year, running from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, and must be a sophomore or junior to be eligible. The first advisor will be recognized in January.
Due to House Bill 1136, which changed State of Missouri rules for individuals filing as a candidate for election to the school board, the board revised Ava’s policy to comply with the 2014 laws. The changes, which added supplemental requirements and statutory revisions, were explained as follows:
- Board candidates cannot be delinquent in the payment of any state income taxes, personal property taxes, municipal taxes or real property taxes on the candidate’s stated residence. In addition, if the candidate is a past or present corporate officer of any fee office, the office cannot owe any taxes to the state. Candidates must not only declare that they do not owe taxes but must also file an affidavit with the Department of Revenue stating that they do not owe taxes. (See § 115.342, RSMo.)
- Board candidates cannot have been found guilty of or pled guilty to a felony or misdemeanor under federal law. (See § 115.348, RSMo.) Previously, candidates could have a prior criminal conviction as long as they were not currently serving a sentence or on probation for the crime. That is no longer true if the conviction is a federal crime.
- Board candidates cannot have been convicted of, found guilty of or pled guilty to a felony under Missouri law. (See § 115.350, RSMo.) Previously, candidates could have a prior Missouri criminal conviction as long as they were not currently serving a sentence or on probation for the crime. That is no longer true if the conviction is a Missouri felony. Technically if a candidate is convicted of a felony in another state and is no longer serving a sentence or on probation, the person could still run for office in Missouri.
- The law now requires candidates must provide a “signed and sworn” declaration of candidacy. (See § 115.347, RSMo.) If the declaration is filed in person, the board secretary or other person authorized to accept candidate filing witnesses the signature and signs that fact. If the candidate is mailing the declaration in because he or she has a disability or is on active duty military service, the declaration must be notarized.
Motions to incorporate these new rules and accept as board policy were given by Marsha Aborn and Vernon Johnson. The vote was 7-0.
In the superintendent’s report, Dr. Nancy Lawler stated the Missouri United School Insurance Council (MUSIC) payment is due. MUSIC handles the school’s main insurance policy, which includes coverage for the treasurer’s bond, general liability insurance, property and equipment liability insurance, and workman’s comp. Lawler said two additional options were available for consideration this year, and those offerings were cyber coverage, and/or additional liability coverage. Lawler advised added coverage was not needed at this time, however, both options may be appropriate in future years. The annual premium for the insurance policy is $137,201, a $15,000 increase from last year.
Updating on budget issues, Dr. Lawler projected Ava’s funding for the 2015-16 school year will decrease $185,692. Lawler explained some schools are not affected by formula funding, as those areas were exempted under a hold-harmless clause to keep them from failing the first year the formula was implemented. To-date, protected schools such as St. Louis, continue to operate under hold harmless protection. However, for the 2014-15 school year, Lawler reported if the current formula pro-ration holds true, Ava will receive an extra $100,000, in January 2015.
Lawler said as a member of the natural gas consortium, the school has been notified the transportation cost for natural gas is going up this month and may increase as much as 50%. This increase will appear on the Nov. 28 bill. The cost of natural gas remains the same.
Assistant Superintendent Mike Henry reported a committee is being formed and members will serve on the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP). The CSIP committee is comprised of school personnel, administrators, business leaders, school board members, and residents of the community. CSIP is a blueprint and long range planning tool administrators use to format the academic direction and continuity in education. Henry said a company has already evaluated Ava schools, and their recommendations have been submitted for consideration. The staff has indicated classroom and curriculum needs as well.
In other business, the school board selected Ava student Kayla Casey, as the local representative for the Belcher Scholarship opportunity. Four student essays were submitted to the board for the selection process and Casey’s essay was chosen as the winning composition. As Ava’s representative, Casey’s essay will compete at the regional level, with the chance to win a scholarship of $750. If selected to continue to nationals, the scholarship amount is $1500. For the local honor, Casey receives $350 from the Ava board.
At the onset of the school board meeting, Principal Teresa Nash introduced Sheila Miller, as the newly hired assistant in the high school office.
With a unanimous vote, the board paid monthly bills of $317,598.40. Motions were by Dan Watson and Marsha Aborn.
According to Dr. Nancy Lawler, the board met in closed session last week, and no voting decisions were made. However, another closed meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 24.
The school board’s December meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 18, at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are held in the Board of Education room located on the north side of the Decker Library building.