By Sue Curry Jones
The Ava R-1 School Board met on Thursday, Feb. 19 for monthly business, with all board members present. The first action item on the evening agenda was payment of monthly bills totaling $211,583.86.
During closed session, the board voted to rehire administrative staff members: Clint Hall, elementary principal; middle school principal, Aaron Dalton; high school principal, Teresa Nash; assistant high school principal, Nathan Houk; and special services director, Connie Lee. Also, Terry Watkins was upgraded to a full-time custodial position. Watkins previously acted as a part-time custodial sub.
During the meeting, the board also accepted the following resignations: Ramona Bassett, Title I para-professional aide; Jeremy Myers, assistant technical director; and Janell Embrey, assistant volleyball coach for the middle school team. Superintendent Dr. Nancy Lawler noted resignations are effective the end of this school term.
Board members voted 7-0 to select 1st Home Bank of Ava as the school depository institution for the upcoming school year. Following a brief overview of interest rates and direct deposit information from 1st Home Bank and HomePride Bank, Dr. Lawler recommended 1st Home Bank as the choice for Ava Schools. Town and Country Bank and Great Southern did not submit bids for the business. Motions accepting the 1st Home bid were by Dan Watson and Johnny Burkdoll.
Budget amendments were also approved as recommended. Most of the mid-year changes were noted as funding and expenditure items originally set as unknown monetary amounts, or ‘guestimates’. Lawler explained that as the year progresses many figures become more accurate, especially as state funding amounts are clarified. In addition, the superintendent noted several other items needed to be adjusted to cover increases in cost factors, such as, bus repairs, which have increased; legal services, which have increased; and costs associated with roofing issues at the football field. Motions to adopt budget revisions were by Ron Wallace and Johnny Burkdoll, the vote was 7-0.
Additional board action included the following votes:
- Renewal of the extended fourth-year contract with OPAA! for the 2015-16 school year. The vote was 6-0, with motions by Dan Watson and Johnny Burkdoll. School board member Marsha Aborn abstained.
- Adoption of the 2015-16 Ava R-1 Schedule and Calendar was implemented, with motions from Wallace and Jeff Davis. The vote was 7-0.
Lawler noted the only difference between this year’s school calendar and the proposed calendar for the next year was Easter break, which was March 24-28.
- Board members approved spending $3,740 for Ava National Honor Society students, along with two sponsors, to attend the state convention. In the written request to the board, the expense was $100 per person for about 20 students, plus other accompanying costs. The funding covered meals, lodging and conference fees. The vote was 7-0, with motions from Burkdoll and Wallace.
- In a 7-0 vote, with motions by Burkdoll and Vernon Johnson, the board changed the “Speakers At District Events” school policy, re-categorizing the status of the policy from a basic to critical. According to the board write-up, the policy was previously rated supplemental, but due to House Bill 1303, the school is required to monitor speaking forums at the school, and delineate content, methods and rules, for individuals and students presenting or speaking at the school.
- With a unanimous vote, board members approved three program reviews, as presented. Student programs evaluated and reviewed were: library media, vocational, and health services.
During the meeting, Dr. Lawler reported the student membership count was continuing to decline each year, as the student population decreases by approximately 16-20 students annually. Lawler said the decline in numbers is also reflected in the student count for the Free & Reduced Lunch Program.
The district spotlight recognized the Ava Elementary Science lab for serving students in kindergarten through fourth-grade, and providing a hands-on environment for science learning. According to Clint Hall, elementary principal, the lab was implemented last year, and was set up to focus on teaching concepts through hands-on experimentation.
The board also recognized the You Choose program, which is partially an abstinence program for 6th and 7th grade students, and covers topics such as bullying, student issues, and other topics of concern. It was noted the program guides students on how to make wise decisions, how to handle problems, and also offers a format for discussions.
Both spotlight recipients received a certificate of appreciation.
Dr. Lawler proposed revising the board meeting schedule to reflect a new format, by placing the closed session prior to open meeting. She suggested implementing the change in April, and the board would meet for closed session prior to the public session at 6:30 p.m. Lawler said this new format would allow closed meeting decisions to be revealed in open; and when needed, topics could be bought into open for additional comments, discussions and/or votes. No decision was forthcoming.
Dr. Lawler also informed board members Maynard Wallace, former superintendent of Ava R-1, was appointed and confirmed to serve as a member of the State Board of Education.