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School Moves Forward With Busing Changes; Rehires Certified, Non-Certified Personnel

By Sue Curry Jones

The Ava R-I School Board met on Tuesday, under the direction of Superintendent Dr. Nancy Lawler, with few items of significance being discussed in open session. However, school board members did hold a longer-than-usual closed session.

Adhering to the posted schedule, the board convened at 5:30 p.m. for a one-hour closed session meeting, but upon conclusion of open session, which ended around 8:30 p.m., the board reconvened into closed.

In the community spotlight, the board recognized the American Legion Auxiliary for their many contributions to student programs and support of local pupils in the Girls and Boys State Program.

The board honored Cody Johnson for his outstanding accomplishments in weightlifting competitions, and for setting a state record.  Johnson, who is the son of Casey and Chrystal Johnson, has qualified to compete in the national trials in April.

The Tri-M Music Honor Society, a group represented by four student members, presented information acknowledging March as Music in Our Schools month.  The students noted how important music is to everyone, but in the school setting, music programs teach important skills, such as the desire to work hard, learn new skills, and attain specific goals of achievement.

Standard reports were presented by Principal Clint Hall, Principal Marcella Swatosh, Principal Teresa Nash, Maintenance Director Monty Valentine, school nurses Bonnee Stafford and Wendy Brooke, food service director Carla Aborn, and Diana Premer, 21st Century (Bears Den); Connie Lee, special services director, was absent.

During administrative reports, Dr. Nancy Lawler gave a brief synopsis of the recent sub-committee meeting on student transportation. Lawler cited excerpts from the independent evaluation firm contracted by the school to reconfigure present bus routes.  Lawler noted the firm’s data stated school ridership was over 800 students, and student enrollment continues to decrease.

The firm recommended Bus Route 5 could be absorbed, with pick-up / drop-off points re-aligned; Routes 8 and 9 could be combined; and Routes 10 and 11 combined.

Lawler said the committee had determined these new bus route changes would be announced through the Back to School venue, and via a press release and letter to parents and students.  [The letter is in this issue of the Douglas County Herald.]

The revised contract agreement for student transportation services, an item on the evening agenda for board acceptance and approval, was not reviewed by the board as Lawler said the contract was still being reviewed by the school’s attorney and until approval was received, the item was tabled.

According to Lawler, Virginia Fry, an attorney in Springfield, Mo. is overseeing and reviewing the new transportation agreement contract.

Lawler gave the set timeline for implementing the hiring of new bus route drivers.  The dates and details, as provided by the school, are cited in the document below:


Contracted Services for Student Transportation of Public School Children Ava R-I School District

March 24 & 31: Publish in Douglas County Herald the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Student Transportation of Public School Children. RFQ applications are available in Ava R-I Administration office on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 thru April 14, 2016, from 8:00 to 4:30.  Office is closed Friday, March 25, and Monday, March 28, 2016.

April 4: Questions related to the bid specifications/routes that may be addressed at the pre-bid meeting are due in the Ava R-I Administration Office by Monday, April 4, 2016, at 4:00.

April 7: Pre-bid meeting to an­swer presented questions submitted by April 4, 2016 for interested ap­plicants in the Ava R-I Board of Education Room at 6:30 p.m.

April 14: Requests for Qualifica­tions are due in the Ava R-I Administration Office by 1:00 pm

April 15: Bids will be opened in public meeting in the Ava R-I Board of Education Room at 9:00

April 19: Bids will be reviewed at BOE meeting, 6:30 p.m., in the Board of Education Room.


In a 5-2 vote, the board adopted the Request For Qualifications as presented. The Request For Qualifications packet is required for the application process in applying for a position as an Ava R-I student transportation bus driver.

Motions to adopt were from Jeff Davis and Dan Watson.  Votes in favor were by Bart Ellison, Vernon Johnson, Jeff Davis, Ron Wallace, Dan Watson.    Randy Spurlock and Marsha Aborn cast the dissenting votes.

In additional voting action, board members voted 7-0 to accept the following:

– health services program review, as presented by school nurses;

– 2016 summer school program, and the expansion of program hours to include May 16 – 27, and June 6 – July 1.

– a change in the 2016-17 school calendar for 168 days in the school year, rather than 171.

– re-hired all non-tenure probationary teachers, part-time teachers, extra-duty coaching, extra-duty/extended day contracts, and extra-duty club and activity sponsors.

– rehired all tenured teachers and classified personnel;

– payment of monthly expenses and bills totaling $198,344.76.

The board revisited proposed plan options for sustaining the Bears Den afterschool program.  The proposal consists of two plan offerings, with one advocating a higher expense with six certified workers, and the second offering with four certified teachers and lower cost factor.  Both plans offer to host students in age groups from preschool to fourth-grade, with hours of service from 3:30 to 5:30.  Both initiatives would require parental support.

It was noted the school is applying for a new grant to fund the program, however, notification on funding will not be received until July 2016.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Henry reported the school’s federal programs are presently under the five-year audit review.   Henry also noted students are gearing up for spring testing, which includes MAP and ACT tests.

According to Dr. Nancy Lawler, the 2016 budget figures, revenues and expenses, are on track for the year.  Lawler noted Ava’s numbers for the fall funding formula will be built on 26 fewer students, and this equates to $600,000 less in funding.  She noted additional numbers will be presented next month.

Lawler noted senior graduation is May 14, at 7 p.m.

Resignations accepted were noted as follows:

Scott Payne, high school physical education teacher, high school boys basketball, and high school golf;

Melissa Payne, middle school teacher and student council sponsor;

Kurt Lowe, middle school assistant football;

Laura Walker, high school anchor Club sponsor;

Cody Whitaker, high school Pep Club sponsor;

Trish Haltom, high school Student Council sponsor.

New hires and in-house job moves were given as:

Sheila Rieken, moving to Process Coordinator;

Rebecca Perkins, high school vocational agriculture.  Perkins has 8 years teaching experience, and has a degree from Texas A&M;

Brad Clevenhagen, high school Chemistry; and

Kendra Shelton, high school biology.

Following the election, two new members will be added to the board. Consequently, the board will re-organize Tuesday, April 19, at 6:15 p.m.  The regular monthly meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m.