New Board Votes 4-3 To Reject Language in Revised Transportation Contract

By Sue Curry Jones

The new transportation agreement recently created to fulfill contractual details associated with the school boards decision to implement option no. 3 for student bus service in the fall was voted down in a 4-3 vote on Tuesday evening.

Transportation option no. 3 was the board’s proposal of multiple contracts and open employment of bus drivers through an advertised bid process and request for qualifi­cations.  Option no. 3 defined routes as either long or short, with short routes 20 hours weekly at $17/hour, and long routes 25 hours weekly, at $17/hour.  The plan included a set schedule for bus wear and tear.

The motion to “do away with the language of the newly proposed contract” was given by board member Troy Tredway, with Marsha Aborn supporting the action.

In a 4-3 vote, Tredway’s motion carried with affirming votes from Marsha Aborn, Randy Spurlock, Lowell Strong and Tredway.

Board members voting against the motion to quell the contract were Ron Wallace, Bart Ellison and Vernon Johnson.

Since the contract is necessary for moving forward with option no. 3, this action temporarily halts putting this new plan into the system as a solution for student transportation next year.

In conjunction with the motion noted above, Tredway also tendered a motion for the board to return transportation services to the long-standing route owners, and reinstate operations with the present group of contracted bus drivers.

Larry Vinson, president of the bus route owners association, responded to the motion by stating the route owners were all in agreement and open to the idea of returning to the  ‘old system’ for providing student transportation services.

However, Superintendent Nancy Lawler advised that this topic must be addressed in closed session, as the issue, according to Lawler, is deemed a legal issue to be discussed in closed session.

In addition, Tredway and Strong initiated motions to reject all bids recently submitted in response to the board’s request for student bus driver qualifications, under option no. 3.  It was clarified that each applicant submitting qualifications as a bus driver candidate should be notified by mail that the contract associated with option no. 2 was not approved by the board, and their applications no longer applicable.

Prior to actions noted above, at 6:15 p.m., the Board of Education had reorganized with Tredway and Strong sworn into office.  The board voted 5-0 to accept election results as verified by Douglas County Clerk Kerry Davis.  Davis certified Douglas County voters had pro-claimed Lowell Strong and Troy Tredway overall winners, with votes of 679 and 694, respectively.

Reorganization also included the re-election of Randy Spurlock as the president of the board.  The voting process included Bart Ellison’s nomination of Ron Wallace as a candidate for president, while Marsha Aborn nominated Randy Spurlock as a candidate.  Spurlock dominated the tally with four votes, and Wallace garnered two votes from Ellison and Johnson.

For the office of vice president, Ellison nominated Ron Wallace, and Tredway nominated Marsha Aborn. Aborn carried the vote 4-2.

Other offices filled were treasurer, Monica Ray; secretary, Bart Ellison; MSBA delegate, Marsha Aborn, and Bart Ellison as alternate delegate.

In the superintendent’s report, Dr. Nancy Lawler advised the school is holding a special enrollment day on April 28 in the administration office. Lawler said the informational event is in conjunction with Ava Victory Academy’s upcoming move to Seymour. Lawler said the announcement has prompted several inquiries about Ava R-I schools and the process for enrollment.

Lawler reminded board members to mark their calendars for May 14 and senior graduation at the football field at 7:00 p.m.   President Randy Spurlock offered an apology of regret noting he was unable to attend the event, as his son is graduating from law school the same day, and travel will make it impossible to attend both graduation ceremonies.

The school calendar also noted the last day of school is Friday, May 13, and Baccalaureate, May 8.

During closed session, the board accepted resignations from the following school employees:

– Terinda Hampton, retiring from custodial position;

– Christian Neff, foreign language teacher, high school;

– Steve Sanders, alternative school teacher, and girls basketball coach in high school;

– Cody Swearingen, seventh-grade math;

– Wendy Thompson, elementary school yearbook.

According to Lawler, the board also hired the following individuals to fill open positions on staff:

– Lacey Roberts, of Ava, middle school special education;

– Mike Mallow, high school PE / health, high school head boy’s basketball coach, middle school assistant football coach.  Mallow comes to Ava from Willow Springs;

– April Britt, teacher in the middle school.  Britt comes to Ava from West Plains;

– Brad Clevenhagen, head golf coach, and high school chemistry teacher;

– Nathan Houk moves from high school girl’s basketball assistant to head coach; Houk will continue as assistant principal in the high school;

– Kendra Shelton, middle school girls softball coach, and high school biology teacher.

Lawler’s closed session report did not cite any other actions or votes of the board.

During open session, the board voted to adopt or approve the following committee presentations and annual formalities:

– State and Federal Assurances, an annual clause stipulating the board agrees to spend money according to state and federal laws, and comply with rules.

Motions to accept were by Wallace and Aborn, and the vote was 7-0.

– annual renewal of the fiduciary and depository agreement with First Home Bank, a corporation of Mtn. Grove with a banking center in Ava, was approved. The five-year contract agreement is renewed each year.

Motions to accept were by Strong and Johnson; the vote was 7-0.

– Guidance counseling program review was accepted in a 7-0 vote, as presented.

Motions were by Johnson and Strong.

– bills totaling $239,164.67 were approved for payment.

A summary of policy changes, as recommended by Missouri School Board Association, was tabled at the request of Troy Tredway.  The changes were listed for board approval, however, Tredway asked for the items to be tabled until next session, as new board members had not had time to review the twelve revisions and changes.

The salary committee presented recommendations for the upcoming budget year.   The group asked for the following:

– addition of one step on the salary schedule, including a step for those individuals who are currently maxed out on the schedule.

– request for an increase of $17.62 per employee, increasing the amount the school contributes to employee health insurance.

– 2.9% stipend for Sarah Sacco as the sponsor of Tri-M Music Honor Society.  As sponsor, Sacco has not been compensated.

The recommendations will be reviewed during the budget process, which begins in June.

During public comments, Dave Fleagle, Republican committeeman for Benton Township, offered concerns and additional information on Common Core state standards and educational materials.  Fleagle provided updated information to the new board members, asking them to review the information.

The board spotlight recognized the local Cox Health group for partnering with students at Ava R-I and Children’s Miracle Network to help students. Christie Drew and Jason Martin, representatives from Cox, were presented a certificate of appreciation.

The board also recognized OPAA! and local staff members for their service and hard work as members of the cafeteria program.

Elementary Principal Clint Hall gave board members a schedule of events and activities taking place in the elementary building, as the year comes to a close.  Hall invited board members to participate, and help with awards.

Principal Marcella Swatosh noted middle school students are working through the second week of MAP testing.  Testing is conducted over a four-week period.

Principal Teresa Nash advised the high school is adding a new program to School Wide Positive Behavior in 2016-17.  The group, currently looking at revising the Intervention /Enrichment program, has plans to visit Reeds Spring and observe their program.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Henry noted elementary students start MAP testing next week.  He also noted the Healthy Schools initiative is hosting a day in the park on Saturday, from 1:00 to 3:00.

Board members attending were Troy Tredway, Bart Ellison, Marsha Aborn, Randy Spurlock, Ron Wallace, Lowell Strong, and Vernon Johnson.

The next regular session of the board is Thursday, May 19, at 6:30 p.m.  Meetings are held in the board of education room, on the north side of the Decker Library.  The session is open to the public.