By Sue Curry Jones
Now that the student busing and transportation issues appear settled, and a new interim superintendent is overseeing district affairs, many of the folks attending last Thursday’s Ava R-I board meeting noticed the boardroom environment was not only relaxed, but pleasant. And, it also seemed apparent the board is no longer split, but working together to address district needs and student issues. It was a welcomed change.
Board members attending were: Troy Tredway, Bart Ellison, Marsha Aborn, Randy Spurlock, Lowell Strong and Vernon Johnson.
Ron Wallace was absent.
During closed session, the board accepted retirement notices from Liz Kyger, high school physical educa-tion teacher and coach, and Becky Klineline, a fifth-grade teacher in the middle school. Both resignations are effective at the end of the 2016-17 school year.
Resignations were also tendered by cafeteria worker Treva Tate and high school secretary Shelia Miller. Miller is leaving to assume the duties as the newly-elected Douglas County Public Administrator and will take the oath of office in January 2017. To fill Miller’s position, the board hired Carene Sicilia, who is slated to start after the Thanksgiving holiday. Tate resigned due to health issues.
Dr. Jason Dial, interim superin-tendent, advised board members an organizational chart was created for district employees and staff. The diagram outlines responsibilities, as well as the hierarchy for reporting issues.
Dial said a work order system has also been created in-house and the new system is presently being used as a tool for reporting facility main-tenance problems. The on-line system provides tracking and record-keeping capabilities.
Commenting on state funding, Dial cautioned the corporate income tax base has declined, and due to the decrease, school funding is projected to see more cutbacks. However, at this time, estimates are unclear as to the level of significance, if any.
Dial noted Ava R-I’s annual performance report (APR) cited an achievement level of 134.5 out of 140 points or 96.1 percent. The APR is based on meeting specific criteria, including MSIP 5 Standards which comprises the following categories: academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career ready, attendance, and the graduation rate. The 2016 APR also takes into account the 11th grade ACT census report, which shows a 95.3 percent participation rate in the district, and an average composite score of 20.1. In the APR analysis, Ava’s student attendance numbers continue to be a downfall as the school ranks in the 75th percentile, the lowest percentage point tallied into Ava’s standards.
The board voted 6-0 to accept a bid from Whiddons Air & Electrical, of Ava, and purchase a new HVAC unit for the girls locker room in the middle school. According to Monty Valentine, maintenance director, the unit needs a new part, and since the unit is 20-years-old, parts are no longer available.
The Whiddon bid of $5,850 was for a 3-ton, 13-seer roof top unit that also offers an air conditioning option, which may be utilized in the future. Two additional bids were received from Long Heating & Cooling, of Ozark, Mo., for $8,146, and Wood Mechanical Heating and Cooling of Cabool, $6,950.
Valentine advised the school still has six more units that are 20-years-old and similar models, and those units will likely need replacing in the near future.
It was also noted new thermostats will be installed on several HVAC units purchased last year; the new thermostats are set to arrive Dec. 1. According to information given to the board, the vendor guarantees that replacing the thermostats on the units will correct all previous problems, and the units will then be in good working order.
The Ava Board Spotlight honored Emmerson Trash Service for creating and supporting a student program that acknowledges good behavior. Under the program, a student is selected for exhibiting good conduct during the month and awarded a ball cap, lanyard and gift card. As program sponsor, Chantelle Emmerson was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the board.
In the district spotlight, the board recognized Joe Sicilia, a junior, and cross country team member who has achieved district recognition and continues to excel in local meets and competitions. Sicilia also received a certificate of appreciation from the board.
During the meeting, Dr. Jason Dial announced three seats on the board will be up for grabs in the April election. Dial advised candidate filing opens Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016 and closes Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, and interested individuals can file as a candidate in the administration office. Each board position is a three-year commitment.
Expiring office holders, who may choose to run for another term, are Randy Spurlock, Marsha Aborn, and Ron Wallace.
The At-Risk / Alternative School program review was accepted by the board in a 6-0 vote. According to the presentation, the program serves as a safety net for at risk students. It also assists students in the co-op program, and keeps troubled students on track for graduation. The alternative pro-gram oversees an average number of approximately 12 students.
The board selected student Alayna Brown as recipient of the Belcher Scholarship, which locally, provides a $250 gift from the board. The board selected Brown to represent Ava R-I in the regional competition, where she will vie for a chance to go to the statewide competition.
Board members received several policy changes for evaluation and review. The revisions will be voted on in the next session.
Bills totaling $495,471.46 were approved for payment, and a list of substitute teachers was also adopted with board approval. The substitute teachers list may be viewed on the Douglas County Herald website.
President Randy Spurlock reported
Ava R-I Schools was recently ranked as one of several notable schools in Missouri, by making a review listing recently published in U.S. News & World Report. In the article, high schools are rated according to a standard set of criteria and ranked accordingly into a gold, silver or bronze level of acknowledgement. The write-up said Missouri is home to four schools awarded gold medals, 15 with silver medals and 155 with bronze medals. Ava R-I achieved the bronze level, a level where all schools are listed in alphabetical order.
Spurlock said he was proud to acknowledge the honor, and gave credit to the teaching staff and students for their dedication and hard work.
The next meeting of the board will convene on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the board meeting room. Sessions are open to the public.