Contracted Bus Services Continues to Foster Negative Undercurrent on Ava R-I Board

In a 3-3 vote, board members failed to agree on whether or not to engage an outside firm to audit Ava R-I’s transportation program.  

Board members Deana Parsick, Troy Tredway and Lowell Strong asserted that with an independent audit analysis of the current system, the board would learn the truth and whether or not the program is operating efficiently and effectively, in the highest capacity for the school.  

According to Parsick, an audit will objectively extrapolate the numbers and provide a clearly defined picture of the true value of the system.  She noted an audit would define the present system, and whether or not it is the most productive use of the district’s money.  

Parsick said it has been two years since contracted bus drivers were given a salary increase to base pay, and the board has the responsibility to reach the truth.   She advised the board needs to know for sure if the group is over paid, under paid, or accurately compensated for their services, and an audit would provide that detailed analysis. 

In response, Bart Ellison and Michael Stewart said they were not willing to “open this can of worms.”

Parsick said Ava R-I has a great transportation system, but unverified opinions of some board members  has effected the community and those perceptions need to be found true or false so everyone can move forward.   She noted board member Michael Stewart continues to state the contracted group is over paid, but Stewart has yet to talk actual numbers, just an opinion.  She cited that engaging an audit would analyze the numbers and assess where the truth stands.

Board member Troy Tredway made the motion to engage Transpar School Bus Consultants to audit the Ava R-I transportation system.  Parsick supported the motion.  

The motion failed with a tie vote,  as Parsick, Strong and Tredway voted in favor, and Mark Henry, Bart Ellison, Michael Stewart, against.  Kenny Fleetwood was absent from the session. 

Addressing other action items, the board unanimously voted to approve the facilities campus ground review as presented by Maintenance Director Monty Valentine.  

In his report, Valentine noted improvements for 2018-19 include the following:  renovation of the pre-school building, new floor tile in the elementary cafeteria, restaining the high school gym floor; refurbishing inside the walk-in freezer in the middle school cafeteria, replacing ceiling tiles in third-grade hallway, painting middle school cafeteria walls and classrooms, installing six new Smart boards in the elementary and middles school, two new parking lots east of high school, and demolition of houses, east of campus.  

The board voted to adopt several policies as recommended by the Missouri School Board Association.  The policies include adoption of on-line access for high school classes. According to Dial, the policies were implemented due to legislative changes and  passage of new bills. 

Board approval was also given to the Early Childhood Program Review. 

Upcoming events noted on the high school calendar report included Student Council Halloween dance, Nov. 2; district band auditions at Parkview High School, Nov. 6; and Veteran’s Day assembly, 9:30 a.m. in the high school gym. 

Superintendent Aaron Dalton reported student assessment scores, from the state, may be received before the first of the year, however, with the new changes in policy, that may not happen. In the meantime, Dalton said teachers are making efforts to accurately identify and measure each student’s learning abilities.  The goal is to continue measuring and marking progress through the year.  

Dalton said the fall professional development day held in Mountain Grove Sept. 17 was worthwhile and well-received by staff.  The day was a partnership between Ava and Mtn. Grove, and the collaboration made for a successful day. 

During closed session, the board hired Brett Lambert to fill a position as elementary custodian.  Lambert, who previously worked as a ranch hand, is from Ava, Mo. 

The district spotlight recognized Laura Walker, who presently serves as sponsor of the Compass Leaders program. Compass Leaders are upper class students who serve as mentors to incoming freshman, and help the new students transition into high school, and Walker was commended for overseeing a successful program. 

In the community spotlight, the board recognized the FFA Booster Club, members and officers for their many outstanding contributions to the Ava High School FFA chapter, and FFA students.  The Booster Club, which lends support to the chapter financially and academically, has been instrumental in sponsoring educational trips, giving FFA members a broader understanding of agricultural opportunities, and the varied job market. 

The next board meeting will be held on Thursday, Nov. 15, 6:00 p.m. in the board of education meeting room on campus.  Meetings are open to the public. 

Note: At the end of the Oct. 18 meeting, a verbal outburst between several board members was recorded by our camera on film. The confrontation was over the contracted busing issue.  But, before sharing with the public, the Herald is attaining legal advice.