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Ava R-1 School Board Honors Faye Swofford, Rejects Bus Route Owners Association Proposal

by Michael Boyink /

The Ava R-1 School Board convened for their regular monthly meeting last Thursday, September 19th. 

Closed Session

During the closed session that began at 6:00 p.m., the board:

– Hired Jeff Pool as High School Assistant Football Coach.

– Assigned Randy Lawrence as High School Fishing Team sponsor.

– Accepted the resignation of Shawna Cleavenhagen from her position of assistant bookkeeper.

Open Session

At 6:30 p.m. the board began the open session by observing a moment of silence in honor of Faye Swofford, who recently passed away.

Payment of Bills

The board then voted to authorize payment of bills. The authorization was split into two votes to allow board members with potential conflicts of interest to abstain from voting.

Principal/Director Reports

The board heard reports from the leader of each school or department.


Dr. Clint Hall reported that Ava Elementary School has enrollments of 60 in PreK, 89 in Kindegarten, 92 in 1st grade, 94 in 2nd grade, 99 in 3rd grade and 85 in 4th grade.

He also highlighted a recent day of recognizing Grandparents.

Board member Deana Parsick commented that Dr. Hall’s recent videos (found on the Ava Schools Facebook Page) were “fabulous”.

Middle School

Ava Middle School Principal Patricia Nelson reported that Ava Middle School enrollment was at 415, down from 425 last year.

 She also highlighted the annual Back to School swim party, and the Signs of Suicide training coming up for the 6th grade class on September 25th and 26th.

High School 

Dr. Teresa Nash, Ava High School Principal reported enrollment of 429, down three students from the 2018 school year.

Her report also mentions the High School’s School-Wide Positive Behavior Support training. Ava teachers have taught all nine lesson plans with videos to their students. The expected outcome of the training is that students would know how to behave at various locations and events during the school year.

Special Services

Erin Swofford reported that her enrollment was up to 219 over 212 from 2018. She mentions working on a referral process flow chart with the Speech Language Pathologist

Administration Reports

Dr. Dial reported that the nursing staff had setup flu shots for employees, and was exploring on how to offer them to students. Dr. Dial said the overall enrollment was up, and that pre-K was at max capacity. The school even had to turn away students. Dial reported that the school was $313K over budget, but he expected to recover and be on track for a net-zero budget. 

Cyber Attack

Dr. Dial briefed the audience on the recent ransomware attack. He said the school had cyberinsurance for just this type of thing. The school would have to pay a deductible of $5,000. He reiterated that no identifiable data had been breeched, and said the school had restored its systems from backup in time to make payroll. Dr. Dial offered to answer any questions, but there were none.

Mr. Dalton reported that the recent teacher professional development day (shared with other school systems in the region) was a success, having a capacity crowd. He also reported that 48 students were doing A+ math tutoring. 

Action Items (requiring a board vote)

The Board discussed several action items during the meeting. 

All items needing a vote were voted in 7-0, with the exception of the raise for bus drivers.

Early Retirement Incentive – Policy GCPB

This is not a new package, but rather the same item that gets re-established every year.

2019 – 2020 Ava R-1 Assessment Plan

This plan outlines the testing conditions, personnel duties, utilization of results, dissemination procedures, etc. for the school.

2019 – 2020 Ava R-1 Professional Development Review

Mr. Dalton mentioned giving new teachers two days of development time to ease the transition into the job. He also mentioned that the school has a pool of money to use for professional development, and the money is distributed equitably to all the schools for use. 

Bus Route Owners Pay Increase

Coming off the heels of the recent 9/11 meeting, Larry Vinson presented the board with a request for a 6% raise across the board. This would put the rates at $1.99 per dirt mile, $2.81 per paved mile, and $1297.90 driver base pay. Mr. Vinson noted that this was less than the corrected TransPar recommendations, and is what the route owners had originally requested. 

Dan Johnson made a motion to give the bus drivers what they had asked for. “It’s basically a compromise,” he said. 

Deana Parsick seconded the motion.

Brandi Stanifer asked if the suggested 6% was on top of the already-awarded 3%.

“Six percent is what they originally asked for back in June,” said Deana Parsick. “We gave them three.”

“I understand this is for the original request of the 6% raise,” said Mark Henry. “Are we doing away with all the TransPar information then, because we agree it’s flawed?”

“The report is reasonable except for the one flawed calculation,” said Dan Johnson. “What’s in the report is basically what they are asking for.”

Deana Parsick clarified that the drivers were asking for the raise from this point forward, not retroactively.

“I go back to this,” said Mark Henry. “I don’t understand the recommended raise being so much higher than what we’re going to give teachers this year.”

“But the teachers have had raises in the past years,” replied Deana Parsick. “But the bus drivers have not. This would catch them up.”

The board referred to a document showing driver and teacher raise amounts over the past several years, but didn’t clearly delineate to the crowd how many years the drivers had not been given a raise.

When the motion was called to a vote, Dan Johnson and Dean Parsick were in favor. Kenny Fleetwood, Mark Henry, Bart Ellison, Michael Stewart, and Brandi Stanifer voted against.

Bart Ellison, Michael Stewart, Kenny Fleetwood, and Brandi Stanifer either didn’t say anything at all during the discussion, or said nothing to indicate the reasons for their vote.


View the video footage of the meeting on (the busing discussion starts around the 46 minute mark).

Next Meeting

The next regular board meeting will be held October 17th at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.