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Ava R-1 School Board Awards Belcher Scholarship to Kayden Meyers, Plans Camera Installation on District-Owned Buses

by Michael Boyink /

The Ava R-1 School Board held its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, December 19th at 6:30 p.m.

Consent Agenda

Dr. Jason Dial reported that the school saw a small increase in Workers Comp costs, with this years bill at $56,277. The board voted to add this to the consent agenda in a 7-0 vote.

Clear the Air Campaign

The video from the Missouri School Board Association mentioned the anti-vaping campaign recently initiated by Missouri Governor Mike Parsons. The website for that campaign is at

Principal/Director Reports

Ava Elementary School Principal Dr. Clint Hall reported that the school had recently coordinated a surprise event for volleyball coach Ann Leonard as she had received the Golden Apple award from Ozarks Fox Broadcasting.

Middle School Principal Patty Nelson mentioned:

That the middle School STUCCO hosted an “Ugly Sweater Dance”, using proceeds to make food baskets for families in need.

The National Junior Honor society collected wrapping paper to wrap gifts from the angel tree and conducted a drawing for a free turkey.  The winner, 7th grader Tristan Corcoran, donated it to a family in need.  

The Middle School 5th grade, 6th grade, and Jazz Band held a Christmas concert on Thursday, December 12th. 

Ava High School Principal Dr. Teresa Nash highlighted the holiday efforts of Ava’s High School musicians – playing in Christmas concerts, the parade, at local nursing homes, etc. 

Special Services Director Erin Swofford reported some recent NARCAN training made available by efforts from the MOCH Center and the Douglas County Health Department.

Administrators Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jason Dial reported that there was legislation brewing to “attack the teacher retirement system as it’s one of the most lucrative in the nation.” He says the school fights that every year, with retired teachers being a strong advocate for keeping the system the way it is. 

Dial said he’s been tapped to work with eight other school superintendents in southwest Missouri, to speak to teachers and retired teachers, to help them understand how the pending legislation might impact them.

Dial also said he’s slated to become the president of the Kansas/Missouri Superintendents Consortium, a group of 100 superintendents that meets twice a year to coordinate advocacy efforts at the state level. 

Budget-wise, Dial said “everything is coming in line and I’m comfortable with where we are at financially.”

Assistant Superintendent Aaron Dalton had Mrs. Swatosh, Ava’s Director of Instruction and Intervention report on her efforts in the school system. Swatosh created an internal services offering that teachers can use to be more successful, including co-teaching, team teaching, mindset coaching, etc. Her focus is on the 17 new staff members at Ava Schools, hoping to increase employee retention rates.

Paige Kimmons 

This board meeting marked the last for student member Paige Kimmons. The board recognized her efforts with a keepsake plaque. Kimmons said her plans for the future include attending the University of Missouri – Kansas City for a pharmacy degree.

Discussion/Action Items

Flex Plan – Section 125 Renewal

The flex plan allows Ava School employees to pay for various expenses (healthcare, childcare, etc) with pre-tax dollars. There were no changes to this plan, but it requires annual adoption. The board voted 7-0 to renew it for this year.

Belcher Scholarship

In a 4-3 vote, the board chose Kayden Meyers as the recipient of the annual Belcher Scholarship, then voted 7-0 to increase the award amount from $250 to $500.00.

Extra-curricular and Co-Curricular Activities Review

Ava High School Principal Dr. Teresa Nash presented this report. She mentioned a list submitted by Coach Sawyer totaling the number of students involved in school sports, the various student records, and overall team win/loss totals. 

Nash also mentioned the 13 clubs in the High School. Each club has to have a community service activity, a school service activity, a fun club activity, and responsibility events. 

The board voted to approve Nash’s report 7-0. 

Federal Program Review

Assistant Superintendent Dalton reported that the school gets funding based on US Census data. The school needs a plan in place for how it will use that money to educate students and help them be successful. He mentioned upcoming surveys and meetings to create those plans. He also mentioned using some of those funds to reduce class sizes by hiring additional teachers. 

Dalton highlighted the school’s reading intervention program that identifies students struggling to read and provides them with extra help. Dalton said the school will investigate a similar program for math.

The board approved the Federal Program Review in a 7-0 vote.

A+ Program Review

Dalton reported that the A+ program works in the Ava Schools by having high school students tutor elementary and middle school students. Dalton said he’d been working to improve awareness of the program. Dalton said that there are a number of vocational schools and two-year colleges that were offering a scholarship to A+ students. Dr. Dial added that some four-year colleges were also starting to offer $1K – $1.5K scholarships to A+ students.

The board approved the A+ Program Review in a 7-0 vote.

School Bus Cameras

Dr. Dial reported that the cameras have come in, and will be installed on seven school-owned buses and four contractor-owned buses the second week of January. 

The remaining bus route owners have not agreed to the terms surrounding the use of the cameras. 

“I would like to thank those drivers who agreed to the cameras,” said board member Mark Henry. “I’m hopeful we can come to agreement with the rest of the drivers and get those cameras installed soon.”

Closed Session

In the closed portion of the meeting, the board accepted the retirement of cafeteria worker Eva Fleetwood.


View the video footage of the meeting on the Douglas County Herald’s YouTube Channel.

Next Meeting

The next regular board meeting will be held January 16th at 6:30 in the Board of Education room at Ava High School.

Meetings are open to the public.