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Ava R-1 School Board Approves Raises For Teachers & Bus Drivers, Switches to Local Auditor

Michael Boyink/Herald Joe Hickman of KY3 News in Springfield interviews Larry Vinson of the Ava Bus Route Owners Association. The KY3 piece was in reaction to last week’s Ava R-1 School Board meeting where the board awarded raises of 12% to the bus drivers and from 1.3% - 3.6% to teachers. The board awarded larger raises to the bus drivers in an effort to equalize pay differences between the two groups.

by Michael Boyink  /

The Ava R-1 School Board held a budgetary meeting on Thursday, June 25th at 5:30 P.M.

During the hour-long meeting, the board voted on the following action items:

Budget Amendments for 2019-2020 School Year

Dr. Dial reported that the school had seen $576,959 in additional revenue for the 19/20 school year. He said the school had incurred $125,425 in expenses that were over what had been budgeted, leaving the school with a surplus of $451,533. 

Dial said extra funds were either from additional COVID related monies, or savings from activities or staffing the school didn’t need because of COVID.

The board approved the budget amendments in a 7-0 vote.

Fund 4 Transfer

This is required to give the superintendent permission to transfer up to $1 million to pay for capital projects or lease purchase payments. The transfer will be done while auditors are present in July. This is a yearly transfer.

Dial said that Fund 4 currently has roughly  $250,000 – $300,000 in it, and that after a transfer he will keep $1.1 million to $1.2 million in it.

The board approved this motion 7-0.

2020-2021 Salary Schedule and Benefits

Dial reported that he had met with the school salary committee twice and they had provided him with a first and second choice for raise packages. 

Option 1

Everyone to get yearly experience step, and teachers that were employed during the 12/13 school year (when salaries were “frozen”) would also receive that step. No increase to the base pay would be granted. 

61 teachers, one administrator and an unspecified number of non-certified staff would be “caught up.” by getting two steps on their salary scale – representing a 3.6% raise. The (approximately) 36 teachers, non-certified staff, and administrators not employed during the 12/13 school year would see one step or 1.3%.

This option presented a total cost to the schools of $182,000.

Option 2

Increase base salary $175.00 to $31,750. Increase the board-paid insurance amount for all 139 staffers. This would be a 1.7% increase that would cost the school a total of $150,369. 

The board voted 7-0 to approve Option 1.

2020-2021 Contracted Bus Rates

After nearly every board member weighed in on discussing the issue (which starts at around the 20 minute mark in the video), the board voted to approve a 12% pay raise for contracted bus drivers, with the money being equally divided between the driver’s base rate, paved mile rate, and dirt mile rate. 

The raise presented a total cost to the school of $70,000.

The board approved the motion in a 4-3 vote, with Johnson, Tredway, Parsick, and Strong in favor, and Ellison, Stanifer, and Henry against.

2020-2021 Bus Drivers

In two moves, the board voted to approve the list of bus drivers for the school year. The first approval excluded Larry Vinson and passed 7-0. The second vote was for Larry Vinson specifically and passed 6-0, with Lowell Strong abstaining.

2020-2021 Section 125 Renewal

Section 125 represents a plan for school employees to pay their health benefits with pre-tax dollars. It represents a tax savings for employees. 

The board voted to approve the motion in a 7-0 vote.

2020-2021 Fiscal Budget

Dr. Dial reported a projected budget including revenues of $12.7 million and expenditures $13.7 million. 

Dial said that past budgets projected revenues lower and expenses higher, but this budget was “pretty close.” 

Dial was expecting another $125 million in withholding from Missouri Governor Mike Parson, but also expected an increase in fund balances from 22% to 26%.

The board voted to approve the projected budget in a 6-1 vote, with Bart Ellison voting against.

Food Service Contract with OPAA

Ava R-1 Schools has one year remaining on a five year contract with OPAA Food Management. Board members reported dissatisfaction with the service, citing food waste, low participation rates, and labor still being required by the school to clean food service areas.

The discussion included food costs, meal costs, labor costs, and cancellation windows on the contract. 

In a 4-3 vote, the board approved having the OPAA contract evaluated by lawyer to see what options the school has for moving forward.

Voting in favor were Johnson, Tredway, Parsick, and Strong. Voting against were Ellison, Stanifer, and Henry. 

District Auditor

Deana Parsick reported that the board had recently signed a 5-year agreement with auditing firm KPM, and that the agreement was not a legally binding contract.

She also said that the local bidder, Thomas and Douglas, agreed to field an unlimited number of questions from the school as part of their bid. 

The five-year bid from Thomas and Douglas was $20,500 cheaper than the KPM five-year bid.

The board approved to switch to the local bidder in a 4-3 vote. Voting in favor were Johnson, Tredway, Parsick, and Strong. Opposed were Ellison, Stanifer, and Henry.


View the video footage of the meeting – including all board member comments and discussion  – on the Douglas County Herald’s YouTube Channel.

Next Meeting

The next regular board meeting will be held on July 16th in the Ava Board of Education room.

Meetings are open to the public.

Director of Instruction & Intervention Salary

Previously, the Herald had inquired of the school what the salary was for the recently-extended position of Director of Instruction and Intervention. At the time, the school said the amount wasn’t available until after the budgets had been approved. 

This week the school responded to our inquiry saying “The one year, 10 1/2 month contract to Marcella Swatosh as Director of Instruction and Intervention for the 2020/2021 School Year, salary is $65,000.”