Ava R-1 School Board: Bus Camera Issues, Solar Power Study, New Handicapped Bus

                                                                                                                                         by Michael Boyink/[email protected]

The Ava R-1 School Board convened for their regular monthly meeting last Thursday, October 15th. 

Closed Session

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

– Accepted the resignation of Ashley Forrest as Middle School volleyball coach.

– Accepted the resignation of Sherry Wheat as High School Special Education teacher. 

Open Session

Administration Reports

Dr. Dial reported that the school had worked with the bus contractors to clean up all the bus camera installation issues. He said all bus cameras were then checked and verified to work. Dial mentioned a stop arm violation that had been captured on video and turned over to the Ava Police Department.

Bus Cameras

Board member Deana Parsick reported the results of her own investigation after visiting the bus lot after hours. “Some of the buses were unlocked,” Parsick said. She reported and had photos of inconsistent placement of cameras, including one stop arm camera pointed towards the front of the bus, and another apparently mounted upside down. Parsick said the recording devices were also mounted in different places with sloppy wiring. 

Parsick inquired about whether the cameras had been successful in capturing recent incidents on bus. “The whole point of these is safety for the kids. The incident on the bus where the little girl was roughed up,” she said. “We didn’t get film of that, right? Because this was before you figured out they were plugged in wrong?”

“There have been three for four different ones,” Dial responded. “You’d have to give me the bus number and I can go back and should be able to still find it.”

“But they are recording now and it is staying on there, right? Parsick asked.

“Correct,” said Dial.

Dial indicated that the remaining camera installation issues would soon be resolved.

FDA Food Program

Dial reported that the USDA program providing free breakfast and lunch to students was extended for the rest of the school year. 

Handicapped Bus

Dr. Dial reported that the school had taken delivery of a new handicapped bus last week and was “very happy with it.”

Computers for Teachers

Mr. Dalton reported that new computers had been ordered for the Elementary School teachers. Desktop computers were more immediately available than laptops, which were expected around Christmas.

The board expressed a desire for a formalized replacement program that would replace all district computers on a rotating 3-4 year schedule.

Assistant Superintendent Aaron Dalton reported on his efforts to visit every teacher while a class was in session, with a goal of helping them be more efficient in current teaching conditions. 

Dalton also mentioned upcoming parent teacher conferences, and how they would look different during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Board member Dan Johnson asked “Are there kids the school hasn’t been able to make contact with? 

“Yes, but not for the lack of the school trying,” said Dalton

Johnson then asked “Are some of them failing?” 

“Several,” said Dalton.

The board and administration discussed the situation and how efforts to mitigate the issue were still being developed.

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.

Facilities and Grounds Program Review

Dr. Dial reported that the school had 67 restrooms to clean multiple times per day, had brought in retired employees to help, and were still looking for part-time custodians. He said that teachers were pitching in to help, and that the school had also recently hired a high school student to help clean at night.

Early Childhood Program Review

Dial said that overall parents were happy with the pre-school offerings, but there were some good suggestions to look at. 

Solar Power Study

Ron Schrock of Ron’s Electric in Seymour provided a solar system feasibility report for the board. In his report he indicated several options for installation locations, system sizes, and approximate price-points, and approximate payback period for the board to review. 

Board member Dan Johnson requested the school electric bills to review for possible cost savings ideas. 

The report was an information only presentation and did not require a vote. Board members will review the details for a potential future vote.

Remote Instruction/COVID

Dr. Dial reported that so far the school has had eight staff members and ten students test positive for COVID-19. He said the largest group quarantined at one time was 17. 

Mr. Dalton said the school was going to allow virtual students to return to seated instruction at the turn of the quarter. He said the school was working through logistical issues with that, with hundreds of course and schedule options available at the high school level. 

Policy GCBDA 

Dr. Dial reported he was not yet ready to make a recommendation on this update, which related to paying out unused sick days for retiring teachers.

MSBA Policy Updates

The board voted to approve MSBA 2020A Policy Updates with a slight language change that required an emergency board meeting to approve shutting down the school for a week or more. In the past the school administrators have coordinated school shut downs by calling the board members and wanted to retain that ability.

OPAA Contract

Dr. Dial said an RFP would need to go out either if the school wanted to contract the food service out again or do it inhouse. Dr. Dial said he was still getting estimated budgets on what it would take to run a food program internally. 

Video

View the video footage of the meeting on DouglasCountyHerald.com.

Next Meeting

The next regular board meeting will be held November 19th at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.