The Ava R-1 School Board convened for their regular monthly meeting last Thursday, December 17th, 2020.
Board member Brandi Stanifer was absent.
During the closed session that began at 6:00 p.m., the board made a number of hires, mostly related to getting the in-house cafeteria up and running:
Amy Kilgore-Cafeteria Staff
Pat Epps-Cafeteria Staff
Yvonne Honerkamp-Director Nutrition Services
Kelly Green-Cafeteria Staff
Brooklyn Baker-Cafeteria Staff
Amber Browning-Cafeteria Staff
Zamber Little-Cafeteria Staff
Stephine Dietz-Cafeteria Staff
Sheena Mahan-Cafeteria Staff
Lisa Baker-Elementary Cafeteria Manager
April Nash-H.S. Special Education
Summar Reed-H.S. Counselors Secretary
The board also accepted the retirement of Dr. Barbara Deegan from the school’s Elementary Music program.
The board approved the consent agenda 6-0.
Payment of Bills
The board approved payment of bills in a split motion that allowed Lowell Strong to abstain from voting on paying a bill from Larry Vinson.
Elementary School and Middle School Principals were absent.
Ava HS Principal Dr. Teresa Nash introduced Jansen Breshears as the new student representative to the board.
Special Services Director Melissa Dalton reported that her department had dismissed 9 students who no longer needed her departments help. She also updated the board on issues brought up at the last school board meeting. She reported the DESE Southwest Regional Compliance Director was coming to Ava for a visit on January 26th to review the Ava Special Services department and provide recommendations for improvements.
Dr. Dial reported that Maintenance Director Monty Valentine had recently returned home after a stroke, only to return to the hospital for a blod clot and then tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr. Dial reported that the school had 53 total cases of COVID-19. Currently 8 students or staff had tested positive, and 33 were quarantined.
Dr. Dial said the school had received a total of $167,428 in CARES dollars from Douglas County.
Dial reported getting input from other schools who run their own cafeterias on where to best source different ingredients or food items. Dial said the work on starting up the cafeteria was continuing over Christmas break, but was on-schedule to begin on January 5th. Dial invited the board members to come eat with the students and staff.
Dr. Dial reported that two people had filed for the upcoming board election – current board member Deana Parsick and Rory Boeddeker.
Assistant Superintendent Aaron Dalton reported that the number of virtual students was declining from an estimated 300 to around 80 for this upcoming semester. He talked about how the school would possibly place the remaining virtual students into existing programs online, which would free up Ava teachers to focus on in-person students.
Dalton also mentioned that the school would continue with state testing. He said that due to COVID issues the school wasn’t as accountable to the state for results, but the school still uses the data to plan.
Action Items (requiring a board vote)
The board voted 6-0 to renew the benefit flexplan for employees.
The Board awarded the Belcher Scholarship to Layla Giorgianni, then also voted 6-0 to increase the scholarship amount from $500 to $750.
Extracurricular Program Review
Dr. Teresa Nash presented the report for the absent Coach Rex Sawyer. She briefly outlined how different student groups were finding ways to volunteer or otherwise serve in the community even with COVID-19 restrictions. The board approved the report 6-0.
Federal Program Review
Aaron Dalton reported that Ava Schools had 10 staff members supported by dollars from federal programs. He also mentioned the school was hearing more about social/emotional learning more, most likely due to the COVID-19 impact on student life. The board approve his report in a 6-0 vote.
A+ Program Review
Assistant Superintendent Dalton also gave a report on the A+ program at Ava Schools. He said an important aspect of the program is older students tutoring younger students and that much of that work is now being done online. The board approved his report 6-0.
The board voted 6-0 to approve a recent “clean” audit for the schools.
The board discussed a question MSBA had recently posed – which was the possibility of moving school board elections from April to November in an effort to increase turnout. The Ava School Board consensus was that they were in favor of it.
Attracting New Staff
During this discussion-only action item, the board proposed various ways to attract and retain new teachers. Class sizes, salary schedules, insurance, a four-day work week, and job fairs were all discussed with no formal vote or action as a result.
Partial video footage of the meeting is available on DouglasCountyHerald.com. Technical issues cause a lack of audio for the remaining portion of the meeting.
The next regular board meeting will be held January 21st at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.