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Ava R-I School Board: Teacher Stipends, New Insurance Consortium

by Michael Boyink

The Ava R-1 School Board convened for a special board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on April 1, 2021.

During the open portion of the meeting, the board discussed the following:

Insurance Consortium
The board voted 7-0 to begin purchasing employee health insurance through the “Mask-2” consortium. Dr. Dial said the rates will remain approximately the same, but this consortium was smaller and would allow the school to have greater input. He said the plans were mainly through Mercy, but Cox-based plans were available.

School Attorney
The board discussed the idea of starting to work with former Ava student John Spurlock, who now practices law out of the Springfield area. Dial said Spurlock engages with other school systems, but his references were unavailable. Board President Lowell Strong said Spurlocks rates were $150.00 per hour, which was $75.00/hour cheaper than the St. Louis-based attorney the school has been using. Dial said since the board wasn’t engaging Spurlock through a retainer or contract the issue didn’t require a vote.

The board agreed to begin working with Spurlock, knowing they could engage with another lawyer if Spurlock wasn’t comfortable with a given issue.

Teacher Incentive
Board member Deana Parsick moved to grant certified teachers a $3,000 stipend and non-certified staff a $1,000 stipend. In her motion she mentioned wanting to reward teachers for dealing with difficulty of teaching during the pandemic. The stipend would be contingent upon the employee signing a contract for the 2021/2022 school year, and would be included in the first paycheck.

The board discussion was around where the money would come from. Board President Lowell Strong said he had two sources saying it was okay for the school to use ESSER-2 funds to pay the stipend. Dr. Dial disagreed, saying the restrictions around those funds stipulated they could not be used for bonuses.

Board member Dan Johnson mentioned the school having $6.6 Million in its funds currently, and suggested the stipend could be paid out of another fund.

After additional discussion, the board voted 6-0 (with Bart Ellison abstaining) in favor of setting aside the amount of the stipend, while tasking school administrators Dial and Dalton in coming up with a plan for where the money would come from.

Dr. Dial estimated the total cost to the school would be $430,000 – $450,000.

The video from the meeting will be available on the Herald’s website later this afternoon:

All board members were present for this meeting.

Next Meeting
The next regular board meeting will be the post-election board reorganization meeting scheduled for April 15th at 6:15.