Superintendent Jeff Blackford gave an update to the district’s financials, which he said were better than anticipated so far this school year. Blackford noted the expenses are approximately $200,000 less than projected so far this fiscal year and all revenue is coming in as anticipated. Blackford said the difference in expenditures comes from higher projections made in the initial budget to avoid a negative budget.
District staff members Heidi Komrech and Jamie Madden updated the school board about ongoing activities in their classroom.
The average attendance rates for the past month were 96.5 percent in the elementary and 95 percent in the high school. Both building principals said illness was having a big effect on those attendance numbers.
Principals Michael Hollingsworth and Shawn Emerson discussed ongoing and upcoming happenings in their buildings as everyone prepares for the holiday break and the spring semester, including end of course testings.
Blackford talked to the board about issues at the state legislative level, including the large flux of new lawmakers in both the House and Senate, as well as the need for school officials to continue to watch how the changes will affect the public education climate.
An update on the high school building project included that a lot of progress had been made in the past month due to the warmer weather. Blackford said the cement was expected to be poured later in the week since all the ground electrical and plumbing had been completed. Blackford said the project was on track for the planned August 1, 2019, completion date, if not sooner.
The board discussed the fence project expected to be placed at the elementary school. Blackford said he planned to reach out to the adjoining property owners about the removal of trees along the proposed fence which had been damaged in recent years. Further progress on the project will be brought before the board at the January meeting.
The 2019-20 school calendar was introduced to the board, with no expected action until a later date.
Blackford presented two possible calendars to the board which would include a start time of 8:10 am, instead of the current 8:13 am. Administration plans to bring the two calendars before district staff in hopes of bringing a recommendation to the school board in the coming months. Blackford also mentioned his plans to partner with Regional Professional Development Center at Northwest on directions to enhance staff development days throughout the school calendar.
With the recently voted move to increase minimum wage to $12 by 2022, Blackford informed the school board the district will need to change the salary schedule for non-certified staff in the district. He said an immediate shift to $12 would cost the district around $27,000, but stated he is drafting a plan to increase the salary schedule in yearly increments which would stay in line with the state.
Hollingsworth discussed changes to the junior and senior high school student handbook which would take place immediately. The first change was to require all students take end of course testing, with the test unable to harm grades of students. The change allows teachers to maintain data for all students. The other change was the requirement that students must be in attendance all day at school if they are to take part in any school activity that day.
A bid from MTE in Maryville was approved by the board in the amount of $42,966.27 for upgrades to the district’s access point and switches infrastructure. The approval is contingent upon the district receiving the e-rate funding.
A school board work session was set for Wednesday, January 30 which will allow administration and the board to discuss long-range planning for the district. The work session will be separate from the regular monthly BOE meeting which is set for 6 pm, Wednesday, January 16. At the work, session Blackford plans to discuss the results of a recent community survey.