In seeking a successor for Robin Jones as principal at Central Park Elementary, the board narrowed the field to two and conducted interviews. From that, Annette Cozort got the job. Cozort has a long track record in the area. She has been an administrator for the Republic school district for the past seven years. She has worked at a number of districts, starting out in Cassville, where she served for 12 years.
"We're very excited to get her on as part of our team," said Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann. He observed the district's quick move to fill its administrative positions followed a standing strategy of "get out early before the good ones are picked over."
In a special meeting last month, the board selected its new special services director. Elaine O'Neal was hired for this post. She is currently the assistant superintendent at the Eldon School District. She also serves as that district's special education director and coordinator of federal programs.
O'Neal started her career in education as a speech pathologist in the state of California. She moved to southwest Missouri when her daughter moved to Springfield. O'Neal taught at the Reeds Spring District, serving as process coordinator, handling paperwork and compliance issues for the special education department. According to Assistant Superintendent Julie Germann, a new grandchild provided incentive for O'Neal to move closer to Springfield, and Monett provided an opportunity.
O'Neal will succeed Pam Dorton, who came out of retirement to fill the post for one more year. Dorton will return to retirement at the end of the current school year.
In other personnel action last month, the board voted to rehire all of its other principals and assistant principals, plus Germann and Southwest Area Career Center Director Ted Dorton. All were offered one-year contracts for the 2009-10 school year.
Shyrah Perry was hired to be next year's high school head volleyball coach. She will teach health and physical education.
Two resignations were accepted. Jeannette Johnson stepped down from her job as a speech implementor. Jungmann said the job can be filled by anyone with an elementary teaching certificate. Deanna Yokley resigned from the special education department, serving students at Central Park Elementary. The need for special education staff, the superintendent said, varies with the student population.
Looking at the financial end of personnel issues, Assistant Superintendent Germann told board members the total number of workers' compensation claims during the current school year is 21, comparable to the 23 total recorded the year before. Only seven of this year's cases required visits to the doctor or referrals, whereas 17 had needed medical attention the year before.
Germann was hopeful this would translate into better rates for the district in the coming year. As a kind of safety coordinator for the district, Germann "has got us thinking safety conscious," Jungmann said.
Most of the claims the district ends up with come from falls, some weather-related, some from using stools and ladders or standing on chairs. By thinking more about how to reach higher objects or the kind of shoes being worn, injuries can be prevented, the superintendent said. Other claims come from excessive lifting, also an easily prevented cause with the right precautions.
In other action, the board voted to change the carrier for its dental insurance. A cost for district employees and not the district itself, dental coverage was due for a significant increase under the current carrier. Jungmann reported the district's insurance broker, Forrest T. Jones, recommended a switch to Brokers National, which was approved.
What the employees wanted was a two-tiered plan that had orthodontic coverage, something the old carrier did not provide. Brokers National allowed the addition of orthodontic coverage at little additional cost.