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Purdy school board rehires administrators, approves calendar

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Purdy R-2 Board of Education rehired its administrators, adopted the 2009-10 calendar, and extended its contract with its auditor during its February meeting.

One-year extensions were added to the contracts of high school principal Bob Vice, middle school principal Janet Boys, and elementary principal Jeff Swadley following a closed session evaluation of their performance.

The board also approved giving assistant high school basketball coach Chris Branstetter the job of fifth and sixth grade basketball coach. Branstetter recently completed his student teaching, and has been substituting for the district as needed. He was recommended for the position by high school coach Chris Kennedy, who had those responsibilities. Not being well acquainted with Branstetter, board members agreed with the provision the assignment was only for this school year.

The resignation of special education aide Ila Graves was accepted. Graves is 75 and is retiring after 10 years of service.

Two additions were made to the ongoing substitute list. William Hemphill, who has training in chemistry, and Donna Meister were added to the list of those who could be hired on short notice.

The reorganizational meeting for the school board was scheduled for April 20, on the day of the regular April meeting. The date falls within the required 14 days after the April election. The oath of office will be administered at 6 p.m., and the regular meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.

Evaluation of certified staff was scheduled for the March 16 regular meeting. Reviewing all the staff in one night is time consuming, but Superintendent Jerry Lingo said it was difficult to find another date at this time of year.

New snow day strategy

The school calendar for the 2009-10 school year was adopted. Lingo observed the dates fall very similarly to the current year, with the first day of school falling on August 19, one day earlier than in 2008. The district would have three days off for Thanksgiving vacation, and two weeks off for Christmas.

The way the calendar fell, school could have been held on Monday and Tuesday of Christmas week, but if it was, graduation would fall on a Monday. Lingo considered that to be a bad option worth avoiding, and adjusted the schedule accordingly.

Lingo noted snow days has become more of an issue. If no days are missed, school will be out on May 19. Graduation for the high school will be on May 15 regardless. The first two snow days scheduled were May 20 and 21. After that, Lingo proposed taking out Mondays, on February 22, March 22, and April 12, in that order. If all those days are used, he called for adding days at the end of the year, from May 24 to 28.

The schedule held as closely as possible to the one adopted by the Monett R-1 school district for students going to the Southwest Area Career Center at Monett, the superintendent said. He further noted four in-service sessions were scheduled, the latest on January 23, as the district prepared for its review under the Missouri School Improvement Plan next spring.

The current school calendar was revised, taking into account snow days already used, and figuring on no further weather disruptions this year.

Positive audit reported

As a routine move, board members rehired the Springfield accounting firm of Davis, Lynn, and Moots to review the district's books for another year. "I don't feel we could find a firm to work closer with us, year round," said Lingo. "They're good to help us out in rules and regulations, and give us hints on how to move money around. I see no reason not to renew them." Board secretary Stacey Williams added she too had a good working relationship with the auditors, and commented on their aid with changes in the law.

It was noted the auditor anticipated a nine percent rate increase for the coming year. That would put the annual cost around $10,000 to $11,000. Board member Tracy Tate felt that was a minimal increase, considering the expertise the firm provided.

The audit for school year 2007-08 showed an overall positive financial position for the district. Total assets of just over $2 million were down by $1.7 million after the construction project around the school campus finished. Spending exceeded revenues for the year by $1.8 million, the balance coming from bond money approved by voters.

The district's operating balances increased by almost $100,000 in the year, while the debt service fund dropped by nearly $50,000. Auditors noted fund balances were expected to decrease during the current year "due to the economic factors that impact state minimum guarantee funding."

Auditors expressed concern about the district having limited internal controls over its financial reporting. They considered these to be material weaknesses, due to the district's small office staff, a minor concern, and thus no opinion was offered on whether the district's material was free from misstatements.

General information in the audit noted for that school year, the Purdy district had total average daily attendance of 720, and an average summer school attendance of 43. Out of the 727 students tallied in September, 380 students or 44 percent qualified for free or reduced meals.

At the February meeting, the board revised its budget going into the second half of the year. Lingo reported positive balances in all the district's funds.

Enrollment concerns

Enrollment continues to be watched closely by the principals. Vice observed the high school had one more student than in February 2008. Boys thought the middle school enrollment was good overall at 233. Several had signed up after Christmas, and several left in the second week of February. Swadley observed the elementary school lost six pupils after the ice storm when those families moved out of the district. Not counting last year's fifth graders, who moved to the middle school, Swadley said the elementary school was down about 20 students from last year.

Attendance in January held at 96 percent for the elementary school, 95.3 percent at the middle school despite a bout of chicken pox, and 94 percent at the high school, which was still a bit higher than last year.

Vice talked about plans for parent-teacher conferences scheduled for March 16, 17, and 19. The prom had been scheduled early for March 28 at the Hill Creek Lodge, thus avoiding a number of later scheduling conflicts, especially the state FFA conference. He further commended the high school cheerleaders for their efforts in decorating the gym and handling the coronation ceremony for homecoming. Cheerleaders took those duties back from the Student Council this year.

The National Honor Society induction ceremony had been scheduled for March 12. Vice reported the firm hired to upload transcript information had failed to do so in a timely manner, thus delaying information about qualified students for consideration. Nomination is based on grade point averages.

Swadley provided the board with photos of fourth grade students in Cindy Burnside's and Amanda Spears' classes participating in the annual Wax Museum project. Participants picked a famous Missourian, prepared a few paragraphs about that person, memorized the text, then developed a costume for presentation. Several of the presentations this year have been added to the district's Web site, where a pod cast of the class work can be viewed.

Construction update

In the superintendent's report, Lingo briefed the board that work was almost completed on the new roof for the vocational agriculture building.

Considerable effort had been made to determine why moisture was seeping through the north wall of the high school gym. This may have been going on for some time, but was not discovered until that wall was sealed. No one has been able to definitively figure out where the moisture comes from, Lingo said. Roofing contractor D.C. Taylor found no failures on their job or on the eaves.

Varsity Contractors, which refinished the gym, sent representatives to see what was needed to preserve their work. They offered the district a bid of $4,425 to reseal the wall. If the problem continues, Lingo said, Varsity will send a team in after the district basketball tournament to take out the last row of bleachers, dry and scrape the wall, then repaint it at no additional charge.

As a maintenance issue continuing previous work, no bidding was required, Lingo said. The board liked the bid and approved the deal. Board member Curtis Schallert observed the board will watch to see what happens after the spring rains.

Lingo also made arrangements for the entire board to attend the spring Missouri School Boards Association on April 28 in Mt. Vernon.



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