Personnel, program issues and funding represented the major focus at the Purdy R-2 Board of Education's April meeting.
Two-term incumbent Randy Henderson and second-time candidate Ken Terry took the oath of oath at the board's reorganizational meeting from Stacey Williams, board secretary. Board members then voted to retain Henderson as board president and Ronnie Veith as vice president.
A reception was held for six-term incumbent Curtis Schallert, who chose not to run again. A plaque of appreciation was presented to Schallert by Superintendent Jerry Lingo. In part, the plaque read, "A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. One does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of their actions and the integrity of their intents. In the end, leaders are like eagles . . . they don't flock, you find them one at a time."
Much of the March and April meetings have been spent in closed session on personnel matters. Williams said the board's decision to name the Community Teachers Association as negotiating agent for the faculty has affected salary discussions but not hiring matters. No pay schedules have been announced for the coming year. At the close of the April meeting, the board opted to table the issue of extra duty stipends.
Three resignations were approved in open session. Third grade teacher Bruce Lentz and elementary teacher Michelle Lentz resigned. Phillip Witt, the district's second agriculture teacher, resigned to pursue a degree from Texas Tech University.
All the non-tenured certified staff and non-certified staff who had not resigned were rehired for the coming year.
At the April meeting, the board hired Nance Doubrava as middle school and high school counselor for next year, succeeding Ashley Finley. This will be Doubrava's first job as a counselor. She will complete her master's degree from Missouri State University in December. Julie Dalton, who has worked as a reading coach for the past two years, was hired as a special education aide.
The board planned to meet on April 27 to fill remaining job vacancies.
Marching band proposal
A detailed proposal to create Purdy's first marching band program generated interested discussion by board members. Band teacher Adams stated he had a commitment from Mareth Enterprises to cover the $23,000 cost of new uniforms. Color guard uniforms, shoes and additional instruments would be needed as well, adding about $4,360 in costs beyond the basic band budget.
Board members were impressed with the proposal but echoed Superintendent Lingo's concern about unseen costs, typical with a new program. Board member Mike Bennett reported he had talked to the Mareth Enterprises leaders, who wanted to see students undertake fundraising efforts for the balance of the money to establish a degree of ownership in the new program.
Board members chose to table the proposal for study. Lingo said the board was not shoving the proposal aside. Middle School Principal Janet Boys, who supervises Adams, felt there was still enough time to order supplies for the fall if a decision was made in May.
Lingo announced the Committee for Educational Equality, which has been suing the state over uneven distribution of state dollars, has not been able to complete its appeal. Oral arguments at the Missouri Supreme Court will be held May 18.
The committee has asked its participating districts for another round of funding. Purdy has been asked for 50 cents per student, totaling $345, with a promise this would be the last request. The additional amount will bring the Purdy district's total over the years of the lawsuit to $4,851.51. Board members decided to stick to their commitment and pay the last amount.
Membership in the Missouri School Boards Association was continued for $3,900, the same amount as last year.
Board members approved the tuition rate increase for students attending classes at the Southwest Area Career Center at Monett. The increase was broken down to $100 more per student for each semester in the coming year, a formula continuing for the following year as well. Increased funding was needed to offset a deficit running over the past five years, Lingo said.
Purdy is currently sending 24 students to the Career Center. High School Principal Bob Vice said there were 30 applicants. Students are screened so that only those who will represent Purdy well are selected to attend, Vice said. The district's contract commits the district to pay for a minimum of 22 students, allowing more to be added if the district can afford it.
The Career Ladder program was approved for continuation. Committee spokesperson Cindy Burnside had no guideline changes to propose. Lingo said the district is spending $60,730 for additional services from teachers in the program this year. Spending for next school year was estimated at $3,000 more.
Lingo reported rain has prevented previous attempts to seal the leaking north wall on the gym. Another attempt was scheduled for April 25.
Enrollment has presently grown by seven over last year at this time. The elementary school count had increased by four over last month and three more had enrolled in the past month at the high school.
Principals reported on recent activities. Elementary Principal Jeff Swadley said attendance at parent-teacher conferences was the lowest in five years. Middle school parent-teacher conference attendance was lower than in the fall, said Principal Janet Boys.
Major upcoming school events include the school-wide Spring Art Show Awards Evening and choral concert on April 28, the FFA Banquet on May 2, DARE graduation and the spring band concert on May 8.
The board's May meeting is slated for 6:30 p.m. on May 18.