Getting ready for the coming school year, the Pierce City R-6 Board of Education tackled teacher pay and vacancies at its March and April board meetings.
Superintendent Russ Moreland presented the board with a budget for the 2009-10 school year that calls for an overall deficit of $2,379. Factoring out the debt service reserve, which has $23,160 in restricted funds for paying off debt, the deficit would rise to $25,539. The budget includes a reduction of $109,050 in supplies and equipment.
"These supply savings are pretty much down to the bone in order to still be able to purchase things we need for basic operations," Moreland stated.
The proposal called for eliminating the golf program to save $4,000, cutting the number of students attending the Southwest Area Career Center, reducing cafeteria hours and freezing salaries for faculty and staff.
The preliminary salary schedule that detailed the freeze was adopted at the April meeting, including the base pay of $27,750. The schedule bases pay in part on the number of years a certified employee has worked for the district.
Rather than simply freezing pay, leaving the board to catch up later on years of service, the board kept the existing schedule, applying the same numbers across the board for next year.
Board secretary Debbie Hogan explained that teachers get credit for another year of service even though it generates no additional pay. Those who finish a master's degree will, however, still get a raise as dictated by the pay formula.
Contracts mailed out to teachers listed salaries as frozen, leaving the option for the board to approve a higher amount by June 30, should action by the state legislature change the situation.
The board approved summer school staff pay at the same rates as last year.
Not all the financial news was bad. The board adopted the health insurance plan with the consortium of around 10 schools in which Pierce City has participated for a number of years at no increase. Cost to the district will remain $276.25 per month per employee through Mercy Health Plans.
Around a dozen teaching positions opened up for the coming year. At the March meeting, the board accepted resignations from Janene Keipers, who is retiring as an elementary teacher, and Raquel Maldonado, who left a middle school special education job for a post with the Monett School District. The contract with high school special education teacher Amy Wright was not renewed.
At the April meeting, three resignations were accepted. High school agriculture teacher Laura Allen left, reducing the program to one instructor. Middle school math and science teacher Christy Witt resigned so that she and her husband, one of the ag teachers at Purdy, could pursue degrees at Texas Tech University. T.J. Dickinson, high school math teacher and coach for the boys basketball and golf programs, resigned to take a position with the Cassville School District.
Hired in March was former graduate Lanese Witt-Schulte as a middle school math teacher. Jason French was hired as a high school science teacher, coming from the Sarcoxie School District.
In April, the board hired Denny Allen to succeed Jana Cope as high school Spanish teacher and Spanish Club sponsor. Jessica Townlian was hired as a high school math teacher. Tiffany Dirks, who is moving from Huntsville, Ala., will succeed Christy Witt as middle school math and science teacher and take over Jessica Rinehart's duties as assistant high school volleyball coach. Dirks will become the district's curriculum director.
Jeff Charles, who has been on the substitute teacher list, was hired as a high school special education teacher. He was been finishing his student teaching in the Webb City District. Marla Kemp, a certified teacher who has been working as an aide in the Carthage and Lockwood districts, was hired as a middle school special education teacher.
With Dickinson leaving, assistant boys basketball coach Matt Street was named head coach for next year. The board split the extra duty assignments that had been done by Karen Faucett, who resigned in January to take a position closer to home with the Crane School District. Deborah Cholley will take over as junior class sponsor. Crystal Charles will be sponsor of the National Honor Society next year. James Hirsch was hired as a part-time custodian for the elementary school.
The board spent time considering what to do about a building project after the public rejected two funding proposals on April 7. Investment banking and bonding firm L.J. Hart offered to get a voters list to do an analysis for a future election.
Architect Richard Werner said the board needs to provide direction. Several phases were proposed in the building plan. Werner suggested doing work in smaller pieces or a different order. Board sentiment could be passed to the building committee for development of another proposal.
Moreland indicated the state legislature is considering a bill that would lower the limit for passing a bond issue to a four-sevenths margin for two more election dates during the year, in addition to April. At the present time, the next opportunity to seek an election at four-sevenths would be next April.
The April enrollment report showed 45 pre-school students, 294 in kindergarten through fifth grade, 165 at the middle school, and 247 at the high school. Attendance was slightly under 95 percent at the high school in April but higher than that for the lower grades.
Elementary Principal Teresa Abramovitz reported the Jordan Valley Dental Bus saw 50 students during a recent visit at no cost.
Upcoming events include the FFA banquet on May 8, Senior Awards Night on May 12, baccalaureate and commencement on Sunday, May 17 at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium, and eighth grade graduation on May 18 at 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.