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Monett school board considers new construction

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New construction is being considered by the Monett R-1 Board of Education. Board members also heard an update on current building projects and approved a work contract at their June monthly meeting.

Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann told board members the district has the potential for saving money in the next 12 months. The federal stimulus package will make interest-free bonds available for construction and renovation.

"We have the potential to run a no-tax-increase bond issue this year," Jungmann said. Such bonds could be sold interest-free, significantly reducing the final price of a building project.

A budget workshop was scheduled for July 20, at which time board members will talk about a bond issue. Jungmann said the district's next priority is renovating the Monett Elementary School campus. The 1960s-style spread-out arrangement with most classrooms opening to the outdoors has been a security concern in recent years. The board has previously reviewed one set of architectural drawings in search of a new vision for the campus.

"We must decide when is the right time, if there is a lot of potential savings, to go to voters," Jungmann said. "We will continue that conversation."

In the meantime, the board approved a contract for $70,500 with Kenney Hall Construction for improvements on the South Building at the middle school. Hall's bid was significantly lower than the other two bidders, Jungmann said.

Work on the South Building has already started. Jungmann and Board President David Beckett had been authorized to approve construction before the board vote. New lighting and a dropped ceiling, along with new flooring, are being installed. Jungmann expected the building should have "a significant face lift" by the time school starts in mid-August.

Construction is advancing on additions at the Southwest Area Career Center. Bricks are nearly in place on the four new classrooms on the west wing. Two business classrooms, one for family and consumer science, and a fourth for a computer lab will house fields of study that have been at the high school. Moving them will provide additional space in the high school this fall, Jungmann said.

The steel frame is in place for the new construction technology classroom on the north side of the Career Center. Next to it the construction technology class has already completed the exterior of its next home building project. The house sits on a wood base elevated by bricks set on a concrete foundation.

Students in the construction technology class will complete both the house and their own class building in the year ahead. Contractors will do the classroom building's exterior, leaving the finishing work for the students.

This week construction crews will start building an extension to the canopy in front of the high school, extending it across the parking lot to the Career Center. With classes that Monett High School students attend moving over to the Career Center, the board decided better weather protection was needed.

The canopy will be functional by the time school opens on August 19, if not finished, Jungmann said.

3-30 R-1 Board for June 7/3

By MURRAY BISHOFF

Preparing for the year ahead, the Monett R-1 Board of Education adopted a new salary schedule, hired new teachers and reviewed programs at its June meeting.

Meeting on the last day in June, board members got a detailed look at the district's financial picture in closing the books on the 2008-09 school year. Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann reported funds were in good shape. The operations fund will open the new year with a balance of $3 million, with a reserve that is almost 4 percent higher than a year ago.

The higher balances came from banking the state's reimbursement for construction of the Southwest Area Career Center. Jungmann said the money first went into the building fund, so the year will start with $2 million available for construction. Half of that balance will go to current construction at the Career Center. Some of the reimbursement went into a reserve fund. Some went into operations to offer a cushion for the coming year.

Unlike other districts, the R-1 district historically does not determine its salary schedule for the coming school year until the June meeting, at the end of the fiscal year. To encourage decisions about pay, Greg Allen and Steve Wilson presented the Community Teachers Association view on salaries. Allen and Wilson encouraged the board to boost the middle pay range to be more competitive and deter staff turnover.

The board then approved a pay package that will cost the district approximately $246,000 more than last year. Funding a new step in the salary schedule for another year of service added $95,000 to the cost. The health insurance package increased costs by another $90,000 and a one-half percent increase in retirement cost the district $61,000 in new money.

A budget workshop was scheduled for July 20 to work out more details on next school year's spending plan.

"The good news is Monett is still growing in enrollment, unlike a lot of area districts," Jungmann said. "That's critical at a time when assessed valuation is flat. Preliminary information from the county assessors show personal property assessments dropped, so there will be no gain on assessed valuation.

"We will see a gain in revenue on the state formula as it is phased in, and in student enrollment growth. We won't know how much growth will be until school starts," Jungmann said.

The board accepted the bid from insurance broker Nixon and Lindstrom for insurance to cover workers compensation, property and casuality, liability and errors and omissions.

The cost for workers compensation was in itself down by around $20,000, Jungmann said, a good sign, breaking a trend of rising insurance costs and reflecting greater focus by employees on reducing injury situations. The entire insurance package cost $91,809 from the same carrier as last year.

In personnel action, the board accepted the resignation of Amy Johnson as communication arts teacher at the high school. Hired to replace her was Ivy Nelson, a recent Missouri State University graduate.

With the departure of Teresa Stark as coordinator of the adult education program at the Career Center, Kim McCracken was named to take over those duties on a part-time basis. Jungmann said since Missouri Southern State University and Drury University have their programs with the Career Center past the start-up stage and have staff in Monett, a full-time coordinator of adult programs is no longer needed. McCracken will remain full-time, teaching in the mornings.

Stark's departure also left an opening in the at-risk program. John Patterson, who had been released earlier in the year, was hired back for at-risk instruction.

A contract was offered to Monica Dummit as a special education teacher. Dummit is presently a half-time speech implementor for the Purdy District and will have to be released from her contract.

Activities starting the 2009-10 school year will start on Thursday, August 13, when Jungmann will give his annual address on the state-of-the district. Rather than having two days of preparation for teachers before classes start, this year an extra day with no scheduled activities has been added on August 18.

Jungmann said with the new emphasis on technology integration, another day of preparations before students arrive should be helpful. Melody Paige, the district's technology program head who is being switched to technology integration specialist for the coming year, talked to board members about how she will be working with nearly 100 teachers on different levels of professional development.

Training sessions for new teachers have been scheduled for August 3 to 5.

In other business, the board approved its annual compliance statement with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A drill press from the Career Center was approved for sale as surplus property.

Jungmann gave board members a list of policies recommended by the Missouri School Boards Association for passage in July. Among the policies were frameworks for collective bargaining and for solicitations and advertising on school grounds.

"The district does not currently have policies on these areas now," Jungmann said. "It's time to put them in place and make them appropriate for us."

Action by the State Legislature had been expected on collective bargaining. Since legislators chose not to act, Jungmann said the board should take a position on its own.



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