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R-6 board members approve new fee scale for architect with a split 4-2 vote

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Pierce City R-6 Board of Education voted to increase reimbursement for its architect after approving its current building project and approved the student handbook for the coming year on split votes.

Architect Richard Werner updated board members on the budget that was taking shape for the new art and music addition to the high school. The wood cabinetry remained a major variable, Werner said, and he would probably recommend putting a new roof over the concession area of the gym to attach it better to the new addition.

At a special meeting, the board approved a $6,827.90 contract with Heithaus Engineering, of Springfield, for a geological study of the school grounds for the art/music building, the proposed ag classroom and shop east of the current gym and the proposed new high school south of the current middle school.

Werner's previous contract, approved when the board started pursuing construction of a multi-million-dollar new high school building, called for paying the architect 4.75 percent of the total contract price. With the latest project reduced to $450,000 to $500,000, Werner asked for an increase to where his firm would be paid 5.75 percent. He pointed out architects typically charge up to 7 percent.

Board member David Jones said any discussion about rates should have come before the project was approved. The board had proceeded with an expectation that Werner would honor the existing contract, although Werner's colleague Jim Rutledge said Werner might want to talk about a fee adjustment.

Werner said he only wanted what was fair and offered to do the job for the lower price as discussion became more pointed. Board members, however, would not take their motion to raise Werner's fee off the table and approved the proposal on a 4-2 vote, with Jones and Kent Boursheski voting against it.

By another 4-2 vote, the board adopted the athletic handbook for the coming school year. Richard Kutz voted against it as an objection to the standing policy restricting students who participate in one sport from taking part in camps for other sports at the same time. High School Principal Steve Garner said the policy hoped to prevent injuries unrelated to the active sports season. Kutz said students would engage in other sports whether under school auspices or not, regardless of school policy, so fighting what already happens makes no sense.

Fred Slagle voted against the manual to object to the new provision banning a student from participating in sports for a year on a second offense of quitting a sport beyond the deadline for dropping out.

"I feel it's too stringent. Maybe [the policy] will get kids to not try out," Slagle said.

St. Mary's sports agreement approved

Board members unanimously approved the cooperative agreement proposed by St. Mary's Catholic School that would allow St. Mary's students to participate in sports programs at the public middle school. Sally Heidlage, St. Mary's co-principal, said the sports involved this year would be football and boys basketball. St. Mary's had enough girls to field their own teams without partnering with the public school.

St. Mary's would change its schedule to accommodate practice times, Heidlage said. Students would have to make up the time they missed in class to maintain eligibility.

Budget amended

The board amended its budget to close the fiscal year better than expected by more than $1,000. Superintendent Russ Moreland said a conservative spending plan and a good year-end Proposition C disbursement from the state made the difference.

A preliminary budget was adopted for the coming school year. The revised teacher salary schedule dropped the earlier plan to freeze salaries and will credit certified staff with another year of service, moving up a step on the schedule. A 1 percent raise for administrators and non-certified staff was included.

Under the budget, Moreland said only the district's building fund would decline, since money for the new addition would come entirely out of it. The superintendent did not expect assessed valuation to rise as expected, leaving property tax income fairly flat.

The state's Foundation Formula that funds schools calculates payments on average daily attendance. Moreland said lower recent enrollments will reduce state funding after next year.

"I think we'll have some hard decisions to make in the spring. We won't have the numbers to do all of what we're doing," Moreland said.

In closed session, the board accepted the resignation of second grade teacher Melody Phillips, who is taking a job with the Cassville District. Two first-year teachers, Luke Rainey and Stacy Quasney, were hired as elementary teachers for next year.

Stimulus funds sought

In other action, the board approved applying for a grant using federal stimulus money to buy water softeners for both cafeterias, a steam kettle and a new range for a total cost of $10,280. No local match would be required.

Moreland reported the district will get more federal money for Title I and special education next year due to the federal stimulus package. He is looking at upgrading switches and the switch base for the district's computer network, updating the reading series for the Reading First program, buying more Smart Boards to have one in every elementary classroom and possibly adding to the Early Childhood classroom.

The board agreed to discontinue the practice of paying for background checks on substitute teachers. Many districts do not follow the procedure, and the district is using a familiar list of substitutes at this time.

Principals reported 159 students in summer school at the elementary and middle schools, and 38 in academic classes at the high school. An additional 96 students signed up for conditioning and driver's education.

Principal Teresa Abramovitz reported color coded stripes have been added to the elementary halls to identify emergency evacuation routes.

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