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Purdy School District to become tobacco free

Monday, July 27, 2009

A tobacco-free school district policy was adopted by the Purdy R-2 Board of Education at its July meeting. Tuition and lunch rates saw no increases for the coming year and plans were announced to refurbish the high school gym before school starts

Superintendent Jerry Lingo presented board members with a "tobacco-free district" policy after having been approached by Leesa Ginther, registered nurse and project coordinator for the Barry County Chronic Disease Coalition. Documentation from the coalition stated 23 percent of high school students are current cigarette smokers and that the adult smoking rate in Missouri is among the highest in the nation.

"Smoke free policies can change the attitudes and behaviors of adolescents by challenging the perception of smoking as a normal adult behavior, resulting in tobacco use initiation," the coalition stated.

Lingo said the district did not really have a problem from tobacco use. Staff that smoke have been given a specific space where they could go. Smoking has been tolerated outside the school gym during athletic events.

"This policy says we don't approve," Lingo said.

The new policy extended a prohibition across all school property. The coalition will provide free signage announcing the ban. Previously the prohibition on student use was only mentioned in the student handbook. The new policy also referred to student use and referred to discipline under board policy.

Board members adopted the policy after discussing what employees will have to do to continue smoking during school hours. No objections to the policy were raised. Lingo said that unlike the Monett school district, which determined the policy was unenforcible with its many campuses, Purdy's school facilities were consolidated enough to make a tobacco-free policy work.

Board members saw no reason to raise tuition rates for the coming year. Lingo said there are no out-of-district students paying the rate anyway and he saw no reason to alter the $4,000 charge, payable in halves by semester if requested. The old rate, noted to be lower than most districts, was continued for another year.

Meal prices also stayed the same for the coming year. Lingo reported the food service program had gone from a $24,000 deficit the previous year to having $12,711 left over after the 2008-09 year. The number of meals served was up. Lingo credited the staff with successes in the program and said providing a bit more food for high school students may have helped reduce complaints.

Board members adopted the final revised budget for the 2008-09 school year, reflecting actual spending. The district ended the year with a fund balance of $1.5 million, down about $500,000 after spending $636,009 to finish the school construction projects.

For planning purposes, Lingo distributed a proposed schedule showing when presentations on various school programs will be made at monthly board sessions. Most of the presentations are required by Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the auditor or made for the board's information. Some of the presentations had been moved to different months, Lingo said.

Registration had been filed for the annual Missouri School Boards Association meeting on Oct. 23 to 25 in Tan-Tar-A. Lingo said this was the earliest he had ever received sign-up information for the conference, which is usually attended by all the board members.

On facilities, Lingo said asphalting around the school campus had been finished. He expected sealing would be done during the last week of July, leaving all the asphalt the same color for a change. Striping will follow.

Lingo reported refinishing work on the high school gym started July 21 and the gym would reopen for public use on August 3.

Surveyor Sam Goodman had picked up materials on the district's property questions over ownership of the grounds around the city park. He expected researching the various deeds would take a number of weeks.

The board accepted a resignation from special education speech implementor Monica Dummit, who has worked for the district for seven years. Dummit recently completed her master's degree and planned to take a full-time position with the Monett District.

In closed session the board hired Jeannette Johnson of Monett to take Dummit's place.

The third annual new employee reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. prior to the next board meeting on Aug. 17. Around nine people are joining the staff, said Lingo. Board President Randy Henderson said the reception provided a good opportunity to meet new hires who otherwise may not see the board during the year.

The annual tax levy hearing was scheduled for 6 p.m. on Aug. 17. The regular board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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