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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Flu impacts R-1 student attendance

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monett Middle School. [Charles Brady, photo]
Dealing with the flu, state funding of the Career Ladder program and a change in the building rental policy were among the topics addressed by the Monett R-1 Board of Education during its October monthly meeting.

Recently, student attendance has been down, reported Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann.

With 20 high school band members absent, the band cancelled its participation in the Ozarko competition at Missouri State University. With such high numbers gone, the band would be putting "less than our best on the field," the superintendent said.

A junior high football game with Aurora was cancelled due to the visiting team having only 13 players. A pep rally by the Booster Club was cancelled as well.

"We're continuing to monitor the situation and follow the recommended procedures from the Health Department on keeping schools open as we fight our way through this pandemic," Jungmann said. "We hope to see better times."

Appeals by numerous school districts to not be penalized on their state evaluations due to flu absenteeism are apparently being heard by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Jungmann said DESE officials agreed it made no sense to impact district funding based on something completely beyond the control of the schools themselves.

Focusing on funding, the board heard that State Senator Gary Nodler, who heads the finance committee, had announced he would support fully funding the Career Ladder program this year if Governor Jay Nixon placed Career Ladder into the supplemental budget. It has been the practice of governors to ask for additional money midway through the year for programs running out of money.

In the past, Career Ladder has been paid out of the general fund without an additional appropriation. Concern was still noted that even if Nixon made the request, there would still not be enough general fund money to cover the state's commitment to pay half of the Career Ladder cost. In that case, legislators would dip into federal stimulus stabilization money to cover the program, leaving less to aid other programs as intended.

Jungmann suspected Nixon would make the request for a supplemental appropriation to save the Career Ladder program this year.

Board members approved the district's annual audit as prepared by The CPA Group in Monett. No major concerns were noted.

Looking at facilities, Jungmann reported the budget for the new additions at the Southwest Area Career Center are winding down. Three-phase electricity for the construction technology class is being brought over from the east, and students are progressing as they finish the classroom area inside.

The current moving plan calls for bringing the family and consumer science classroom from the high school to the Career Center over Christmas break. At this point Jungmann said it will not be necessary to move the high school business classrooms this school year. That switch will be done over the summer.

Board members agreed to update the facility rental agreement. Cost for custodial and kitchen staff had reached the point where the district is losing money. A new rate will go into effect on July 1 for the 2010-11 school year.

A new agreement recommended by Jungmann was adopted whereby the Missouri School Boards Association will do a full review of the district's policy manual and maintain in for the future. The board will continue to review and adopt policy changes. The main change will come from turning over the duties of incorporating policy changes into the manual from office staff to the MSBA.

The initial review will take up to 24 months. Cost will be $5,000 for the first two years and maintaining the manual will cost $2,500 annually after that. The MSBA will also host a website for the district, posting all the policies on the internet. Jungmann said the move would free up the board secretary and technology people to focus on other things.

Cox Health Systems had done a screening of employees before school had started. In the subsequent report, Cox staff made a number of recommendations to work a wellness plan into the district's program that would benefit attendance, performance and insurance. The two biggest focus areas, Jungmann said, were encouraging exercise and healthy eating.

Board members reviewed the technology implementation effort from Melody Paige, technology integration specialist. Paige had 56 teachers in October training on the internet. The district's web page had 111,000 hits in a month's time, and 7,000 in one week as parents sought input on the flu situation.

In personnel action, the board hired Steve Graves as the Delta instructor to work with at-risk students at the Career Center for the rest of the semester on a trial basis. Status of the position would be re-evaluated after that. Board members also approved early graduation for one student.

The next board meeting will be held on Nov. 19.

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