The Pierce City R-6 Board of Education approved purchase of a second van, accepted a revised budget and approved the annual audit during its October board meeting.
The board approved the purchase of a 2005 Ford Freestar van from Kenny Neal Ford in Sarcoxie for $9,769. This will be the second van the district owns. Superintendent Russ Moreland said the district is facing an extended commitment to transport a special needs student to Joplin. Acquisition of another vehicle will cost less than a bus and enable an aide to handle transportation, rather than needing a separate driver as well.
Three dealers had submitted bids. Moreland recommended buying from the local dealer instead of a more distant dealer whose bid was almost $200 less.
Architect Richard Werner reported construction on the new music and arts addition on the south side of the gym building started on Nov. 2. The contract called for finishing work in 152 days. The board authorized its president to sign the contract with Denali Construction for a base bid of $536,900.
Entrance to the building was switched to the west side as construction began. Werner said the yard would be needed for staging. Signs would be erected to direct pedestrian traffic during basketball season.
Several financial issues came before the board. A contract to handle the district's audit for the 2009-10 school year was approved with The CPA Group in Monett for $7,500, the same cost as the present audit. A letter of engagement to conduct the work was authorized.
Copies of the audit for the 2008-09 school year were distributed and approved. The report showed a $45,000 increase in the general fund balance, a $50,000 increase in the debt service fund balance and a $145,000 increase in the capital projects fund balance. Cash basis balance at year's end increased by more than $140,000, which was deemed to be a positive development.
Accountant Steve Harner passed on a recommendation made to each of the districts his firm audited this year. To further strengthen internal controls, Harner recommended having a board member perform surprise reviews of bank reconciliations for any given month in the school year. The board assigned its president to conduct the task.
The board approved a revised budget for the current year. With the current construction project underway, a $27,485 deficit was expected by year's end on the building fund. The general fund and the teachers fund were expected to hold even through the year, while money available to pay debts would increase by nearly $27,000 by the end of the year.
Board members voted to raise the pay for substitute teachers from $70 to $75 a day, and increase the daily wage for substitute aides by $4 a day. Moreland reported he found the district had fallen behind others in pay and he felt the move was necessary to continue attracting qualified help.
Moreland asked board members to consider alternatives to the way the fitness center has been run. The district is losing money offering the service. Moreland suggested reducing hours or perhaps cutting out summer use.
State test scores reviewed
Details on student scores on last spring's standardized state tests had arrived. Moreland said the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education asked the district not to release specifics until after the appeal period. Initial results for the top two performances levels were "very good," the superintendent said.
|High School Principal Steve Garner said last spring was the first year Pierce City students took end-of-course exams and it was hard to know what to expect. He was generally pleased with the results.||High school students did particularly well in English II, where 71 percent scored in the top two levels. In biology I, 53 percent scored in the highest two levels, while 39 percent scored in the top range for algebra I.|
Both Elementary Principal Teresa Abramovitz and Middle School Principal Gayla DeGraffenreid said there is always room to improve on test scores.
Moreland reported radios have now been installed on all district buses.
Enrollment is up by 15 students since school started.
"We simply need every kid we can get at this time," the superintendent wrote in his report.
Elementary students had viewed the skit "Whack the Flu" performed by high school. Abramovitz said students were still talking about the message.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 19.