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Purdy R-2 board approves cuts for coming year

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

After an extended discussion the Purdy R-2 Board of Education voted to approve $103,729 in budget cuts for the 2010-11 school year.

Board members received cost-cutting proposals in closed session at the April board meeting. Discussion focused on several less popular choices.

Superintendent Jerry Lingo pointed out a 10 percent cut for all student activities would not affect programs equally, since a number of student groups raised their own money. Board secretary Stacey Williams said a 20 percent cut in speech and debate, which had been discussed, would eliminate several events and impact how well students did in remaining contests.

Most of the discussion centered on the fall baseball program, which does not count toward state rankings. Board President Randy Henderson said that if fall baseball was only practice, the team could play all its games against one local team and get the same benefit. Traveling as far as Forsyth to have different teams to play was unnecessary.

Board member Ed Mareth said he had been approached by a patron about covering the cost of continuing fall baseball, thereby freeing the board of the expense. The idea of leaving a program up in the air annually got a mixed reaction. Henderson said there had been little support like that shown in the past. Mareth argued the students should have the opportunity to save fall baseball with their own fundraisers if they really wanted it.

As the discussion progressed, other cuts made prior to this point were noted. Middle School Principal Janet Boys told about fifth and sixth grade teachers juggling their schedules to share a bigger load of incoming fifth graders next year without adding a teacher. Elementary Principal Jeff Swadley said aides not had been replaced and a full-time Title I teacher who did not return was not replaced, leaving other staff to do more with less.

Seeing these points, board members voted to make all the recommended cuts, leaving the option open for students or patrons to replace eliminated funds.

Cuts include: reducing a speech therapy position to part-time ($14,570); reducing a full-time English language teacher to a part-time position ($15,863); eliminating a bus route and driver ($13,516); eliminating the Missouri Virtual School that offers advanced placement classes not taught locally ($9,500); eliminating free employee meals ($26,000); reduction in band budget ($3,000); elimination of fall baseball ($6,195); reduction of building supply budgets ($8,000); reduction of textbook funds ($2,000) and eliminating Missouri School Boards Association October trip ($5,085).

Financial moves

Board members voted to renew the district's contract with the Southwest Area Career Center (SWACC) for the coming year. Fifteen students have signed up to date. The board voted to cap participation at 20 students but agreed to reconsider if one or two more are interested.

Lingo said sending 22 students this year cost $39,200. With a $200 per student tuition increase, sending 20 students next year would cost $41,305.

The annual certification statement for the individuals with Disabilities Education Act was approved. The federal program brought $116,772 to the district and was used to pay the salaries of special education teachers.

The conclusion of the Missouri General Assembly has resulted in no changes to the Foundation Formula directing state funding to districts, Lingo said. Funding for the present school year will end with a reduction of around 1.5 percent, less than the 2 percent prediction. Lingo said the district should expect state funding to fall by another 4 percent next year. Cuts in funding for transportation and Parents As Teachers will continue, Lingo added.

Personnel hired

Following a closed session, the board voted to hire Don Terry to continue as a high school science teacher. Terry had previously submitted a letter of retirement but having reached the end of his chemotherapy believes he will be healthy enough to continue teaching.

In a special meeting on April 27, board members voted to hire Thomas Egan as a middle school special education teacher and varsity boys basketball coach. Egan has been with the Mountain Grove District. Stephanie Ray, a recent Drury University graduate, was hired as an elementary physical education teacher and as the new high school varsity volleyball coach.

Administrative reports

Principals provided a summary of year-end activities. Swadley told how other teachers pitched in to help with sets and costumes for the elementary spring concert while music teacher Sarah Vaughn, confined to a wheelchair with her leg in a cast, successfully led the 150-plus participants in a major production.

The tote bags presented to middle school teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week declaring "Our teachers rock!" complemented the performance by faculty in a "Rock Band" show for the MAP test motivational assembly.

Jacqueline Fuller reported on the credit recovery program for students who fall behind, where 35 courses were made up by 16 students. For those unable to return to the level of their age group, Fuller reviewed how students age 17 to 21 could earn a degree through the Missouri Options program. Progress developing the A+ program was summarized.

Candy Burnside briefed the board on participation in the Career Ladder program for the year. Teachers put in nearly 5,000 additional hours of work during the year, paid for through the program, including 1,115 hours in tutoring. Burnside said 48 teachers want to participate in Career Ladder next year. She and Lingo would discuss where to focus fewer hours in light of state funding cuts in the fall.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on June 21.

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