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Sunday, May 1, 2016

R-1 board focuses on financial future

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Work has progressed steadily at Monett Elementary School. Construction crews for RE Smith have poured footings on the second grade wing, above at right, west of the gymnasium. The new addition is also visible. The yellow section at right is where the storm shelter will be added. Construction around it has continued while arrangements for grant funding have been approved and finalized. The shelter section will be added in the coming months. With the parking lot altered for construction, bus drivers follow a new system for letting off students, who disembark and head into the gymnasium. Buses line up side by side instead of circling the lot in a line. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
The Monett R-1 Board of Education reviewed the school district's financial picture in light of Governor Jay Nixon's budget proposal during the January board meeting.

"The good news for K-12 (kindergarten through high school) education is the governor is asking the legislature to approve level funding for education," said Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann. "Level funding means no drastic reduction in services at the beginning."

Gaming revenue was reported down, cutting state money that will go to education. General revenue from the state was up enough for Nixon to release $7.5 million in transportation funds previously withheld. The amount represented about $7,500 for Monett, which Jungmann said would help offset the rising cost of fuel.

The district's income from the statewide Proposition C sales tax added up to $1,874,020.63 in 2010, up more than $70,000 from 2009 but still down $34,000 from the 2008 total.

The state has its appropriation from the Federal Jobs Bill, which has to be distributed to individual school districts by June 30. Nixon has asked districts to partner with the state and not spend the Jobs Bill money. If districts would partner with the state, the money could be kept to offset reductions in state funds for the 2011-12 school year.

"Everyone thinks they will be satisfied with that position," Jungmann said. "The concern becomes what happens in the following year, with no federal money available. We've pushed back the funding cliff a second time. The hope is we'll be seeing an economic turnaround by then. It appears we're moving in the right direction."

One big piece of legislation being pushed by the General Assembly leadership in both houses this year is general enrollment. Jungmann said because of the way Missouri school funding is structured, significant concern about a change exists.

"Our board and others are talking about having an open meeting to explain the facts and our concerns, both the pros and cons," Jungmann said. "We'll do it in early February, where we can invite the public to come in and we can get feedback. We can encourage patrons to talk to legislators. The statewide discussion has a lot of implications for schools."

Personnel action

In the annual review of the superintendent's job, the board voted to extend Jungmann's contract for another year, keeping him on a three-year employment arrangement.

Resignations were accepted from three teachers. David Grimm, who teaches physical education at Central Park Elementary and the Monett Middle School, announced his retirement. A football and track coach at the middle school, Grimm has been with the district for 10 years.

Also resigning were high school science teacher Melanie Mayberry and elementary teacher Rebecca Maddox.

The board hired Jayme Tackett to replace Mayberry. Tackett presently teaches at the East Newton district.

Construction continuing

Expansion work at Monett Elementary School has progressed smoothly, Jungmann reported. Steel has been erected over the new commons and office area. A few shifts in transportation have taken place, including parents using the bus driveway from the north to the east side of the campus.

Construction crews have started work on the new north parking area and planned to pour concrete on the second grade addition this week on the west side of the gym. Jungmann said the footprint for the entire new addition would shortly be in place, allowing visualization of how the campus would be knit together. Work has progressed on schedule.

Administrative review

One of the administrative goals this year has been to spend more time in classrooms, observing teachers at work and helping them improve their skills, including increasing their use of technology. Administrators set a goal of visiting 15 classrooms per week. They reported having conducted nearly 2,000 walk-throughs in the first semester, a major increase from past years.

Jungmann reported 81 faculty members had signed up for the Tutoring Enrichment and Mentoring (TEAM) program, the district-funded replacement for the Career Ladder. Teachers had given 1,698 hours of additional time in the first semester, which worked out to around 21 hours per participant.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is exploring a new way for districts to be evaluated for the Annual Performance Report, the state's assessment of how well districts work. The growth model would assess how far a students had progressed in a year's time, rather than just looking at the number of students performing at the top of the standardized tests.

Jungmann said the advantage to the growth model is that districts would not be penalized for having a student transfer in who performed far lower than other classmates. The national trend is going to a growth model. DESE is offering a webinar to show how the state would apply the new strategy. The district is interested in participating in the pilot program, but Jungmann wanted more information before a decision is made.

"The big thing is what is required from teachers. They may need to collect more data," Jungmann said. "The growth model makes sense as long as gathering additional data is not burdensome and processing the data does not hinder classroom instruction."

Board members also discussed the proposed changes in the downtown district that could allow a business to sell alcohol within 100 feet of a school or church with approval of the city council. Jungmann said the school district has no classrooms in the identified area at the present time and would not be affected. The board would still welcome the opportunity to offer input on changes.

The next regular board meeting will be held on Feb. 24 at the superintendent's office.

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