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R-7 board explores new programs

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Verona R-7 Board of Education reviewed potential program innovations during its October meeting.

Dr. Rosa Maria Mejia, the Hispanic initiative director at Missouri State University, approached Superintendent William Sweet about opening the school computer lab to help Hispanic community members increase their skills through the Internet with a college in Mexico.

The lab would be needed one or two nights a week. The Hispanic initiative previously worked in Verona running two workshops on the 21010 federal census. A similar proposal has been made to the Monett R-1 School District.

Board members requested additional information prior to making a decision. Mejia will discuss the matter further at the Nov. 17 monthly meeting, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Elementary Principal Jeannie Abeln told the board Jerome and Kenna Freiburger had donated a cordless microphone for use at assemblies and other programs. As president of the Parent Teacher Organization, Mrs. Freiburger has organized a number of programs at the school.

One speaker requested to use a cordless microphone, which the district did not have. Rather than borrow one, the Freiburgers purchased a microphone and donated it to the district. Board members expressed their appreciation for the resource.

The elementary school has received a $4,500 grant through the Parent Information Resource Center. Abeln said funds enabled teachers in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, English as a second language and special education to acquire additional materials to encourage parent and student involvement.

A new technology offered for fourth to sixth grades comes through the Promethean Interactive Boards. Abeln explained the boards give teachers slates and active expressions for their students. These interactive devices enable students to give teachers feedback during the lesson, reflecting learning of concepts and skills. Abeln said the boards offer a new level of instruction for teachers.

Another new tool is testing student progress with Aimsweb. Abeln said the strategy apprises teachers of how students are doing and skills where they may struggle so that intervention may be added in a timely manner.

Financial action

Board members voted to grant junior high science teacher Donna Higginson a $525 stipend to act as sponsor for the junior high Science Olympiad.

The budget for the 2011-12 school year received its first quarterly update. Sweet said projections for the year remain on target, positioning the district for a 43 percent fund balance reserve by the end of June 2012. Additional adjustments are likely at the November meeting once the audit for the 2010-11 school year has been completed.

Policy update

Board members approved several policy changes.

A new policy was adopted stating that a registered sex offender could not run for a seat on the school board. At the recommendation of the Missouri Consultants for Education, the board agreed to ask for the resignation of any board member convicted as a sex offender.

In addition to the policy mandating teachers to report credible claims of abuse, board members added a new policy. Teachers who receive reports of abuse from children must forward the report to the superintendent, who is required to act by law filing the report within 24 hours.

The policy on employment for bus drivers was revised to require background checks by Gale Webb Bus Service, similar to checks done for all other district employees.

Board members passed two policies stemming from the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act referring to communications between faculty and students. A "light" version of the one policy change was adopted.

Administrative reports

Abeln reported the PTA had raised $5,876 and the district would receive approximately $2,000 of the funds.

Fifth graders received a presentation about participating in Cox Monett Hospital's Cardiac Kids program. Students and parents participated in a family fun night where they learned about nutrition, exercise and making simple healthy meals. The program is supported by the Children's Miracle Network.

A grant through the Missouri Foundation for Health has made possible a community asthma education program for students in fourth through sixth grades. The effort helps identify children with asthma, provides education for students and their families, improves the school district's management of asthma cases, plus provides supplies, medication assistance and access to a medical care specialists free of charge, Abeln said.

Fifth graders were participating in the eight-week Science Works on the Road program offered through the Discovery Center in Springfield. The program increases science knowledge and exposure through hands-on science experiments, and helps prepare students for state standardized tests. The program is designed to create long lasting energy and excitement for science, Abeln said. Topics include: zoology, weather, astronomy, energy, electricity and simple machines. A field trip to the Discovery Center concludes the program.

Recent student activities included the "Magic of No" assembly, encouraging students to avoid drugs and offering tips on dealing with peer pressure and bullying. Students in third to sixth grades who had made the A and A-B honor rolls took a field trip to the Corn Maize.

High school Principal Terry Winton reported sophomores and juniors had taken the PSAT test. FFA members attended the national convention, and eighth graders toured the Southwest Area Career Center in Monett to explore career options.

The board will next meet at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 17.

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