The Verona R-7 Board of Education voted to make scheduling innovations when it approved a calendar for the 2012-13 school year during its January meeting.
Next school year, which begins on Aug. 16, Verona will start holding half-days every other Friday, twice a month, except for December, April and May. Superintendent William Sweet said students will go home at 12:30 p.m. on those days to give teachers the afternoon for collaboration and vertical alignment. It will be the first time Verona regularly has scheduled half-days for professional development.
The calendar cycle will run much like the current year. Sweet said students will meet for 174 days and teachers for 181 days. The last day of classes before Christmas will be Dec. 18. Teachers will return on Jan. 2, 2013, and students will return to class on Jan. 3, 2013.
Innovations in the current year include the acquisition of nine more Promethean Smart Boards. Last year, the district expanded its Title I program to the entire elementary school, enabling Title I funds to be used for technology acquisition. Principal Jeannie Abeln said document cameras have been purchased for many of the classrooms to allow more interactive teaching approaches.
"We're real pleased with what the Promethean Boards are able to do," Sweet said. "The challenge now is to find a way to upgrade the technology at the high school."
Sweet also told the board about a survey of school patrons that was taken using the School Messenger system. The rapid alert auto-calling equipment has a feature for calling and asking questions, which was used for the first time to ask views on the school's learning environment.
Three-quarters of respondents said they felt the district had a positive school climate. Eighty percent said they felt the adult staff members were approachable. Over 200 calls were made, and nearly 150 people responded to each question.
"I didn't expect to get a 100 percent positive response, but I'm very pleased with the results," Sweet said.
Board members voted to hire fifth and sixth grade basketball coaches. Brad Stewart was hired to coach the boys, and Sean Crane will teach the girls.
Sweet presented board members with framed certificates in honor of School Board Recognition Week.
"We would like to recognize the time and effort each board member sacrifices for the benefit of our students and community," Sweet said. "The Verona R-7 School is one of the largest companies in the community, and its success is due in no small part to the leadership provided by the members of the board."
Sweet updated the board on the progress of Judy Meadows, the district's long-time librarian who was injured in a farming accident over the Christmas break. Meadows lost her right arm above the elbow and is in good spirits, waiting for her doctor to release her to return to work.
Meadows plans to retire at the end of the school year. Sweet said she is presently learning how to write with her left hand and is waiting for a prosthesis fitting. Filling in for Meadows in the library, which serves all grades, is a substitute and aides who have shuffled duties to provide coverage.
Sweet reported young men with the Group Residential Individualized Program (GRIP) home cleaned up a row of brush on the west end of the lower parking lot, significantly improving the appearance.
Abeln told the board students in fourth through sixth grades participated in the annual spelling bee. Fourth grader Alisa Moua took first place and will represent the school in the regional contest in Joplin. Fifth grader Twilah Carrasquillo took second place.
Elementary students with asthma took classes offered by Cox Monett Hospital and received certificates for completing the work. The school nurse also conducted a strength training class for employees.
In closed session, the board conducted its review of the superintendent's performance. No action was taken.
The next board meeting will be on Feb. 16.