The Purdy R-2 Board of Education discussed the opening of school and routine changes at the August board meeting.
Superintendent Dr. Steven Chancellor reported the first day of classes came off "without a hitch." Only one child who had ridden the buses before got on the wrong bus at the end of the day.
Moving the opening of the afternoon pre-school to 15 minutes earlier prevents any competition for space with buses. Elementary principal Jeff Swadley said directing buses to park as far north as the high school entrance provided more room and made the entire boarding and unloading process work smoothly.
Swadley said holding the open house on Aug. 14, before classes began for the first time, enabled parents to bring in supplies early and settle into the idea of leaving children at school for the first time. Instead of spending 30 minutes consoling parents on the first day, Swadley only had one teary father to reassure.
Board members liked the idea that photos were taken of each kindergarten child with Chancellor and Swadley to take home. Middle school principal Janet Boys said with the orientation session she offered on Aug. 9 for incoming fifth graders, she did not need to have an additional open house.
A few changes were discussed in the handbooks. The transportation handbook reported there were six bus routes. The number was reduced last year after the handbook was printed. The elementary handbook referred to the School Message program used to provide mass notifications of school cancellations due to weather.
Policies on cell phone use were updated. Middle school and high school students are allowed to have cell phones, but not to use them. Most problems arise from students forgetting they have the phones or to turn them off. Boys said she may give students special permission to use a phone in the office as the only exception.
The high school handbook offered more descriptive consequences for use of cell phones, said principal Bob Vice. After-school detention or Saturday school would be ordered after multiple offenses.
Board members asked about students getting on the Internet or using iPads to access their Facebook accounts. Vice said Facebook is "getting old" for high school students. Boys said supervising iPads is up to individual teachers, though one banned Kindles altogether as too hard to monitor.
Board members asked about continuation of the back pack food program for elementary children for a third year. Swadley said the effort still hopes to serve 40 children, but it was not yet clear what funding participating churches would have. Applications were being reviewed for every participant.
The board approved a new job description for the A+ coordinator, which previously had been a daily duty job and was now an extra duty position. Chancellor said the description now has specific expectations. He also brought descriptions for the board's treasurer and the secretary/bookkeeper, which better defined their duties as refined by the new superintendent.
In closed session, board members approved Dixie Henry as the A+ coordinator, which will pay $3,000.
In other personnel action, the board approved the resignation of Shelly Johnson as a Title I aide for the preschool, a position she held for 10 years. The list of 23 substitute teachers was approved for the opening of school. Chancellor said each substitute from last year had been personally contacted. Added to the old list were Leonard McGee and Dawn Dixon.
Board members approved the tax levy for the coming property tax cycle at $3.44 per $100 of assessed property. Assessments of property in the school district on balance remained almost unchanged, though personal property values dropped $202,553 and real estate values increased $356,726.
The property tax would generate $869,898 for the district if all taxes were paid, an increase of $5,008 over last year.
New tutorial software
Vice gave board members a demonstration of the Plato software acquired from Curtis Software as an additional tutorial for at-risk students. The Plato program follows the basic curriculum in core study areas, but provides its own examples and exercises.
The district has five "seats" for students to use the program, available even at night. Vice said teachers can show the tutorials in class or students can work on them in private. He was enthusiastic about what the software could do to help students who have trouble grasping specific concepts in typical classroom settings.
Chancellor presented a new accounting report. New board secretary Anna Marie Erwin said the information comes directly from the expenditure report and has no interpretations in it. Detailed reports on any area are still available. Board members found the summary easy to read and a good snapshot of district finances.
In upcoming events, Grandparents' Day at Purdy Elementary will be held on the morning of Friday, Sept. 14. The high school baseball team will host its tournament on Sept. 13.
The next board meeting will be held on Sept. 17.