Monett R-1 board members approved the school calendar for the 2013-14 year after extended talks with the staff.
Superintendent Brad Hanson said the coming year offered challenges with Christmas and New Year's Day falling on a Wednesday. A normal schedule suggested an extended Christmas break but that could extend classes nearly to Memorial Day if year-end snow days were all used.
Teachers overwhelmingly voted for one option, which was presented to the board.
Under the plan, classes will begin on a Tuesday, Aug. 13, instead of a Wednesday. Parent-teacher conferences will be held a week later than usual to avoid having grades due and meetings with families at the same time.
Teachers will return from the Christmas break on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, for professional development, but students will not return until the following Monday, giving them two full weeks and three weekends for a holiday break. Four-day weekends were set in February, March and April, spaced evenly apart.
Classes will end on May 21 without snow days. Hanson said the district would have to use all seven snow days before considering having school after Memorial Day.
Elementary principals Susie Gasser and Annette Cozort briefed the board on efforts to revise the math curriculum for lower grades. In working with Assistant Superintendent Mike Dawson, the principals reviewed a variety of curriculums in use.
The principals selected the Envision Math curriculum from the Pearson company, the same firm that provided the reading series for kindergarten through sixth grade.
"Envision will help us to be better aligned to the common core," Hanson said, "and be better aligned together at the grade level on math instruction."
Teachers will begin training on Envision in the spring and will use some pilot units. Full use of the curriculum will begin in August.
David Miller, assistant high school principal, provided an overview of the A+ program. As a way to promote student achievement at a high level, A+ continues to offer post-graduation benefits from maintaining high grades, good citizenship and community service in tutoring. The Class of 2015 will be expected to score in the proficient or advanced level in algebra I on the end-of-course exams.
Miller found A+ students benefit from their tutoring experience and have collaborated with the Link Crew in helping incoming freshmen. As an area needing improvement, Miller recommended finding more tutoring opportunities. He also wanted to increase the percentage of students participating in A+, which would raise the number of graduating seniors eligible for A+ benefits. The number of students to date who have signed an A+ agreement represents a 9 percent drop in participation as enrollment increases.
Jerry Swadley, technology coordinator for the district, updated the board on additions in technology over the past year. His goals include having students technology literate by the eighth grade and raising the proficiency levels of teachers using technology.
The "1:World" laptop program for high school students and the addition of iPads at other campuses increased the number of computers available to students. Teachers also increased their comfort levels in using technology in the classroom.
Miller recommended establishing a replacement cycle for the computers and the bandwidth for Internet access to make sure useage did not surpass available resources.
Hanson reported the house at Ninth and Scott had been removed since the November meeting. The construction technology class ,that had been moved to Third and Birch streets, was nearly ready to put on the market.
Board members awarded the contract for audit services to the low bidder, The CPA Group, after reviewing four bids.
"The CPA Group is very familiar with the district," Hanson said. "The board is very comfortable with them."
The audit will cover the fiscal year ending on June 30. The contract covers services for three years.
The R-1 school board will next meet on Jan. 24.