Monett hears plan to revise bus routes

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Additional help needed for non-English speaking students

Monett School board members heard about a number of issues facing the district recently, including transportation routes and efforts being made to shorten longer bus rides for students, expanding the maintenance facilities and Chromebook use.

“We are trying to shorten the longer routes,” said Steve Garner, operations manager. “We got software to analyze the routes and improve student transportation times.”

Another issue under discussion was dinner meals sent home with students. Last year, only student participating in athletics or after school programs were eligible for the meals. This year, every student takes a meal home at the end of the school day.

“They are not allowed to eat on the bus,” Garner said. “It’s because of trash issues. We may have to consider allowing students to eat before they arrive home.”

Garner also discussed the option of expanding the maintenance facility to keep all supplies centrally located instead of storing them at various locations throughout the district, as practiced now.

“We would like to get some overhead storage racks to maximize space and allow the forklift to do the moving and lifting,” he said. “We would also like to get our district vehicles under cover to help protect them.”

Garner said is would be ideal to have a loading dock.

“It is time consuming to track down everything we need,” he said. “One central location for the distribution of materials would be best. Whether we build it, purchase it or relocate it, if we do it, we need to do it right.”

Garner said Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief 3 (ESSER 3) funds could be utilized for the project.

“We are supposed to get $5.9 million by January,” Garner said.

This is the first year that middle school students have been assigned Chromebooks as learning devices. Staff has learned to use GoGuardian to keep students work-focused both on and off campus rather than engaging in online games.

Teachers have outlined priority standards for the semester and year, creating a pacing guide to time lessons in preparation for end of year assessments. This will allow educators to meet certain instructional benchmarks before students are tested on the materials.

School board members once again adopted the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan for the month. The plan has to be evaluated and re-approved every month.

The board approved amending the plan to focus only on district campus numbers and elevated the positivity rate to 10 percent per building instead of eight percent.

“That would mean quarantine 20 per (single) positive at the middle and high school levels,” Superintendent Mark Drake said. “With elementary cohort classes, it would have to be a pretty big outbreak for them to have to go into masking.”

“I like the numbers we are seeing,” said A.J. Bahl, board member. “Something has been in our favor. We like to see the kids in school and out of masks.”

Drake said the iWave air purifiers, installed on each heating and air conditioning unit (HVAC) in the district, has been working well on campuses. According to lab testing, the iWave air purifier inactivates 99.4 percent of the COVID-19 virus.

The district currently has 15 non-English-speaking high school students, according to Daphne Hensley, English language learner (ELL) coordinator.

“We are definitely increasing out diversity,” she said. “We have 630 ELL students in kindergarten through 12th grade. 560 have regular services. When a student enrolls and fills out their homeland language, they are screened to see what level they are at. We have a growing number of Guatemalan students; 12 that speak three different languages and their dialects are quite different. We have 15 students from Mexico. It’s a first for Monett to have that many high school students, and some of the highest levels that have achieved is fourth grade. These students had limited or interrupted education.”

Hensley said the district was blessed to have staff that spoke some of the languages.

“As of today, we have 20 different languages in the district,” she said. “We need additional staff. Our goal is to have high academic achievements. If we don’t do this, it will impact our district. I’m looking for one English Language Development (ELD) teacher and a para with training would be great.”

A bid for trash service from Stanphill Sanitation in Pierce City, was accepted in the amount of $3,075 per month for all campuses. The price is guaranteed for three years.

New hires at the district include Patricia Baidon, MIS special education paraprofessional; Traisha Eggleston, MIS/MMS food service; Aniya Pack. CPE food service; Jose Prieto custodian; Lori Raley, Scott Regional Technology Center nurse; and Veronica Valequez, CPE food service.

Resignations were received from Lauren Gunter, MIS special education paraprofessional; and Kim Robison, daycare director.

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