School Board discusses spending policy
Van-Far School Board President Christy Nelson, left, presents the golden bell to Crystal Sparks.
Concerns of board policies not being followed were charged to Van-Far R-I Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter by a couple of board members at the beginning of the district’s board meeting last Thursday evening.
The consent agenda was approved with the exceptions of one check for $8,473.20 to Brick City Painting/Drywall and a check for $14,735 made to Don Martin Construction for work on lots at both schools and the bus loop.
“This should have been brought before the board,” said board member Larry Wheeler.
Board member Kevin Motley read the policy multiple times during the discussion, stating that any purchase of $3,000 or more needs to be bid. It was also noted the expenditures of $15,000 or more requires sealed bids unless it was needed for an emergency, which Motley said the projects didn’t fit the emergency criteria.
“We take pride in communication and I should have communicated better…,” Dr. Hunter said.
“That better not happen again,” Wheeler said with a follow-up response.
Wheeler asked to be notified of large expenditures.
Board member Dr. Greg Frost commented that he didn’t feel it was necessary for the superintendent to call the board on these expenditures. He said it becomes micro-managing.
Motley once again read the policy.
Board member Pete Nasir said the board is senstive to these types of expenditures due to a prevailing wage issue the board dealt with several years ago.
Motley said the expenditures were not in the approved budget. Dr. Frost said that the expense didn’t have to be a line item.
Meanwhile, Nasir made a motion to have the superintendent notify the board of any non-line item expenditure of more than $7,500. His motion died for a lack of a second.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter did ask the board for guidance on how they want expenses of this nature handled. The board did not change their policy.
With competitive bids needing to be taken for projects costing more than $3,000, Ryan Morris did show board members the additional bids on the asphalt work.
It was noted at the end of the discussion that the policy was followed but some of the members didn’t know that (when it came to the bid process.)
Board President Christy Nelson presented retiring board secretary Crystal Sparks with a bell for 24 years of exemplary service to the board and the district.
Lisa Newland was recently hired to be her successor.
Tax Levy Approved
Before the Van-Far R-I School Board meeting started, the district held a public hearing to discuss a tax levy for 2014-15.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter recommended a total tax levy of $4.00. He also proposed an operating levy of 3.3984 and the debt service levy of .6099.
All seven board members approved the recommendation.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter reported on the progress of various projects and items taken care of on recent work days.
The list of projects includes cork being installed in cafeteria windows to display student artwork; painting the exterior of the weight room; mulch at the elementary entrance; and fence toppers at the softball field.
He also noted that the press box would be ready for use at the ball game on Friday night.
Elementary Principal Brian Hummel said the open house went well with approximately 90% participation. He also said that the staff greatly appreciated school supplies being donated by several local organizations.
Van-Far Jr./Sr. High School Principal Cindy Pirch noted the new staff members in the building. Those include Don Aulbert (PLATO, American History, Character Education, and Personal Finance), Stephanie Fischer (Vocational Agriculture), Jeff Scrogin (SRO), Lisa Newland (Bookkeeper/Board Secretary), and Danelle Aulbur (Food Service Director).
Principal Pirch noted an open house was held. She also noted that there was 86% participation for students attending three drug testing sessions for participation in extracurricular activities.
It was also noted that there will be Tdap and Meningities shots availble by the ACHD on Thursday, August 28 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. for students ages 11-18. The cost is $15 for both shots and no cost if student has medicaid coverage. Enrollment was 243, which is what the district ended with last school year.
ACT testing is scheduled for 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdsay, September 13.
Principal Pirch presented FCCLA Advisor Teresa Klott, who introduced chapter officers Abbegail Robinson and Abbigail Kuda. The two students reported on recent events and conference they had participated in.
Melissa Deimeke noted in her report that the Special Education Department received $7,561 from the Ed French Foundation to purchase a smart board for Lisa Wise’s room, more Ipads, more Ipad cases, and para educator materials to train the district’s paras in areas they may be weak in.
In Executive Session, board members voted to hire Gary Fowler as a bus driver, hired Donald Aulbert as a baseball assistant coach, and hired both Esther Robinson and Aulbert as co-sponsors for STUCO.
November Ballot Issue
Nelson passed out copies of information for a proposed ballot issue in the upcoming November election. She said that the public and teachers need to be educated about the effect this issue could have on the district’s students.
The measure applies to all certified staff members, including administrators and the superintendent. It defines a certified employee as an employee who holds a valid certificate to teach in the state of Missouri. It would make all certified staff at will employees (without employee contracts) unless a district chooses to enter into a contract with a staff member.
Among other things, the ballot issue would prohibit “the design of implementation of the evaluation system from being the bujust of collective bargaining.”
The MSBA Fall Conference will be on October 23 in Warrenton.
It was noted that School Resource Officer (SRO) Jeff Scrogin is doing a good job. He is splitting time between both the Van-Far R-I and Community R-VI School Districts.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter reported that the audit went well.
After receiving bids from both the Abel’s Oil Co. and MFA Oil, the district accepted the fuel, oil, and antifreeze bids from MFA Oil.
A procedure update for Policy KG-AP (Community Usage of District Facilities) was approved.
There was approval of a first reading of policy updates BBFA. Due to Senate Bill 719, the MSBA had recommended for the district to approve the policy to replace a local “Code of Ethics.” The measure will need to be approved in the September meeting due to the Ethics Commission deadline of September 25.
A drug testing contract with AMC/SSM was approved for bus drivers.
In reports of members, Nasir suggested for board members to contact Superintendent Dr. Hunter in advance if they have questions regarding the bills.
Nation noted that the flags in front of the high school and the new website are good additions to the district. She asked Elementary Principal Hummel about elementary class size and was informed that the largest classes have 25 students.
She also asked both principals about feedback on the early dismissal the first day of school. They said there were only positive comments.