The Van-Far R-I School Board members opened their December 18 meeting and handled all the preliminary meeting item according to the agenda.
The Van-Far school district discussed the possibility of getting two illuminated school signs on Highway 54 for traffic coming both ways during their Van-Far R-I School Board meeting on December 18.
The signs would be solar powered and could also be controlled via computer software that would be installed in the school offices. The school has reached a working agreement with MoDOT, has signed the forms, and are just waiting to be processed in Jefferson City. MoDOT has given the board permission to contact Brown Traffic Products of Davenport, Iowa to begin the process. The cost of the two signs will cost the district $960.
The price includes two metal, solar powered signs, and software to control the flashers. Flashers are programmable to operate on a regular daily basis and at special events.
Both the City of Vandalia and MoDOT have offered to help with installation of the signs.
One of the initial items up for discussion was concerning the Missouri United School Insurance Council (MUSIC) Umbrella policy and the MUSIC assessment renewal.
As a Missouri public entity, Van-Far is afforded protection from litigation under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. There are two exceptions, though, and they are claims arising from automobile accidents and from dangerous conditions on the premises. Currently, the Umbrella Liability limit for the district is $2,750,000. The board agreed that the current amount is too low and should be raised. The plan is up for renewal and the board is looking to increase the policy by an additional $2 million dollars.
The guidance counseling self-evaluation item on the agenda, was a part of the district’s annual assessment to ensure the schools are meeting state and local guidelines. Following the evaluation, it was determined that the district’s Guidance Counseling program meets expectations across the board.
In the staff/patron input portion of the meeting, Ms. Jackie Waller gave an update for VFTA. Waller reported that while the VFTA meeting was postponed due to inclement weather on December 13, the carnival committee has been working hard preparing for the carnival scheduled on April 11, 2014. The committee has collaborated with Mr. Basinger’s Business Technology class and has collected over 30 items for a silent auction. The committee will have a meeting in January to further discuss plans and sponsorships.
Cheer coach Esther Robinson and the Junior High Cheerleaders made a presentation regarding the 2013 events they attended and community service opportunities they were afforded. All of which were made possible by the school board, staff, and faculty.
“This is my largest squad I had so far since I been here, so we are 14 and proud. Thank you for listening to us,” Robinson said.
Within the Superintendent’s reports, Dr. Stephen Hunter indicated that the districts enrollment is at 619, 242 elementary students and 377 secondary students.
The District report card comes from the Missouri Department of Education and Secondary Education (DESE). Dr. Hunter indicated that the school district’s data on the DESE website goes back four years. He encouraged anyone that would like to check it out to visit www.dese.mo.gov.
“Our graduation rate is perfect and has been for many years. No drop outs at all and that is a great thing. For ACT scores, we have ranged from 19.8 to is 22.2 over the last couple years, and the state’s average 21.6. So that is something we want as high as we can, but our ACT scores are pretty good,” Hunter said. “Class sizes are low, which is fabulous and our attendance is very good. New DESE standards require that you have 90% of your kids at school 90% of the time. So you have to look at kids that are chronic absentees and try to get them above that 90% mark, and then limit the number of chronic absences. We’re okay on that but we are keeping an eye on that on a weekly basis. We have good scores and a very good district. So I am very pleased with that and proud of the things we are doing.”
Board candidate filing opened up on Tuesday, December 17 and will run through January 21 at 5 p.m. There are three openings and Larry Wheeler, Kimber Nation, and Hopke are the ones that have signed up so far.
Elementary Principal Amber Crane indicated that one of the things they have been focusing on is the writing curriculum. They are trying to get it where it needs to be in regards to the common core standards. The second area of focus is “School-wide Positive Behavior Support.”
“Our school-wide goal is the use of specific positive feedback to encourage expected behaviors at a high rate (4:1) in all settings. When we established our goal, our status of specific feedback was 0.67:1. We discussed this as a faculty, created a plan, and began implementation of the plan. Observations were conducted again two weeks ago, and the building has improved to 3:1 in all settings,” Crane said.
School will be dismissed for Christmas break on December 20 and will resume on January 6.
Van-Far Junior/Senior High Principal Cindy Pirch indicated that on January 6, the Character+ team is hosting a week of events. There will be ASVAB, PLAN, and EXPLORE testing, along with the 8th graders going to VoTech to develop four-year plans and tour the facility.
Tournaments will be taking place every day along with presentations on notetaking, Highly Effective Teens, organizational skills, mock interviewing, alumni panel discussion and more. There will also be an assembly with Ms. Missouri as the guest speaker on January 9.
“The community and the school has done a outstanding job of brining about “Blessings in a Bag” and a lot of food for the food pantry. It’s hard to imagine when things are tough, that’s when tough gets going. You really see that in this community with the giving that has taken place.,” Pirch said. “This has really touched me and I don’t get too emotional very often. But it has moved me tremendously to see the amount of giving that has taken place around here this past month. It is just awesome.”
Possible dates and further discussion on summer school will be upcoming as funding comes available.
The third reading of GCPCA/GDPCA staff retirement incentives, along with the third reading of MSBA 2013 policy updates and hazard mitigation partnership was approved unanimously by the board.
The hazard mitigation partnership is part of a five year plan and enables the district to apply for FEMA funding in the future if the need should arise. It was noted that an area school district built a new gymnasium with FEMA funding. The plan document is in the process of being updated by Nancy Talley, of Palmyra.
Dr. Hunter also noted the district will host summer school depending on DESE funding.
The AEL/Department of Corrections contract amendment for expectations of employees while working at the correctional facility was approved.
In reports of members, a thank you note was read from the Dr. K.D. Swan family. Hopke noted the compliments he had received regarding elementary and Jr./Sr. High School progams. Dr. Hunter echoed Hopke’s remarks.
Security bids with Schmidt Communications for security locks, cameras, monitors, etc. was approved. The school board meeting adjourned at 7:37 p.m.