With just one month to go before the start of a new school year, the Van-Far R-I School Board must now take on the task of finding a new music/band director after Lisa Dobbs submitted her resignation for approval during the monthly meeting held on Thursday, July 18.
In a lengthy letter to the board, Dobbs said her resignation was for her safety along with her physical and mental wellbeing.
Dobbs, who completed her first year after taking over for the departing Eric Eckhoff, noted in her letter that she had a 100 mile commute each day. In the past year, she totaled a car when avoiding to hit a dog and had to visit the chiropractor three times a week for the rest of the year.
With one car, her husband was enduring hardships of walking home in bad weather from college.
She also said she was purchasing a full tank of gas every two days and getting an oil change every six weeks.
In the Spring, a deer ran into the side of her car.
“The lengthy commute, driving in hazardous conditions, and these hardships have meant that my family and friends are worrying and praying about my safety every day,” Dobbs said in her letter.
While she expressed her thankfulness to the district for their support, Van-Far is now left with the task of finding her replacement so late in the summer.
The board officially voted to authorize the administration to advertise for an anticipate opening for the music/band position.
Van-Far Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter told board members that the policy allows for teachers to be released from their contracts when a suitable replacement is found. There are no contract penalties for non-tenured positions.
Van-Far Principal Cindy Pirch said she doesn’t expect interviewing to begin until August 1. Board member Mark Udelhoven suggested a special board meeting should be scheduled as soon as a replacement is found.
Discussion was led by Dr. Hunter in regards to the district possibly hiring a School Resource Officer.
Factors he’s considering before moving forward include the interest of neighboring Community R-VI in regards to a shared resource officer.
He also noted that the Audrain Sheriff’s Department might be eligible for a COPS Grant, which would fund a resource officer for three years. It is currently too late for the department to apply for a grant for the upcoming school year.
He said in both Bowling Green and Troy, where he worked previously, that they have SRO’s.
“There’s a value to it,” he said.
He noted the SRO provides a sense of safety on a daily basis. He also said the SRO provides great value in the building. They could implement a DARE program at the elementary school, add security, and be a liaison between the district and the juvenile department.
Board member Mark Udelhoven noted a concern that after three years the district would be obligated to a new salary created as some of the board members might not be serving at that time.
“If you can get a really good one, it’s a difference maker,” Dr. Hunter added. “The good ones have the ability to engage people…”
Board President Christy Nelson expressed her hopes to see the DARE program back in the district.
Dr. Hunter will bring his suggestion on the matter to the board in the August meeting.
Dr. Hunter informed the board of maintenance projects underway in the district. Resurfacing in the entry way floor in the south hall is taking place in the high school. There is also foam insulation to be place into the locker rooms.
Elementary projects include replacing chalkboards with whiteboards. Some areas of carpet are also being replaced with tile.
A Tax Rate Hearing has been scheduled for 6:45 p.m. August 15, just before the regularly scheduled board meeting.
A School Discipline Report for the district was presented for the 2011-2012 and the 2012-2013 school years.
The report shows a number of in school and out of school suspensions but was not as lengthy as Dr. Hunter said he’s used to seeing when a part of past districts he’s been a part of.
“For what I saw, it looked pretty good I thought,” he added.
The district received a breakdown of allocations regarding federal programs at Van-Far. For Title I, the district is projected to receive $175,765. Title II is expected to get $30,388 and the Title VI (Small Rural Schools) is to receive $26,401.
In regards to district attendance, it was noted that the annual attendance rate went down from 567 to 555 over the past two years.
Reports of Members
Board member Mark Udelhoven expressed his hope of changing the current process for student of the month recognition.
He said he thought it was “stagnant” and he doesn’t approve of getting elementary children out on winter nights to come to board meetings for just a few minutes.
He noted how a Wisconsin newspaper does a half page section in regards to students of the week and thought that might be a better option.
Board President Christy Nelson said she would like to see it tied into the Character Plus program.
Dr. Hunter said he would meet with both school principals to discuss ideas.
Another topic discussed was related to consequences for coaches, for example, if involved in drug or alcohol arrests. Udelhoven cited a recent case in the Hallsville district.
Principal Cindy Pirch said she had visited with MSBA attorneys on the matter.
It was expressed to her that the attorney wasn’t in favor of extra duty contracts.
The administration and board members will examine policy in the near future to be prepared for any similar situation if it would occur in the Van-Far R-I School District.
All board members are registered for the MSBA Fall Conference held this fall. The deadline for cancelation is September 6 with a lodging cancelation deadline of September 18.
The MSBA recommended putting a hold on approving the 2013A Policy Updates, which were to align current policies with the new health care reform act. The federal government has put some mandates for the new law on hold for one year. Meanwhile, the MSBA will keep districts informed as to when the policies should be approved.
A second reading was approved for the reading of policies GCBDA/GDBDA “Short Term Leaves” and GBBDAA “Sick Leave Pool.”
The AEL Contract with DESE was approved.
The board approved WEMET grant expenditures as the WEMET submitted a grant allowing member districts to receive technology equipment at a 65/35 match.
Van-Far requested equipment of $4,458 with the district’s share of the cost being $1,506. Equipment will be used to implement the ITV dual credit classes and also allow teachers to take classes.
The 2012-2013 Lunch Report and Evaluation was approved. It showed expenditures decreasing from $76,596.44 to $63,831.82, showing that numbers are heading in the right direction.
It shows that revenues are up and expenses are down, which could be due to enrollment and/or student participation.