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Three file for Van-Var School Board

Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2024 at 7:40 pm

By Rennie Davis

VANDALIA—Three people have filed for the two positions on the school board—Ryan Schuckenbrock and incumbents Pete Nasir and Tony Dameron.

Fortney said the school district’s audit was good with no surprises.

The district had awarded a request for proposal to an individual for an athletic/storage building to be erected on the north end of the track.

The process was not great, and the district felt as though it was not going to get what it was expecting. The district could not come up with any kind of resolution and filed a complaint with the Audrain County Sheriff’s Office and the district’s insurance carrier.

The district was able to recover all the money spent with the individual, less the $1,000 deductible with the insurance company.

Fortney said that currently the individual is in custody on a different set of charges.

A small number of attendee’s were at the regular meeting of the Van-Far R-1 School Board meeting Thursday, Dec. 21 at the Van-Far high School library.

Board President Justin Hopke called the meeting to order with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer by Dustin Holt. Roll call of the board was read and Jessica Reading, Pete Nasir and Mike Smith were absent.  Dustin Holt was appointed as substitute secretary.

It was moved and seconded to adopt the agenda, approve minutes of the Nov. 16 and 29, financial statement and authorization to pay the bills and renew MUSIC 2024 assessment and umbrella coverage.  Motion carried.

There was no Staff/Patron/VFTA input.

High School Principal Natalie Gibson said that there was no student recognition for this month.

The high school offers an extended academic period twice a week until 4:45 p.m. for students who need academic support.

School transportation ensures that students can also have transportation to academic support on Monday’s from 8 to 10 a.m.

Students can also get academic help on Saturday’s, thanks to teachers who volunteer to help. She said students are randomly selected for drug testing per board policy, which allows students to be active in VO-Tech and other programs.

The Winter Music Program was well attended and a success, thanks to Mr. Moore and his students for their of hard work.

The FFA chapter sponsored a family by purchasing Christmas gifts for them. The girls Varsity Basketball team adopted a local family and went shopping to meet their Christmas needs.

The Junior High Tribal Code Trip was on Jan. 5 at Main Event. Seventeen students earned the trip for good attendance, no tardies, excellent behavior, good grades and iReady lessons.

The administrative team met on Dec. 12 and processed the district’s Annual Performance Report. School will resumed on Jan. 2 with a full day of Professional Development for teachers. Students return Jan. 3.

Elementary School Principal Brian Hummel was absent, but provided a detailed written report of the school.

The enrollment at the elementary school is 326. The attendance contest for the grade school for November was won by Mrs. Rost’s class with 14 out of 16 days with perfect attendance. Other highlights for the month were elementary movie day at the Mexico Cinema, Christmas caroling in the library the week before break, elementary all school meal with the First Baptist Church providing a hot chocolate bar and cookies.

The kindergarten class sang Christmas carols at the nursing home. He also noted in his report that Christmas from a Small Town Heart was a huge success.

The November staff members of the month were Caroline James and Bobbi Craven. The November artist of the month is Monroe Griggsby.

Amy Newland, dean of students, reported that home visits were being accomplished, Ryan Morris, with maintenance, stated that gravel has been spread at the elementary school, and lead testing on the school water is being scheduled.

Brandon Barnett, transportation director, stated that the new school bus should be delivered sometime this month. It was also noted the VO-AG department is looking to buy a new plasma table and six new Miller welders.

Mr. Fortney stated that attendance was up at the high school and was actually better than the grade school.

The elementary checked in at 94.4% and the high school with 94.9%.  Fortney said two positions were up for election to the school board.  The terms of Pete Nasir and Tony Dameron have expired.

Sheriff Matt Oller informed the district that the complaint had been turned over to the Audrain County prosecuting attorney for additional charges and the the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office might be getting involved at a later date.

He noted that the district would have to decide if it wants to pursue legal action against the individual to recover the insurance deductible.

A question was raised about where the gate funds were deposited for athletic events.

Fortney said at least two people were tasked with responsibility of depositing the money in the General Athletics Fund.

The date for graduation was discussed and since it has tentatively been set for May 19, 2024, it was set aside for later discussion.

Fortney then addressed the Annual Performance Report.

He said that Van-Far earned 77.2 points for performance out of 130 possible.

This is 59.3% of points earned as compared to 52.3% in 2022.

Under improvement, the district earned 51 out of a possible 52. This was 98% of possible points earned as compared to 88.5% in 2022. He said he was pleased in the improvement but the district still needs to work on the Performance aspect.

In other business, exempt and nonexempt employees, professional and staff short-term leaves and support staff leaves were given as information only.

A part time position to be contracted directly with the Arthur Center and liquidation of a surplus skid steer loader were also set aside.

In executive session, the board voted to hire Christine Poor for Family and Consumer Science, Courtney Cartee as Para and Colin Wilburn as a substitute teacher.