Like many other area school boards, the Van-Far R-I School District unanimously approved a resolution to show support for Dr. Margie Vandeven, Commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter noted the bottom line for the board at the state level is it’s meant to be an independent board so politics do not infiltrate policies.
“For the governor to have board members come on board that don’t know DESE or MSIP 6…and to also say we’re going to get rid of this woman, who you don’t know her, you don’t know what she is about…She’s also in a position and she’s also very good at it…But to pull that position in that way is detrimental for the state of Missouri for a lot of reasons…”
He also noted changes can affect fragile districts like Van-Far in a big way.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter said many of the board members are brand new on the state level.
It was noted that the commissioner needs to be able to do their job and not be a “puppet.”
The board unanimously voted to support the resolution.
Board member Pete Nasir discussed “The Vandalia Leader” regarding some coverage of recent events regarding the Missouri State Board of Education. He was thankful for what was published. More could have also been done with the information presented.
The Van-Far State Championship cheerleading squad was present and introduced by Van-Far Jr./Sr. High School Principal Kim Pafford.
Coaches Lisa Otis and Angela Carlyle gave the board a rundown of the hard work put in by the cheerleaders starting with regionals and all the way through winning a state title.
Otis thanked the school board and was thankful for the support of Superintendent Dr. Hunter and Principal Pafford.
Each cheerleader in-troduced themselves to the board.
Mr. Steudel, the FFA Advisor, along with FFA members Cody James and Will Hopke, talked about the FFA National Convention they recently attended in Indianapolis, Ind.
Principal Pafford also recognized Trevor Winders, who was recently selected for the Northwest Region All-District Band. Winders was placed as Second Chair on Bari Sax and will move on to All-State auditions in Columbia on December 2.
She also talked about football players who earned all-conference honors.
It was also noted that Gina Clausen and Colten Jensen were the local Wendy’s Heisman award winners for the district.
Audit and Refunding
Jeff Chitwood, a partner of Gerding, Korte and Chitwood, presented an overview of the district’s 2017 Audit Report to the board members.
He said the district had a clean audit and an unmodified opinion.
He also reported that fund balances increased 16% to 21% and are in the recommended range. Chitwood discussed information provided in the Audit Report.
The board later approved the audit as presented.
Brad Wegeman and Drew Gress, from L.J. Hart & Co., presented a Preliminary Financial Analysis with bond refinancing options for the Series 2015 Bonds.
Discussion did follow regarding the options and the anticipated timeline.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter reported enrollment of 576 total students with 269 in the Jr./Sr. High School and 307 in the Elementary School. Pre-K enrollment is 19.
The aging bus fleet was discussed as it was suggested the board look into bus purchase options for 2018-19.
The final 5-year lease payment was made in the 2017-18 budget. Discussion followed and more information will be obtained.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter noted that a payment has been made for the past five years. Any decision to purchase a bus would just continue to make a payment that has already been budgeted.
Five buses are 2013, two are 2008, two 2006, one 2005, one 2002, and some older.
There are a total of 16 buses with 11 on routes daily.
Transportation Director Charlie Stroker said there is also a handicapped bus, which is a 1999.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter said the signs are called “accomplishment plaques” that could be placed at the city limits to recognize three state championships.
He said the district would have to enter a contract with MoDOT for 10 years at $500+ per sign. After 10 years, the signs can be replaced or the district can decide to take them down.
So each location would be $1,560 and would go below the city limit signs. The cost would be $6,240 for four signs.
Some discussion included putting a sign entering Farber on one side of Highway 54 and on the other side of Vandalia.
Board member Wheeler suggested just two signs to be purchased.
Board member Dr. Greg Frost also discussed the possibility of adding a marquis.
The 2016-17 APR Review was presented as it became available on November 15. Building level scores are not available as of yet. The APR score remained the same as last year and results excluded Algebra I and English II scores.
The first reading of MSBA 2017C Policy Updates was held and the information was discussed.
It was noted that Lathyn McMorris was an all-state cross country runner.
Van-Far Elementary Principal Brian Hummel’s report included dates for the upcoming Christmas programs.
The 3rd-4th grades will be at 7 p.m. December 7; 5th-6th grades will be at 7 p.m. on December 14; and Kindergarten-2nd grades will have a program in the Spring.
The board approved the consent agenda. This included minutes from the October 19 meeting, approving the financial statement and authorization to pay bills, self-evaluations, federal programs/school-wide title programs, special education, technology, as well as music renewal assessment, music umbrella coverage and cyber coverage renewals.
Filing dates for the school board race are 8 a.m. December 12, 2017-January 16, 2018 at 5 p.m., during regular business hours, excluding days the business office is closed.
The December board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, December 18.
Approval of the Full-Maintenance Service Agreement with MSBA.
(After our press deadline, the Missouri Board of Education voted 4-4 in a measure to remove Commissioner Dr. Margie Vandeven. The split vote keeps Vandeven as the head of the agency.
“I look forward to the focus returning to educating our children,” she said in a DESE press release.)