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Van-Far staff pack school board meeting

Posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 10:41 pm

Van-Far School Board members Jim Hopke, left, and Kevin Motley, right, look on as more than 50 Van-Far staff members stand in solidarity during the monthly meeting held last Thursday.

Editor’s Note: Due to a family health emergency, the following story mostly comes from meeting minutes.
Several staff members and the VFTA shared their concerns on the issues of a possible insurance cap and the effect it has on salaries during last Thursday’s Van-Far School Board meeting.
Those who shared their concerns include Courtney Blattel, Kelly Hopke, Luann Nilges, Juli Hackethal, Denise Allen, and patron Annie Wallace.
“At the end of the day, if you hurt the teachers, you are hurting my children,” Wallace said.
The cafeteria, where the meeting was held, was filled with approximately 55 staff members.
Van-Far Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter expressed his appreciation for the input received on the health insurance topic.
He did provide updates on possible health insurance vendors and suggested holding up on decisions as he expects more information soon.
He said due to some unfortunate health situations, the district does not look “healthy” to potential insurers right now.
Board member Kevin Motley suggested a special meeting to be held, if necessary, to get the information out as soon as possible.
The board voted later to table a motion on 2017-2018 health insurance for getting more information from potential vendors.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter also commented on a workshop he had recently attended regarding state and federal funding. He reported he is starting to build next year’s budget. State and federal funding was discussed.
It was proposed to place a $.48 increase on the August ballot for the 2017-18 school year. Deadline to do this is May 30.
If passed in August, the measure would directly help next year’s budget.
A motion was withdrawn, but due to concerns on following board meeting guidelines, the motion was shot down to approve the measure this month. Concerns were expressed that it was important for more information on cuts to be gathered and made public before voting on the measure. The increase could results in the district gaining $207,000 of needed revenue.
According to the meeting minutes, board member Larry Wheeler, at the beginning of the meting, asked about the four-day week and it was noted that it was not on the agenda. It was mentioned that the board approved the 2017-2018 calendar during a previous meeting.
Adding Cross
The board made a motion to add cross country with a coaching stipend for the 2017-18 season before noting they were voting on an item not listed on the agenda as an action item.
So the board turned down the measure 6-0 though a couple of board a coach stipend, $800 in meet fees, and $400-$500 in driver costs. If they host just one race on a course at the school, that race would pay for the meet fees for the entire season. Coach Kris Cross said she would be willing to forgo the stipend to help get the team started as she was passionate about the runners getting a chance to represent their school.
Athletes would use track uniforms.
It was noted that the sport is inexpensive to run and many athletes will gain a lot in participating in it.
Executive Session
During Executive Session, the school board unanimously approved the hiring of several non-tenured Van-Far Elementary School and Van-Far Jr./Sr. High School teachers. They also hired Deborah Robinson-Dunn as the new Adult Education and Literacy Program and Larry Thomas for lawn maintenance.
Enrollment is at 565 students with 272 in the Jr./Sr. High School and 293 in the Elementary School. A facilities update noted Crawford Construction installing insulation along with glass and door bumpers.
Ryan Morris has been installing LED lights. He reported that the district received insurance compensation to repair damage to an exterior wall and window.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter reported the district has purchased four purchase cards (p-cards), with a $5,000 limit for all cards combined.
The bid for audit services item on the agenda was tabled so the board could further examine the three responses for audit services.
The MSBA Regional Spring Meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 26 in Warrenton.
Principals Brian Hummel and Kim Pafford gave their Principals’ Reports.
The next board meeting will be at 6:45 p.m. on April 18 for board re-organization.
Letters of resignation were approved for Allison Allgood and Christine Clark.
In reports of members, board member Pete Nasir read thank you notes from the Schneidler, Jones, and Deimeke families.
Wheeler mentioned the information presented on non-certified contracts at a previous Executive Session. It was then that board member Kevin Motley excused himself from the meeting due to concerns of Wheeler potentially discussing Executive Session material in the open session. There was a brief discussion.
Board member Nasir also reported on pending legislation items. Motley then returned to the meeting.
Board member Kimber Nation expressed appreciation for being able to serve on the board.