Plans for a proposed walking trail in Vandalia hit a snag during the Van-Far R-I School Board meeting held Thursday, January 19.
City of Vandalia Mayor Ramon Barnes and City Clerk Karen Shaw attended the meeting to answer any questions the school board had relating to an easement request.
Concerns were expressed by multiple school board members for student safety in crossing Highway 54 and Route P in order to get to the trail.
They also noted concerns for children walking the trail unattended.
“We have great concerns on the safety issue,” board member Charlie Scrogin told Mayor Barnes.
“There’s no sidewalks on the side of the Highway out to the ‘Y’ and somebody would have to furnish a guard at the crossing…”
“I agree with everything Charlie said,” said Board President Kevin Motley.
“It’s a very dangerous intersection. Before I vote for that, I want to put in some things for safety considerations.”
Mayor Barnes then told the board that the city was working on the project on behalf of a request from former Van-Far Superintendent Kevin Freeman.
Current Van-Far Superintendent Chris Felmlee noted that the walking trail had not been discussed or recorded in any meeting minutes since he’s been with the district.
Board member Pete Nasir made a motion to approve the easement that died with a lack of a second motion as expected.
Mayor Barnes said if the easement was voted down, the city could possibly still use the grant money for another project.
Later in the week, City Administrator Alan Winders, who was unable to attend the meeting, said the city will be in conversation with the engineer about the possibility of using funds “somewhere else.”
The MSBA Policy GBH regarding staff and student relations, also known as the “Facebook” law, was approved for implementation by the March 1, 2012 deadline.
The policy notes the importance of maintaining boundaries as an essential requirement for employment in the district.
Staff members also cannot provide students transportation without a supervisor’s approval.
In regards to electronic communication, staff members can communicate with students in an appropriate, professional manner during the hours of 6 a.m.-10 p.m. while using district-provided devices only.
The policy does not limit staff members from communicating with their own children. Training will be provided to staff on the policy’s revisions.
Kindergarten teachers Gena Gibson, Sarah Jensen, and Angie Morris presented a self-evaluation of the Kindergarten curriculum to the board.
Gibson told the board they develop their ELO’s from the GLE’s as the team meets twice a week to review data and to plan.
Smart goals are reviewed and intervention strategies are developed to achieve the goals.
Students were divided into three groups based on their needs and were assisted by paraprofessionals.
The students then do a self-assessment and plot their own growth chart.
Post tests show a gain of 37-percent for students as Gibson noted that this Kindergarten class is the first to be tied to the new common core standards.
First grade teachers Rachel Howell, Kelly Hopke, and Brenda Colbert also presented a self-evaluation to the board.
The group assesses smart goals and implementation of ELO’s are directly tied to SAFA components that include a student’s grade level and ability level. Fridays are used by the team to flex their plans, reteach, or extend the curriculum if necessary.
DAR Representative Ruth Miller introduced Abigail Robinson as the 8th grade winner for her DAR essay that was chosen for the next level of competition. Robinson, who was also named the Jr./Sr. High School Student of the Month, read her essay about President Andrew Jackson to the board. Her essay came from the perspective of Jackson’s friend during Jackson’s life in the War of 1812.
Van-Far Elementary’s Students of the Month for December were Kaylynne Wallace (Pre-K), Kadin McCurdy (K), Victoria Escamilla (1st), Kaylen Culwell (2nd), Panna Connaway (3rd), Mackena Hays (4th), Jordan Garner (5th), and Daylan Chandler (6th).
Superintendent Felmlee announced an enrollment of 345 for students K-6th grades and 273 for 7th-12th grade students for a district total of 618. The average daily attendance was 580.20.
Board candidate filings were announced as incumbent Pete Nasir and newcomer Greg Frost both declared their candidacy by the January deadline.
Superintendent Felmlee also reported that the local AEL Department received an excellent review from the State Department of Education. He thanked long time AEL Director Russ Conn for leaving the program in great shape while also praising the new AEL Director Shannon Moore for her hard work and dedication to the program. He added that a new daytime program in Vandalia is being added to accommodate more adults wishing to obtain their GED.
Superintendent Felmlee’s contract was renewed by a 6-1 vote for the 2013-2014 school year. Board member Christy Nelson cast the lone “No” vote and has done so in the past when it comes to giving administrators multiple year contracts.
Read the rest of the story in this week’s issue of The Vandalia Leader or purchase an electronic edition.