For now, summer school is set for late May and early June and the new school year will start Aug. 24, the Salem R-80 school board was told Thursday night. But those dates are subject to change due to the COVID-19 crisis gripping the nation.

Superintendent John McColloch said current plans are to run summer school from May 18 to June 5, a total of 14 days, for grades K-6.

“But we just found out today that the state has cancelled all testing for this year,” he told the board. “Some other states have shut down school for the remainder of the year. That’s very much a possibility here.”

If that happens, there will likely be no summer school, he said.

Due to health concerns, R-80 cancelled classes starting March 18 with a tentative return date of April 6, pending further action at the state or local level. All Missouri school districts have cancelled classes at least temporarily.

School Calendar

The board approved a 2020-21 school calendar Thursday night that begins Aug. 24 and runs through May 14. McColloch discussed the calendar last month, but wanted to meet with the faculty calendar committee before bringing it back for board action. The committee overwhelming favored extending the school day by 15 minutes to move the dismissal date up to May 14 from May 25, 2021, he said.

The year would run 166 days or 1,104.15 hours. The state requires 1,104 hours of instruction, including 1,044 regular hours and 60 makeup hours. Extending each day shortens the calendar by seven school days.

“This is all subject to what might happen at the state level with COVID- 19 and the decisions being made,” McColloch told the board.

The late start is due to tourism-fueled bill passed by the state legislature last year that pushed the starting date back to no more than 10 days before Labor Day.

One change in the calendar is making Nov. 3 a professional development day, coinciding with the November general election. All the rural schools are polling places and would rather not have students present due to a disturbance in 2016 that resulted in law enforcement being called, he said.

Health Insurance

In a report on employee health insurance, McColloch showed the board quotes from the district’s current provider, the South Central Education Consortium, and two new groups, Ozarks Schools Benefits Association and Missouri Educators Unified Health Plan, that have agreed to accept the R-80 district.

SCEC’s plan includes a 31 percent increase to $598 per employee per month, up from $456 this year, that would cost the district $361,750. A similar HSA plan from MEUHP would be 26 percent more than this year.

OSBA’s PPO plan is 31 percent more than this year and its lowest deductible HSA plan is 28 percent higher. MEUHP’s highest deductible plan, the 6550 HSA, is 7 percent higher than this year at $489 per month and OSBA’s 6500 HSA is 17 percent higher at $533 per month.

If R-80 decides to leave SCEC for another provider, there’s a $100,046 exit fee based on 213 subscribers at $469.70 each, McColloch said. OSBA would charge a three-year load factor for R-80 to join because of the district’s health history, ranging from 17.75 percent the first year to 7.75 percent the third year.

“They do that because we’ve not been healthy,” he told the board. “That’s their way of protecting the group from expenses they may incur if we come in.”

Both groups had good reserves, unlike SCEC, which hit R-80 with roughly $500,000 in assessments last year to help cover losses. MEUHP has 90 member schools and OSBA about 40. McColloch plans to meet with the salary benefit committee this week to work through the numbers.

SCEC must be informed of the district’s intentions by April 1, so an emergency meeting of the board may be necessary to make a decision, he said.

“The thing I’m worried about with SCEC is some of the larger, healthy schools are going to leave because of the instability of the group and they can have greener pastures other places,” McColloch said. “That’s going to leave us with other districts that are even unhealthier than we are,” leading to even higher rates.

Facilities Report

In a facilities update, McColloch reported that installation of LED lighting at the high school, middle school and upper elementary school is moving quickly and could be complete by March 27. With school not in session, crews have been working both during the day and evening and are well ahead of schedule. The administration building was completed Wednesday.

“The place you can really tell the difference is in the high school gym,” he said. “If you go in there, it’s like a whole new world, it’s so much brighter.” The gym now meets lighting competition standards set the Illuminating Engineering Society, he said.

Replacing existing lighting with energy-efficient LEDs at all but one building using a low-interest state loan was approved by the board last October. A one-year study of energy savings will also be conducted.

The district obtained $273,000 in loan funds through the Department of Economic Development to pay for lighting at all school buildings except William Lynch Elementary. The board approved a separate proposal to spend $8,800 to retrofit the SHS gym with LED lighting.

R-80 is still seeking donations toward the Youth Opportunities tax credit program attached to the state grant for a new Construction Trades/Computer Science building at SHS. McColloch said he has contacted individuals in Salem that might have clients interested in the program. His next step is to go outside of Salem for donations. Until some are made, the project is on hold, he said.

Chromebooks Purchased

The board also approved the purchase of 350 Chromebooks from CDGW, the low bidder, for $214 each, a total of $74,902. The purchase is usually made in May, but supplies are limited with shipments from China at a standstill and higher prices expected when they resume, McColloch said.

Other bids ranged up to $87,150. The bids include a finance charge for buying the Chromebooks early and paying for them in July. The district has purchased Chromebooks from CDGW previously.

All students now have Chromebooks. The new ones will replace units bought four years ago. Students have the option to buy the oldest ones and the rest are kept for parts.

Tuition Rate

Also Thursday night, the board approved a 2020-21 tuition rate of $7,487 per student on non-resident students attending R-80 schools. The rate, charged to rural K-8 districts that send students to SHS, is slightly lower than last year, when the rate was $7,570. The decreased is based on a formula that took into account higher weighted average daily attendance and higher pupil transportation revenues.

McColloch said he advised the rural districts that tuition would be higher in years to come due to insurance assessments and higher insurance costs. “But they get little bit of a break next year,” he said.

Policy Action

In other action, the board approved renewing its agreement with Missouri School Boards Association policy services for $3,479.

The board also approved 28 MSBA policy updates, mostly due to changes in state and federal law. One update dealt with offering sexual abuse training to students in grade 6 and above. Parents have the option to opt out. Another update dealt with due process for employees who resign due to allegations of sexual abuse and how they are vetted by contacting their previous school district.

Resignations

Before adjourning to closed session, the board voted to accepted the resignations of Brian McNamee, high school physical education and head track coach; Jessica Crites, high school science; Rockey Wade, middle school football and assistant boys’ basketball; Jillian Doddema, assistant track; Sarah Sullivan, middle school math; Dale Sandlin Jr., middle school physical education, basketball and assistant track, and Chelsie Fulton, high school student council.

Faculty Rehired

In closed session, the board:

Voted to hire William Lynch Elementary probationary teachers Kim Cooper, Lauren Prugh, Shannon Phelps, Angela Shaw, Stacey Hall, Kelsey Wyrick, Raylene Wilson and Melissa Lettman for the 2020-21 school year.

Voted to hire Upper Elementary probationary teachers Staci Armer, Kristiana Bermudez, Kristal Flohr, Sarah Piatt, Alaena Tyler, Julie Dunn, Melanie Smith, Amanda Hanger and Ashlyn Patterson for the 2020-21 school year.

Voted to hire middle school probationary teachers Jerry Adkins, Dustin Bell, Abrie Enloe, Chris Kamprath, Cole Price, Rocky Wade and Scott Fredrickson for the 2020-21 school year.

Voted to hire high school probationary teachers Bryan Carty, Alec Conner, Jessica Haberman, Elizabeth Hogan, Tracy Leathers, Judy Moore, Sarah Sanders, Elizabeth Wright, Derek Freeman, Martin Gray, Angela Loughridge, Tyler McConnell, Janet Roach, AJ Tinker, Dylan Wyrick, Lane Howard, Lindsey Major and Amy Sanders for the 2020-21 school year.

Voted to hire Kaylie Jay, speech language pathologist, for the next school year. Members also voted to hire Chelsey Tune with member Chris Heavin abstaining.

Voted to hire Kristen Williams, high school physical education and head volleyball coach, for the 2020-21 school year. Members also voted to hire Bryson Barnes, high school business, and Emily Atkinson, high school science.

Voted to hire Will Hubbs for high school Quiz Bowl, Robin Taylor for high school yearbook, Amy Halinar for upper elementary yearbook, Mary Beth Patrick for William Lynch yearbook, Elaine Russell for high school music, David Schatz for high school band, Susan Sheeley for high school Quiz Bowl, Robyn Taylor for HS head junior class sponsor, Tania Wood for middle school yearbook, Kelsey Schatz for high school color guard, Heidi Ross for instructional coach, Scott Fredrickson for assistant band director, and Mark Howard for high school student council for the 2020-21 school year.

In addition, the board voted to hire Dylan Wyrick as head varsity football, Bryan Carty as assistant football coach, Tony Edwards as assistant football coach, Kyle Anderson as assistant football coach, Lane Howard for assistant football coach; Dustin Bell, 7th/8th football; Derek Freeman, 7th/8th football; Phil Karr, head softball coach; Darcy Reardon for assistant softball, Elizabeth Hogan for winter cheerleading, Nick Frillman for middle school girls basketball, Kristi Steelman for assistant volleyball, Kristiana Bermudez for middle school volleyball, Bryan Carty for head boys basketball coach, Chris Kamprath for eighth grade boys basketball, Jerry Adkins for ninth grade boys basketball, Jake Reardon for head girls basketball, Nick Frillman for assistant girls basketball, Bryan Carty for assistant track, Derek Freeman for assistant track, Phil Karr for head baseball coach, Tony Edwards for assistant baseball, Jake Reardon for assistant baseball, Will Hubbs for head tennis, Travis Sampson for head cross country coach, Kyle Anderson for head golf, Phil Karr for athletic director and Clay Moody for assistant athletic director. The board hired Jody Heavin as fall cheerleading coach with Heavin abstaining.

Principals’ Reports

William Lynch Elementary

Students of the Month: Charlee Green, Sawyer Bohac, Emily Jones, Ryleigh Hair, Blake Kissir, Cambrie Boyle, Aiden Miller, Marisa White, Isabella Galloway, Lexi Gapsch, Grace Billiot, Chloe Sanders, Hunter Snyder, Elizabeth Stokes, Liam Light.

Our March Spotlight Assembly will be postponed until we return from our extended break.

March 6 was Poetry and Pastries with Parents. Parents were invited to join their students for breakfast in the cafeteria and poetry in the classrooms. It was well attended, and the survey results show that parents enjoyed the time with their students.

Kindergarten Registration was March 10 and 11. We registered 58 new Tigers. Our last kindergarten registration will be in May.

Preschool Registration will be May 13 and 14. Parents of incoming preschoolers should call the office after we return to school to schedule an appointment. Children that will be three by Aug. 1, 2020 are eligible for preschool enrollment.

We earned our eighth PBS party for the year. Students were reward with a bubble gum party.

A family made and donated sandwiches to share with families that may need a little help feeding their students during this extended break. I had the privilege of donating them to some very grateful parents and kiddos.

WLE teachers had an incredibly quick response to the announcement of our extended break. They put together packets to keep students engaged in enrichment learning during their time away from school. I know our parents are appreciative of the guidance for how to provide educational support at home.

Current enrollment is 271: Pre-K is 61, Kindergarten 119 and first grade 91. Our proportional attendance rate is 86.36%.

Upper Elementary

We had 94% of our students here 90% of the time through the month of February. We currently have 332 enrolled. Our 3rd grade won the monthly attendance rate for February with 94.45% attendance for the month.

Our February Students of the Month include: 2nd grade-Zola Mendenhall, Emmett Robbin, Eyan Sellers, Jett Nichols, Isaac White, Serenity Drury, Noah Aubuchon, and Tyler Hogan; 3rd grade-Quin Dahms, Jaedyn Amonette, Levi Smith, Michael Lea, Lucas Jennings, Aubrey Widner, Tommy Bailey, and Seren Sharp; 4th grade-Kaylynn Wesley, Eli Young, Jayci Warden, Calyssa Parks, Teegan Capps, JaQuetta Ray, Taytum Goad, and Paris Schlicher; 5th grade-Josie Howard, Ryder Counts, Levi Richardson, Madaline Ruhr, Winter McElfresh, Byron Barton, Emma Purcell, and Noah Foster.

Our students raised $1040.20 for Pennies for Patients. They were excited to have fun days centered around their fundraising and the competition between boys and girls was pretty tough.

We’d like to congratulate Mrs. Phelps, our 5th grade teachers and the cast of Annie Jr. for their amazing performance in last week’s musical, Annie Jr. It truly took a team of people who could sew, people who could act, people who could do light/sound, people who could feed the cast and crew, and people who could direct and teach. Thanks to everyone for making it a huge success.

The Dent County 4th/5th Grades Quiz Bowl tournament was held on Feb. 25. Our teams included R-1, R-4, R-80 and Bunker. Our Salem X Team won over our Salem Y Team in double elimination.

We had four students in attendance at our Family Math Night on March 9.. Those students were able to work one-on-one with teachers to find ways to connect with math at home.

Middle School

Students of the Month are Emily Ballard, Preston McFarland, and Presley Hanson

High School

Students of the Month are Cade Atchley and Denise Stoner

The proportional attendance rate was 88.48% attending 90% of the time.

Enrollment is 550 students.

High School to Hire Program with East Central College was reported on by Conrad Prugh, assistant principal.

Taking Initiative recognition went to Layton Southards and Jordan Sanders

A report was given on high school efforts to provide alternative methods of instruction