HOPKINS, Mo. — The North Nodaway R-VI Board of Education discussed changes to the 2020-2021 schedule and possible calendar issues that may arise, during its meeting held Monday in the school’s ITV Room.
Though the board hasn’t seen a completed 2020-2021 calendar, it was one of a few important topics brought up by Superintendent James Simmelink.
Since legislation approved last year by the state, the district is not allowed to start its school year before Monday, Aug. 24. Because of that there are a few complications, including when to hold professional development days, start school and how long the first semester will be.
The district usually allocates 170 days and six professional development days for teachers.
Typically starting the first week of school, North Nodaway would schedule in-service days to begin the week and start school on that Thursday. However, since school cannot start before a Monday, Simmelink is considering shifting the PD days later throughout the semester so school can start on that Monday.
Another issue with the start date being moved back, is that the first semester of school would be significantly shorter than the second.
Typically the district looks at how the Maryville school district schedules and tries to schedule PD days concurrently with it. Simmelink said that helps students who are taking classes at Northwest Technical School.
This year, however, Maryville is considering wrapping around the winter break and continuing first semester in January.
“Back in the day, first semester ended in the middle of January. … I think the consensus is that wrapping it around is probably not the best way to do it ,” said Simmelink. “If possible, we’d like to finish that semester before Christmas break.”
He suggested since Christmas is on a Friday this year, perhaps the district could still have classes the Monday and Tuesday of that same week. Simmelink told the board, the calendar hasn’t been discussed with staff yet, and that he plans to do so before bringing it to the board in February. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposed calendar in March.
DESE policy updates
Board members adopted several policy updates from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education during the meeting.
Most of the discussion centered on two policies that update the district requirements for volunteers who will be alone with students.
The policy now will require all those volunteers go through a background check and fingerprinting at the cost of the district.
Board Secretary Tiffany Whipple said the cost is around $44.50 per check. Board members were concerned with how many volunteers might be deterred by this.
Simmelink said it might deter some, but that the safety this provides might be well worth it.
“The biggest way this may affect us will be on field trips,” said Elementary Principal Ashley Marriott. She further explained that volunteers who used to go on the trips may not be able to do so should they refuse the background check.
Board members also asked if those volunteers with background checks in other fields, could just use those. Simmelink said it would be best if they be checked through the district’s systems.
Another concern of board members was students from the university or in the high school tutoring younger students. Simmelink said the suggestion he received was that those students tutor in the back of a classroom run by a background checked teacher or volunteer.
Other policy updates adopted include the following: District Goals, School Board Vacancies, Revenues from Tax Sources, Purchasing, Selection of a Construction Manager at Risk, Board Training and Development, Federal Programs and Projects, Construction Contracts Bidding and Awards, References, Professional Staff Assignments and transfers, Professional Staff Recruiting and Hiring, Support Staff Assignments and Transfers and Support Staff Recruiting and Hiring.
For more information on R-VI board of education policies visit their website.
Special education program review
Board members reviewed the district’s Special Education Program. The cost to run the districtwide program in 2018-2019 was $266,452.86, which is 9.7 percent of the district’s annual budget.
The bulk of which is spent on salaries, contracted services through the ACES program and supplies.
He said that this year 42 students ages 5 through 21, or 17.2 percent of the student population, were identified by the district as needing special education. Last year the district had 36 students in the program.
These numbers are not out of range compared to enrollment from previous school years.
In 2018-2019 there were 39 students in the special education program. In 2017-2018, 37 students were placed counted in the program. The district saw a high of 46 students in the program in 2014-2015, making up 19.25 percent of the student population.
Board member Cari Cline asked if parents and teachers feel like the funding is adequate to meet the needs of those students.
“So far, I think we’re doing well with the people we have,” Simmelink responded.
- Michael Trautz, R-VI high school math teacher reviewed his class for the board. He said having the Chromebooks has really helped his efficiency in assessing students, and helps to focus on areas they need more help with. “It’s incredible,” he said. Last semester he had four students take pre-calculus for dual credit and one not for dual credit. This semester the dual credit option is Statistics and he has five enrolled and one not receiving dual credit.
- Jessica Trautz North Nodaway K-12 music teacher, said her music appreciation class more than doubled this semester from last, gaining six students for a total of 11. She said that is enough to actually have a choir and possibly begin entering competitions for solo and ensembles.
- The board approved Jamie Wray’s request for early graduation.
- Tony Christian, 2019-2020 Assistant Baseball Coach, effective immediately.
- Jake Shipman, 2019-2020 Athletic Director and Physical Education teacher, effective June 30. Shipman accepted a Mound City principal position.