By Crystal Howerton
District health insurance and salary schedules for certified and support staff were lengthy topics on the agenda for the Knox County R-1 School Board on Tuesday evening, May 20, 2008.
The Knox County R-I School Board approved the insurance options for insured employees recommended by Superintendent D.J. Leverton. The base insurance option increases the deductible to $1000 and raises doctor co-pays as well as prescription drug co-pays. The second option is an individual Health Savings Account (HSA). The HSA allows pre tax contributions into a medical expense account. The board authorized the savings in premiums between the base insurance plan and the HSA to be deposited into any individual's account opting for the HSA, this year only. Supt. Leverton said that the cost for both plans is identical for the school district.
The Board also approved a new salary schedule for teachers. According the Supt. Leverton, the new salary schedule compensates teachers for continued education as well as experience. The new salary schedule raises the base salary to $27,000, a $1,000 increase over last year's base pay.
"The school board recognizes the importance of retaining a high quality teaching staff as well as recruiting certified teachers to the district. The new salary schedule is more comparable to surrounding school districts in hope of losing less teachers to surrounding schools in the future," said Supt. Leverton.
In addition, the Knox County R-I school board also approved a 3% increase to all support staff wages for the 2008-2009 school year.
Following a brief discussion Board members voted to eliminate one middle school teaching position due to restructuring of the middle school/high school schedule that was recommended by High School/Middle School Principal Andy Turgeon. He stated that the classroom would be converted into a middle school computer lab.
In other business, President Joe Delaney read Citizen Communications from the families of Daymond Browning, Elden Ewalt and Nettie Edwards, in addition to a thank you from the Middle School Math Team for sending them to State Contest.
Administrators' reports were heard from Asst. Principal/Transportation Director Steve Ramer, High School/Middle School Principal Andy Turgeon, Elementary Principal Marty Strange, as well as Federal Programs Director/Process Coordinator Nancy Goodwin, MSIP Coordinator Marilyn Waite and Superintendent D.J. Leverton.
Ramer stated that the students had been fairly well-behaved that day considering the excitement that accompanies the last day of school. He informed board members that the district is in the process of seeking bids to repaint the high school gymnasium. He said that there have been a few interested parties, but that he is hoping for more interest prior to the May 30 deadline.
Ramer announced that the summer schedule bus schedule has been set in which four interested drivers will be running three bus routes for three weeks.
A successful Athletic Banquet was held on May 8. Ramer commended Activities Director Stephanie Crawford for setting it up and Guest Speaker Chris Duer.
Ramer recognized the girls' track team for their accomplishments throughout the season and at state competition as well as Mitchell Pegg, who placed ninth at state in the 200-meter dash out of 128 Class 1 schools. In addition, he highlighted the season's accomplishments in Campus Bowl and Baseball, spring sports having completed their seasons.
Prin. Andy Turgeon announced that the Class of 2008 has received $283,560 toward their future educations and that High School Counselor Dani Fromm was to be commended for her support and involvement during the applications process.
The PTO met on May 12, 2008 to elect new officers: President - Barb Hunziker, Secretary - Jamie Campbell, Treasurer - Melanie Kincaid, Box Top Coordinator - Monica Zahn and Board members - Heather Hubble, Staci Strange and Karen Hodge. According to Prin. Strange, approximately $500 was raised during the most recent Box Top Contest, which involved taping her to a wall. The PTO will be using the money from this year's various fundraisers to purchase a new rolling laminator for the school district.
Prin. Strange announced that summer school would begin on Monday, June 2. Between the elementary, middle school and high school, there are over 100 students enrolled with more coming in daily.
Goodwin informed Board members that the Special Education Department received thirty referrals for testing during the 2007-08 school year. "Six of those students qualified for services and were placed, twenty-two did not qualify for services, and two moved out of the district before the testing process was completed," said Goodwin. The Special Education Department is currently providing services to 70 students with IEP's in preschool through 12th grade.
Supt. Leverton said that he would be meeting with Representative Brian Munzlinger in June to discuss Senate Bill 711, which could affect calculation of the District's reassessment.
Waite announced that Ron McSorley, area supervisor visited the District on May 8, offering positive feedback in variety of areas and that the Parent Involvement Committee met on May 12.
CTA Representative Carolyn Primm informed the Board of the new officers: President - Frances Jones, Vice-President - Tracy Hamlin, Secretary - Stacey English and Treasurer - Erin Trutwin. The CTA scholarship was recently awarded to Christina Klataske. Tracy Mallet, Dani Fromm and Diane Dees were all recognized as Outstanding Educators for the month of May.
Board members heard Programs and Services Evaluation Reports for the A+ Program and Gifted Program from Dani Fromm and Betsy Ayers.
Fromm gave a short and upbeat report regarding the status of the A+ program. According to Fromm, the A+ program has been very beneficial to students and should continue to grow and expand. She sees no threats to the program at this time.
Ayers reported on strengths and weaknesses, as well as technology and threats to the District's Gifted program. According to Ayers, the program is classified as K-12 by the State, which allows her to work with gifted students at any level of their education. This year there were 24 students in the Gifted program. She said the District participated in a number of competitions throughout the area that she feels spurs the students' thinking and applauded parent involvement within the program.
Ayers identified weaknesses within program as the difficulties associated with scheduling, especially among the middle school and the lack of additional testing materials. Ayers is specifically interested in K-Bit, the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, which screens for verbal and nonverbal cognitive functions. Board members held an informal discussion in which they discussed the possible purchase of the above testing material and/or asking similar districts to share in the purchase and use of the testing material.
Ayers stated that the District has a great technology department and she has and will continue to apply for grants to implement within the Gifted program. As far as threats, Ayers believes that funding could become an issue in the future and expressed hopes that the District would continue to support the program financially.
Prin. Turgeon recommended that School Board members allow a stipend for the Renaissance Program sponsor, currently Cyndy Bliem-Sharp, similar to that which is paid to the National Honor Society (NHS) or Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) sponsors, etc., as well as adding the Renaissance program to the extracurricular activity schedule. The proposal was approved by Board members as requested.