Webb City Superintendent Tony Rossetti (right) discusses using other tests instead of the MAP during the Legislator/Superintendent Forum last week at the Southwest Center of Academic Excellence in Webb City. To his right are Carl Junction Superintendent Phil Cook (glasses) and Miller Superintendent Dustin Storm.

Board members told not to expect true picture of the district's academic performance when state test scores are released

Bob Foos

Webb City R-7 School Board members were told Tuesday to brace themselves for a less-than-great score when the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education releases the 2022-23 Annual Performance Report next week.

It will be the second year that Superintendent Tony Rossetti and Brenten Byrd, assistant superintendent for instruction, have expressed dissatisfaction with the state’s accreditation process.

“DESE used to be a support system for schools,” Rossetti said. “That mission has changed. Now, it’s an obstacle to getting things done.”

Citing the fact that Webb City has had a national Blue Ribbon School two years in a row (Eugene Field and Harry S Truman elementary schools), he said the Missouri School Improvement Program is “not an accurate measure of what we’ve done.”

Rossetti made similar remarks last week at the Legislator/Superintendent Forum at the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence.

He said, “Now’s the time to take a wrecking ball to the system from No Child Left Behind.”

Carl Junction Superintendent Phil Cook, also speaking at that meeting, said, “Accreditation and how we assess kids has to be changed.”

In September, the board voted to join the Success-Ready Students Network, whose members seek three-year waivers to use other forms of assessment instead of the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) test.


New FEMA grant application

The board is in the running for more FEMA grant funds. Application is being made now to construct a tornado shelter that will unite the Special Services and Heritage Preschool buildings.

FEMA funds have previously been used to finance construction of tornado-shelter additions at seven schools, including the Cardinal Dome at the high school.

After reviewing proposals, motions were approved to hire Incite Design Studio for preliminary architectural services and Toth and Associates for grant management. There won’t be fees if FEMA rejects the district’s application.

If the application is approved, Rossetti estimated it will cost the district at least $1 million to match the grant and buy furnishings.

Construction wouldn’t be expected to start until early 2025.


JROTC congratulated

Cardinal Battalion Commander Preston Burton and Executive Officer Claire Rives updated the board on the JROTC program retaining its status as an Honor Unit with Distinction.

The program underwent its three-year U.S. Army inspection on Nov. 7 and received a near-perfect score.

Instructors Dustin Elder and Stephanie Attaway said they were proud of everything the cadets have done during the past three years, which was reviewed by Army inspectors.

Board member David Collard recalled how the program had once been on the edge of being dissolved. “Now, you’ve brought it back.”

Elder revealed that “not one, not two, but three” rifle teams have been invited to attend the national championships during the next semester. The Army covers expenses but he said he wasn’t sure if there would be enough for all three teams. The board promised to pay what the Army doesn’t to make sure all team members get to go.


Three file for two open board seats

Tuesday, Dec. 26, is the deadline to file for election as a candidate for one of two open seats on the school board.

The current three-year terms of Lisa Robinson and Jason Woodmansee will end in April.

So far, Erin Taylor has filed in addition to Robinson and Woodmansee.

In other action, the board:

• Accepted the retirement letter of Nancy O’Banion, who has taught theatre in the district for 25 years.

• May 17 was announced as the date for commencement, and a preliminary calendar for 2024-25 was reviewed.

• The annual audit by KPM CPAs and Advisors was approved. Rossetti highlighted total fund balances of $14,049,389 and the amount of debt service needed each year through 2042.