None of the school board members attended their Tuesday night meeting in person. However, six were present on the screen. The only people actually in person were Cheryl Chaney, board secretary, Superintendent Tony Rossetti, assistant superintendents Brenten Byrd and Kevin Cooper, Adam Bell, director of technology, and two visitors.

School Board considers purchasing expansive Legion/VFW Hall

The American Legion/VFW Hall has two school properties nearby, the baseball field on the left and Heritage Early Childhood Center on the right.

Preliminary cost is $900,000 plus land trade so veterans can construct a replacement building

Part of the school’s vacant property along Mainn Street north of the Webster Primary Center playground would be traded to the American Legion and VFW.

Webb City R-7 School Board members were agreeable Tuesday to a plan to purchase the American Legion and VFW building at 1,000 N. Main St.

The expansive metal building is adjacent to the Heritage Early Childhood Center, which was originally built as the VFW Hall.

Superintendent Tony Rossetti said the purchase makes sense for the district if nothing else to allow future expansion of the preschool center.

The veterans organizations would build a new hall on land deeded to it by the school district, according to Rossetti. That land is on the west side of Main Street between Webster Primary Center and Stadium Drive. The veterans organizations own the northwest corner of Stadium Drive and Main Street.

The cost would be $900,000, which Rossetti happily reported the district is in a position to pay outright.  He calculated the square-foot cost of the 18,000 square-foot building at $50. “We cannot build anything for $50 per square foot,” he said.

Board members were impressed that the price includes all of the property surrounding the veterans hall (except for the houses fronting Main Street) and with the building’s large open rooms. The largest room is where bingo is played and the annual free Veterans Day and Thanksgiving meals are served.

Rossetti said the district’s possible uses for the building are endless. The most obvious would be to expand the preschool. He also mentioned moving the special education staff and instructional coaches offices to the hall and holding large faculty meetings there. 

The district has already bought the baseball field built by the American Legion, which is just to the west of the hall. Rossetti suggested the hall kitchen could be used for concessions, and there would be room for baseball locker rooms.

AMI days, not snow days

0The cold night on Tuesday, preceding the third day in a row that school was called off because of slick roads, was an appropriate time for the board to hear a report on AMI (alternative method of instruction) days.

Brenten Byrd, assistant superintendent for instruction, said the current cold spell caught the educators by surprise, but they were still prepared because they had previously sent home emergency instruction packets with the students. Those without an internet connection were given paper packets.

Rather than introduce new concepts, Byrd said the emergency packets are meant to help students master what they’ve already gone over in class.

Much of the professional development day on Jan. 18 was spent on teachers completing their own online curriculum, as opposed to curriculum purchased by the district.

“We’re real close to having all of our curriculum online,” said Byrd.

In the near future, he said, “We’ll be competing for online kids. By the district having its own curriculum, “We’ll be glad to say they graduated from Webb City” instead of  major online providers vying against school districts for state per-student dollars.

As opposed to snow days, AMI days aren’t required by the state to be made up. Knowing that, the board has previously guaranteed that there will be no classes on Presidents Day (Feb. 15) and Good Friday (April 2) and that spring break (the week of March 22) won’t be shortened. If this week’s AMI days were snow days, it’s likely there would be school on Presidents Day and Good Friday.

2021-22 calendar set

The board approved a 2021-2022 school calendar, which will start Monday, Aug. 23, abiding by state law regulating how soon before Labor Day that school can start. That rule was relaxed this school year because of COVID-19 precautions.

Rossetti said he received input from the Webb City Community Teachers Association salary and welfare committee. Christmas break will start after students return for one day of classes on Monday, Dec. 20, and continue until Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Good finacial position

Rossetti told board members he expects the district will receive $2.7 million in federal stimulus money.

That’s on top of $1.8 million previously distributed to the district by the Jasper County Commission for reimbursement of costs related to the coronavirus.

What’s more, he said the district has received a $650,000 check for roof repairs required by hail damage. Rossetti had disputed the amount of the original settlement but at best had only expected to receive an additional $450,000.

Summing up, he said, I’m thankful to be in a good financial position in a difficult time.”

In other action, the board:

  • Approved a motion to pay the complete $1,500 cost per student to attend the three-week Missouri Scholars Academy at the University of Missouri. Each year, the district sends two incoming juniors to the academy. Byrd reported the cost has risen from $750. However, this year’s academy will be virtual. Last year’s academy was canceled.
  • Voted to allow Athletic Director John Roderique to determine which weight room equipment is surplus and to sell it.
  • Approved the purchase of a new locking system for the doors at all schools. Instead of doors unlocking when there’s an electrical failure, the new system will lock when the electricity goes off. It will also be controlled from a central location instead of in each building.
  • Was informed that at last report there were only four positive COVID- 19 cases (student and staff).
  • Received updated plans for the new high school additions for a JROTC and archery firing range and swimming pool locker rooms.
  • Was informed commencement will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 14.
  • Agreed to start summer school Thursday, June 3, and end Wednesday, June 30.
  • Approved a one-year leave-of-absence request by Cathy West, a high school math teacher. She will be guaranted a position when she returns but not necessarily the same position.
  • Accepted resignation letters from:

– Desiree Felker, high school social studies teacher. It’s been announced she will be the Joplin volleyball coach.

– Donna Mitchell, first grade teacher at Webster Primary Center.

– Gabriella Baiza, high school Spanish teacher.

Following a closed meeting, the board extended contracts for the following building administrators.

  • High school – Josh Flora, principal; Amanda Eggleston, Tamara Ponce and Jeff Wilkie, assistant principals.
  • Junior high school – Angie Broaddus, principal; Johnathon Derryberry, assistant principal.
  • Middle school – Jonathan Weingert, principal; Melissa Huff, assistant principal.
  • Heritage Early Childhood Center – Jenny Parker and Traci Coleman, directors.
  • Madge T. James Kindergarten Center – Karen Brownfield, principal.
  • Webster Primary Center – Sarah Lee, principal.
  • Mark Twain Elementary – Jan Shelley, principal.
  • Eugene Field Elementary – Dusty Allen, principal.
  • Bess Truman Primary Center – Alicia Zornes, principal.
  • Harry S Truman Elementary – Jodi Bennett, principal.
  • Carterville Elementary – Jarrett Cook, principal.