R-7 Board may place no-tax-increase bond issue on April ballot
The Webb City R-7 School Board may decide during a special session on Nov. 22 whether to ask voters in April to approve a no-tax-increase bond issue to finance construction projects.
At the regular meeting on Tuesday, board members indicated their highest priority is to build an addition onto the high school to house up-to-date science classrooms.
That addition, estimated to cost $3.3 million, would be built where the old tennis courts are, north of the swim center.
With existing funds, the board is receiving plans on how to reconfigure the American Legion building. An early cost estimate of $1,226,023 isn’t that bad for 18,000 square feet, said Superintendent Tony Rossetti.
Adding the purchase price of $950,000 brings the total up to $2,176,023.
“You could not build that building for anything near that,” he said. Rather, he estimated the same amount of square footage would cost in the $4 to $5 million range.
He said he would have a layout of the American Legion building reconfiguration ready for board review at the Nov. 22 meeting.
The board approved Rossetti’s recommendation that the half day of school on the Monday before Christmas be taken off the calendar. That will give students and staff a full two-week break.
Although it cuts a day off the normal 175-day calendar, Rossetti said the district will still meet the state-required number of hours in the classroom.
He said the board could consider it a reward for students and teachers. But he added, “I’m going out on a limb and say attendance wouldn’t be that great.”
The board approved another reward for teachers by allowing them to take a second personal day this year.
“We’ve asked them (teachers) to do a lot these past two years,” said Rossetti. “I think it would be a nice gesture.”
Teachers will still be able to accumulate no more than three personal days. And the second personal day is not approved for future years.
Also, the board approved an employee assistance program offered by Mercy. For $900 a month, employees will be able to confidentially talk to counselors 24/7 about any problems they are having.
Rossetti warned that school start times may have to be staggered next year as a way of adapting to the shortage of bus drivers.
Staggering start times would allow drivers to drive two routes – so fewer drivers would be needed.
In presenting his annual bus ridership report to the state, Kevin Cooper, assistant superintendent of business operations, summarized by saying, “We have more riders with fewer drivers.”
As the pandemic winds down, he said, “Everybody’s more comfortable riding the bus. Trust me, they are riding the bus.”
Cooper reported that as of Tuesday there were six students testing positive with COVID-19, causing a total of 24 to be quarantined. Another 14 are testing to stay in school.
He said that since the testing to stay in school policy was adopted none of the students staying in school have gotten infected.
Of the six students currently testing positive, he said none were traced back to exposure at school. Rather, most were exposed by a family member.
“It’s (COVID-19) still out there,” but Cooper said baby steps are being taken toward allowing to volunteers help teachers and work with students.
The board approved implementation of Cardinal Academy as the district’s own virtual learning program.
Brenten Byrd, assistant superintendent of instructional services, said Angie Broaddus, director of virtual learning, has been working on the plan for kindergarten through sixth-grade students. It willreplace the Acellus program which the district purchases.
“Our curriculum and vigor is higher than Acellus,” said Rossetti.
Teachers will be offered the “challenge by choice” to record lessons on video. Those accepting the challenge will be paid a $3,000 stipend.
Byrd said the expense will be offset by not paying Acellus next year, and that new lessons won’t be needed in succeeding years.
Ater a closed session, board members voted to accept Dennis Grissom’s offer to sell his four lots in the 1000 block of North Madison Street across from the high school to the district for $160,000.
Structures on the lots will be demolished for additional parking. The district has already purchased another lots in that block and is in discussions with other property owners.
In other action, the board:
• Approved the purchase of replacement scoreboards, including those in the junior high and middle school gyms and on the north side of the high school football field, for a total cost of $37,330 from Daktronics.
• Approved the resignation of April Billings, a junior high math teacher, effective Oct. 29. Her position has already been filled.