R-7 Board members discuss possible future facilities improvements

Current projects are in various stages of completion

Webb City R-7 School Board members took no action but tossed around ideas on how to improve facilites in the future during a work session before their regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

For one thing, they would like to take advantage of the vast space within the American Legion building by August 2023. The district is acquiring the building but must wait to occupy it until the American Legion moves into its new building, which is under construction.

An addition at the high school for new science rooms is a need generally agreed upon. 

There’s money in the bank dedicated to paying for capital improvements and more is expected to be received when the state distributes federal CARES Act funds.

In the meantime, the board approved a contract to purchase a lot north of the junior high school at 811 W. Broadway for no more than $39,900. Kevin Cooper, assistant superintendent of business operations, told the board that the sale originated with a real estate sign in the yard.

In August, the board approved the purchase of a lot at 714 N. Madison St., across from the high school performing arts center. Cooper said more properties in that block may be available to purchase.

Cooper updated the board on current projects. There will be a ribbon-cutting for softball field improvements at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, which will precede senior night activities and the first game to be played there since the improvements have been made.

The new tennis courts won’t be done before the end of the current season. In addition to the new courts, there will be lighting fencing and parking lots.

Work is proceeding on the archery/JROTC firing range addition to the east side of the high school so that it will be ready when the steel arrives.

The addition of locker rooms at the swim center is nearly complete. 

EARLY ENROLLMENT EXCEEDS PRE-PANDEMIC COUNT

Superintendent Tony Rossetti reported enrollment is back to where it was before the pandemic – plus a normal amount of growth.

The early count this year is 4,512 total students, which is 70 more than the 4,442 enrolled at the same time in 2020. This year’s count is 118 more than last year’s pandemic-affected count of 4,394.

Class sizes are generally in the low 20s. A third kindergarten class was added at Carterville Elementary because there are too many students for two teachers. Crystal Fries was hired as the third teacher.

There are 159 students enrolled in virtual classes, which is a decrease.

Angie Broaddus, the new director of virtual learning, presented a handbook for the program.

COVID-19 BACK DOWN AFTER BRIEF SURGE

Cooper said he got nervous last week when the number of quarantined students in the district jumped from 22 to 100 in two days.

The number was back down to 25 Tuesday, including 14 students and three staff members who were isolated.

Since the beginning of school, he said there have been three quarantined students who have become positive. The majority of the infections occur away from school, he said.

He noted that students who are exposed but vaccinated don’t have to be quarantined. “I feel they got vaccinated so they could stay in school.”

So far, Cooper said he is encouraged by the low rate of infection and has gone as far as to give tentative approval for the choirs to compete this winter.

He said he’s not worried about outside activities and has approved this year’s homecoming pep rally to be held at the stadium. It was canceled last year.

MOSO CAPS PROPOSAL

The board heard a proposal for high school students to be able to attend sessions at Missouri Southern State University for dual credit and career exploration.

It was presented by Suzanne Hull, director of MOSO CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) and a Webb City alumna.

She said the blended experience would provide students a chance to earn credits while developing skills and contacts for careers. Joplin, Carthage and Carl Junction districts are also considering the program.

Rossetti said MOSO CAPS is preferable to the district doing something similar on its own and that he doesn’t see a negative. The proposal will likely be on the Oct. 12 meeting agenda for board approval.

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