National Merit semifinalists become finalists – In an unusual year, when Webb City High School can claim two National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, gifted instructor Stacy Stockton informed School Board members Tuesday that both semifinalists, Evan Garrison and Truman Oaks, have now done the extra work necessary to become finalists and have found the best and most appropriate scholarships available for them. 

Truman Oaks (right) announced that he has chosen to accept a scholarship from the University of Missouri, where he will study political science.

Evan Garrison (center) announced that he has accepted a scholarship from Mississippi State University to study aerospace engineering.


R-7 District begins hiring teachers during the shortage for next year

Bob Foos

The Webb City School Board on Tuesday got a start on filling open teaching positions for next year by offering contracts to 13 teachers and one principal.

Miranda Hendick was hired to be the principal at Madge T. James Kindergarten Center. She was with the district since 2008 when she taught first grade for nine years at Webster Primary Center. Then she was the Title I instructional coach at Bess Truman Primary Center for five years. For the past year, she’s been the assistant elementary teacher at Monett.

There were 20 applicants for the principal job opening.

Hendrick will replace Karen Brownfield, who is moving to the Springfield area and has been hired to be a principal at a school in Willard.

Superintendent Tony Rossetti said the teaching pool has shrunk, but there are still good candidates.

Brenten Byrd, assistant superintendent for instructional services, said the arrangement at teacher job fairs should be switched, with teachers sitting at booths and districts visiting them.

Jeff Wilkie, high school principal, added the real good teachers shopping for a new position are getting lots of offers.

Rossetti and Byrd expressed frustration and anger with the state’s new rating system for school district under the Missouri School Improvement Program, known as MSIP 6.

They said Webb City’s score of 88% is not a true score because of faults in the system.

“The really frustrating part is they’re not being honest with our community,” said Byrd.


One complaint is that the district’s current and former national Blue Ribbon Schools, Eugene Field Elementary and Harry S Truman Elementary, both received “zeroes.”

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is recommending that the overall score be overlooked.

In a news release announcing the release of the latest performance reports, Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven was quoted as saying, “For the release of this pilot year data, we encourage stakeholders, including community partners and families, to focus less on the APR score and more on the underlying data to learn how they may better support student learning.”

Rossetti said MSIP 6 “does not accurately reflect the success of school districts. It’s infuriating because the unintended outcome is that it will be “encouraging school choice and open enrollment.”

Board member David Collard surmised, “This is fuel for the naysayers.”

On April 5, Rossetti said he and a group of other superintendents will go to Jefferson City to raise concern about MSIP 6 and support Sen. Jill Carter’s bill to allow districts not to participate in the annual MSIP reviews.

Byrd said he plans to publicize the schools’ testing data to give the community an accurate look at their performance.

The MSIP 6 report, he said, is “soul crushing to our teachers. They work hard.” He encouraged the board to praise teachers.

Meanwhile, 412 students who performed well on the MAP test and their parents have been invited to be praised at the annual MAP Banquet. The dinner, at 6 p.m. Monday, April 3, in the high school commons, will be followed by an awards ceremony in the Cardinal Dome.

An outcome of the school safety audit performed in December, is a new crisis plan. Josh Flora, assistant superintendent for business operations, said the plan had not been updated since 1998.

One of the recommendations from the audit was that the board hire a full-time director of safety. Flora also recommended applying for a grant to share the expense of a third school resource officer (SRO) with the city.

The board approved advertising for both positions.

Adam Bell, director of technology, received approval to continue a plan to equip teachers with new computers on a rotating basis. For next year, he will be purchasing computers for middle school and junior high teachers from Apple for $116,000.

In other action, the board:

• Accepted seven resignation letters:

– Alexandra Busker, seventh grade science.

– Tiffany Sutten, special education and behavior teacher at Franklin Resource Center.

– Logan Walker, high school special education teacher.

– Scott Bailey, junior high weights teacher.

– Molly Brown, early childhood special education at Heritage Preschool.

– Emily Flynn, third grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary.

– Ashley McConnell, middle school counselor.

• Offered contracts to 12 teachers:

– Melissa Gurley, junior high math.

– Amanda Walls, junior high special education.

– Jose Speer, junior high weights.

– Marshal Miller, middle school sixth grade.

– Aaron Lee, middle school sixth grade.

– Levi Butts, high school Spanish.

– Riley Kabance, high school science.

– Brady Bridges, high school computer applications and business.

– Derek McKnight, strength and conditioning.

– Cameron Thomas, special education at Webster Primary.

– Quincie Capron, kindergarten at Madge T. James.

– Jordan Toscano, kindergarten at Madge T. James.

– Jordan Hampton, school psychologist.