Webb City R-7 School District retirees were honored with a recognition ceremony Thursday, May 6. Present were (SITTING) Lanita Southard, 20 years, junior high art; Angela Resa, 29 years, high school English; Tricia Richardson, 27 years junior high special education; Kim Jones, 28 years, administrative assistant to the superintendent; Lisa Crow, 30 years, Title I assistant; Jackie Young, 15 years, speech language pathologist. (STANDING) Walter Resa, 28 years middle school physical education; Bob Koch, 6 years, bus driver; Joy Graham, 5 years, food service clerk; Guyla Brown, 25 years, bus aide; Darla Williams, 21 years, physical education; Nancy Smith, 25 years, food service clerk; Gail Rice, 15 years, junior high special education; Jerry Kruckenberg, 18 years, high school drafting. (NOT PICTURED) Judy Foster, 18 years, cook; Melissa Wales, 31 years, second grade; Ralph Doss, 16.5 years, bus driver; Donna Yeager, 18 years, bus driver; Penny Wilkinson, 19 years, bus driver.

 

School board won’t rush decision on how to spend influx of federal funds

Additional $5.6 million expected

Webb City R-7 School Board members aren’t getting into a rush to decide how best to spend an influx of one-time federal funds.

They held a work session prior to their regular meeting Tuesday to be brought up to date on the state of the current budget and a new federal revenue stream amounting to $5.6 million.

The district has already received $2.7 million from the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Education Relief Fund.

ESSER initially received $13.5 billion in pandemic-related funding in March 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The 2021 CARES Act, passed in December 2020, added another $54.3 billion. And in March 2021, ESSER received $122.7 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act.

States will distribute the money to local districts in the same manner that it distributes other federal funding.

Superintendent Tony Rossetti said will have to decide how much of the one-time money to transfer to the district’s capital projects fund and how much to keep in the operating fund.

Another work session was set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 24.

“Over the next two to three years, the board may be able to do things not previously thought possible,” said Rossetti.

END TO MANDATORY MASKS SOUGHT

A group of about 40 parents attended the meeting in opposition to making students wear masks.

Dr. Hailey Burpo, speaking for the group, thanked the board for developing the Cardinal Comeback plan so that students could return to school the whole school year but said now the district is still requiring masks without the backing of science.

“Why can’t we take the masks off at this point,” she asked.

She said wearing masks is harming the children, with some suffering from anxiety. Masks hide emotions, she said, and children need smiles.

She cited other districts that aren’t requiring masks and said that she has spoken to teachers and staff who are too afraid to complain about masks.

Burpo also contended the district is quarantining more students than required by the Jasper County Health Department.

Rossetti said the district follows is in contact daily with the health department and is following its guidelines.

He said the “mask mandate rationale is to keep kids in school.”

No decision regarding masks has been made for next school year, he said, but if the downward trend of cases continues the policy will be revamped. “Things change rapidly,” he added.

As of May 7, the district was reporting that three students had tested positive and 30 (17 in the high school) were quarantined. There were no staff infections, but six were quarantined.

It was mentioned that 50% of the staff have been vaccinated.

Board President Stephen Crane thanked the group for sharing its information.

SUMMER SCHOOL

Later in the meeting, Rossetti said masks will be recommended but not mandatory during summer school.

The difference, he said, is that summer school attendance is not compulsory – it’s a choice. Also, the number of infections is going down and vaccinations are available.

Unlike last year, parents can send kids to school on the bus, and there will be field trips.

Brenten Byrd, assistant superintendent of instruction, reported that summer school enrollment so far is somewhat lower than it was at this time last year. It was pointed out that parents may have been more eager to get kids out of the house then because school had been closed for two months because of the pandemic.

Summer school will be in session from Thursday, June 3, through Wednesday, June 30. Enrollment can be done at each school now through the end of classes on May 28.

In other action, the board:

  • Heard Josh Flora, high school principal, report his staff is working with a handful of seniors to earn enough credits to graduate. It’s possible the class of 2021 will number 300 by commencement, which will be at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Heard the last of the annual school presentations from principals and staff members from Webster Primary Center, Harry S Truman Elementary, Bess Truman Primary Center and Franklin.
  • Accepted resignations from:

– Samantha Williams, second grade teacher at Truman Elementary.

– Lindsey Viets, high school communication arts teacher.

– Karly Drake, Title I instructional coach at Carterville Elementary.

– Kerri Roy, fourth grade teacher at Eugene Field Elementary.

– Paul Frederick, high school communication arts teacher.

  • Accepted recommendations to hire:

– Amber Stevens, second grade at Carterville.

– Peter Mackenzie Sams, junior high math and science.

– Brian May, art at Webster Primary.

– Brandy Weston, middle school special education.

– Monica Ballay, speech language pathologist at Webster.

– Emily Wilson, speech language pathologist at Eugene Field.

– Erin Wilson, high school English.

– C. Scott Bailey, junior high weights.

– Andrea Dicharry, junior high special education.

– Meredith Belrose, second grade, Harry S Truman.

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