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SW board discusses policy items

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Southwest R-V School Board approved the Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) board policy updates with a six-to-one vote on Nov. 10.

Richard Asbill, Southwest superintendent, distributed copies of the board policy updates to all members in October.

The issue was tabled in order to give board member Janet Ballard time to read all of the policies and present questions to advisors at the MSBA conference.

Although Ballard agreed to accept most of the board policy updates, she asked for several additions to the board ethics policy.

"After 'obey the laws of Missouri and the United States' I would like to add 'and make sure policies that are approved are in accordance with these laws,'" said Ballard.

Robert Catron voiced concern for the addition by stating that it is against the law to tell someone on the street that they can't dress a certain way, but the board would still need to enforce a dress code.

Ballard also questioned the legalities of the proposed random drug testing policy.

"The final draft of the drug testing policy will be sent to MSBA and the school district's attorney," said Danny Dalton, board president.

"What's wrong with doing that with all our policies," said Ballard. "Let's go the extra mile and make sure we aren't asking our administration to do something against the law."

Other additions on Ballard's list included:

• "Make every effort to attend the annual MSBA conference."

• "Each member must continually set goals, evaluate and hold the superintendent accountable."

• "Let parents know we appreciate and encourage their participation in their child's education."

• "Realizing that you can support parents' concerns and still be supportive of our staff as we work together to resolve problems."

• "Refrain from adding agenda items so that members will not be blindsided or not prepared for discussion."

• "Make sure agenda items pertain to the school system and education of our children. Never allow guests to speak on topics for their own personal agenda or represent special interest."

"The attorney's at MSBA review these policies," said board member Judy Friend. "I'm okay with them."

The board voted six-to-one to pass the board policy updates as presented in the packet with no revisions. Ballard voted against the updates.

Asbill presented the annual performance report and explained the improvements made in the Southwest School District over the last four years.

In 2002, Southwest scored 61 out of 100 on the performance report. After a core curriculum improvement plan was implemented, the district's performance score rose to 77 points in 2003.

Southwest School District needed to raise the levels of ACT scores, students attending college programs after high school and daily attendance. Students were being allowed to take performance arts and other elective classes before fulfilling academic necessities, said Asbill.

"Last year we could really see things working, and each building raised attendance to 90 percent or higher," said Asbill. "The high school had a 97.1 attendance rate."

In the past two years, the Southwest School District has scored at or above 82 points.

In 2005, Southwest met the reading index, ACT, vocational, college, vocational placement, drop-out rate and attendance requirements on the performance report, said Asbill.

"We know that we can achieve at least 91 points next year. 91 is something Southwest has not seen," said Asbill. "We might get the other nine points and achieve 100. Over the last three or four years, Southwest has seen significant improvements.

"The teachers have worked hard. Your children have really done well," said Asbill. "Celebrate, but be realistic and realize we must stay on task with the improvements or we're going to regress."

Friend, who participated in the meeting by speaker phone, voiced concerns over American Girl books' connection with Girls Inc.

"Southwest has several American Girl books in the library. They are good books," said Friend. "Here's my concern. American Girl is now selling 'I Can' bracelets."

The I Can bracelets are $1 each and 70 cents from every bracelet is donated to Girls Inc., said Friend.

"Girls Inc. shares values that I'm not sure our parents want their kids to be a part of," said Friend. "Girls Inc. supports abortion, contraception and sexual orientation.

"I'm going to deny my daughter the option to read those books," said Friend. "My conscious won't let my kids read them. I would like the board's thoughts and to give the parents an opportunity to say yes or no."

"We don't require any one to read a certain book," said Judy Randall, elementary principal. "We can have this be their parent's preference."

"We will go through the book review process," said Asbill.

Vicki Enyart, high school principal, reported that a counseling resource guide is being developed for the proposed random drug testing policy.

"I haven't forgotten about the policy," said Enyart. "I just want to make sure you receive a quality product."

Ballard discussed alter-native drug testing options that she learned of at the MSBA conference.

"Some are looking at videos instead of drug testing," said Ballard. "It seemed interesting and looked like an option.

"Another thing they mentioned was breathalyzers," said Ballard. "Everyone that walks into the door gets to breath and you are not singling out a certain group. They said the parents liked it and only a percentage of the parents were for the drug testing."

"We will look at all options," said Enyart.



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