Purdy school board looks at new strategic plan

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Photo by Murray Bishoff R-2 Board members sworn in The Purdy R-2 School Board welcomed back Ed Mareth for a second term on the board and greeted Todd Schallert, the only candidate to file for the remaining vacancy. Pictured from left, board secretary Anna Marie Erwin administered the oath of office to Mareth and Schallert.

The Purdy R-2 School Board re-elected its leaders and approved a new strategic plan at its April meeting.

With only two candidates running, the Purdy district did not need to hold an election for school board seats on April 2. Ed Mareth took the oath of office for a second term, as did first-time candidate Todd Schallert. Board secretary Anna Marie Erwin administered the oath.

Board members unanimously re-elected Randy Henderson as board president and Ronnie Veith as vice president.

Superintendent Dr. Stephen Chancellor unveiled a five-year strategic plan, a project he initiated. Chancellor said around 75 community members participated in meetings that began last fall to identify the four strategies in the plan. Committees then formed to develop action plans.

"I think this is a quality document, well thought out and well prepared," Chancellor said. "Some ideas were so good that we started doing them already."

Board members adopted the plan. Chancellor recommended revisiting the in subsequent years to incorporate updates.

The first strategy called for examining facilities to ensure an appropriate, efficient and safe environment. Specific facilities improvements targeted include: remodeling restrooms in the elementary and high schools; increasing the number of exterior lights; increase the height of the fences around each playground; remodel the entryway to the high school gym; increasing the capacity of the cafeteria; removing the trailers; upgrading the baseball and softball facilities; installing carpet and area rugs in elementary classrooms; purchasing a protective floor covering for the high school gym and upgrading the elementary gym and floor.

Other facilities action plans covered a proactive maintenance strategy; increasing parking around the schools; increasing energy efficiency in all buildings; building a storm shelter in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a bus building.

Safety strategies covered adding a full-time school resource officer; establishing a direct line to 911; installing a card reader entrance system for all buildings; increasing security cameras inside and outside the buildings as well as on buses; and increasing the visibility of the middle school office.

The second strategy for improving staff called for increasing base pay, revising the extra duty pay process, providing professional development for all positions and structuring a mentoring program for new certified teachers and non-certified positions.

The third strategy, to improve teaching and learning, proposed setting up a reading program for all grades, along with instruction in post-high school goals such as problem solving and critical thinging. Re-culturing a positive nurturing environment and infusing technology into instructional programs were also listed.

The final strategy focused on collaboration with the community, which has included establishing an alumni Hall of Fame and a "golden age" dinner. Setting up an exterior electronic message board, seeking ways to get patron feedback, developing walking trails throughout the campus for public use and partnering with local groups to make Purdy a more attractive destination were listed as goals.

To help specific student groups, the plan recommended establishing an after-school care program for early learners and a student-adult mentoring program for at-risk students. The plan calls for establishing an education foundation to provide additional financial assistance for innovative and creative programs.

Personnel action

Board members voted to extend letters of intent to rehire all non-certified staff for the 2013-14 school year.

Bids were reviewed for auditing services, the first time bids had been taken in many years. Five firms submitted proposals. Chancellor got a list from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to compare services.

The board voted to switch firms and hired the low bidder, Benton CPA, of Cassville, for a first-year cost of $4,300.

With the end of snow days, board members voted to make April 19 a half-day of school, allowing the last day of classes on Friday, May 17, rather than the following Monday.

Additional information came too late during the month on the elementary school roof. At Chancellor's recommendation, the board rescinded its previous action hiring a firm to conduct an inspection then recommend a course of action.

At the request of the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC), board members approved a memorandum of understanding for use in seeking funding. OACAC provides transportation for pre-school services.

Principals reports

Middle school principal Janet Boys reported half the fifth graders received testing for cholesterol through Cox Monett Hospital's Cardiac Kids program. Of those, 45 percent had mild or high risk numbers in their body mass index (BMI) report. Three re-tested from last year and all showed significant improvement.

Purdy's entry in the annual Joplin Globe spelling bee, Shana Whisman, placed fourth, the highest showing for a Purdy student in years.

One of the middle school's basketball teams cheered on a mentally challenged player on their opponent's team as he scored. The incident prompted an outpouring of approval in social media and a thank you message from the boy's mother sent to Purdy.

Elementary principal Jeff Swadley reported 24 of the 40 fourth graders who scored in the advanced or proficient range on last year's state standardized MAP tests. As a reward, the students received a celebration trip to the Cassville Bowling Alley.

High school principal Bob Vice reported on the year-end schedule, culminating with baccalaureate on May 8 and commencement exercises on May 11 at 7 p.m., both in the school gym. He noted the high school gave all required and voluntary end-of-course exams this year.

The board will next meet on May 20.

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