Purdy schools approve personnel changes

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Strategy approved for seeking new superintendent

The Purdy school board recently lined up personnel for the coming year and scheduled summer school and adopted a calendar for the coming school year.

The board rehired its remaining administrators, Elementary Principal Julie Dalton, High School Principal Derek Banwart and Associate Superintendent Mindi Gates.

Board members voted to hire the Missouri Association of Retired Educators to lead the search to find a successor for Superintendent Steven Chancellor, who has taken the job as superintendent in Centralia in northeast Missouri, succeeding Darin Ford, who is retiring after 12 years in the position. Chancellor said the relocation places him within an hour's distance to much of his family.

“You've done a lot for us,” Board President Todd Schallert said to Chancellor. “You've definitely left this place better than when you got here. Thank you.”

The board accepted a resignation from Lacy Nelson, secondary math teacher, and special education teacher Nicole Knatcal, as well as retirements from teachers Mark Trent, who most recently has run the Missouri Option Program for the district, and Cheryl Ulmer, Title 1 reading instructor.

New hires included Lisa Essly as an English language learner teacher in the elementary school, who replaces Edie Thompson, who is retiring. Essly has been working for the district as a paraprofessional and previously taught in Monett. Julianna Beaty, a recent Evangel University graduate, was hired as high school band teacher. She has been a long-term substitute in the district.

Moving to tenured positions this year are teachers Ashley Brown, business and technology; Steve Courter, Title 1 communications arts; Abbi Coy, fifth grade; Clint Dillow, high school science; Mary Nunley, third grade; and Amanda Rinehart, family and consumer sciences.

The remaining 18 probationary teachers and 27 tenured teachers were extended contracts for the coming year. Also hired were Lisa Essly as an English language learners teacher at the elementary school

That left the district seeking two special education teachers, and teachers for secondary math for the coming year.

In other personnel issues, the board approved new language in contracts for certified staff. The language for the principals was tabled for adjustment. Chancellor explained the language was written for a 12-month contract, and the district employs its principals on a 10.5- or 11-month basis, so he would have to make changes to fit the local situation.

At Chancellor's recommendation, the board approved a buyout policy for teachers who opt to leave after May. Historically, certified staff are hired for the coming year in March, and some opt to take jobs with other districts after that, reducing the district's chances of finding a qualified replacement. Following a practice similar to other districts, Chancellor recommended late departures should bear a $1,000 deduction in pay for resigning in June, $2,000 in July and $3,000 in August. The new school year's payroll starts in September.

“The buyout really just protects us from a person wanting to leave just because something better has come along,” Chancellor said. “In unusual circumstances, the employee could request the Board of Education waive the fee, and that could possibly be granted.”

He recalled that in his seven years at Purdy, three or four teachers had asked to be released in the later time frame. In a case where a teacher's spouse was in the military and faced a transfer, Chancellor said the board would have the option to pass on the penalty.

Board members opted to renew the four health insurance plans offered through the Missouri Educators Trust, with a premium increase of 5.3 percent, which the district would absorb. Chancellor said he expected an even higher rate boost. A new dental and vision plan was also approved at a locked in rate for the next five years. The policy offered better coverage, he added, and the extended period made planning easier.

As for upcoming scheduling, the single snow day lost, reset for another day, was rescheduled for March 25, shortening what would have been a four-day weekend.

Mindi Gates reported Spring Title 1 Night will be held on April 8 for kindergarten through sixth grade. Older students will register for classes for the coming year that night in the gym. High school students will take end of course exams at the high school during the last two weeks in April. Missouri Achievement Program (MAP) tests will be taken by grades three to eight from the last week in April through May 10.

Summer school was set for May 22 through June 19. The last day will be a half-day only, Chancellor said.

The 2019-2020 school calendar was adopted, closely following the Monett district's calendar to match classes offered at the Scott Regional Technology Center. Teachers will return to work for in-service sessions on Aug. 7. Open House will be on Aug. 8, and classes begin on Aug. 13. The big difference, Chancellor noted, was dropping spring break and taking sporadic long weekends instead. Breaks in September and October will be combined with teacher in-services for four-day weekends, and four-day weekends planned in March and April. Thanksgiving will have a three-day break. Classes will still be in recess for two weeks over Christmas. Commencement was set for May 9 and the last day of classes on May 15.

Chancellor reported representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted their review of the district's new shelter/performing arts center on March 15 and had no issues. He called that “a big milestone” for the district. With the Night of Excellence and National Honor Society induction held in the hall, Chancellor said he was making a list of additional supplies needed for the building, including more tables and chairs.

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