Purdy school board moves forward on building plan

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bids will be opened on Dec. 19 for the proposed new additions to the Purdy High School campus. School board members reviewed plans for the proposal with architect Jared Younglove at their Nov. 18 meeting.

According to Anna Marie Erwin, board secretary, the proposed construction will be bid as two projects: renovating the north entrance to the gym and making changes to the cafeteria, which involves moving the concession stand and public bathrooms plus adding a new library on the west side of the school's central hallway, replacing classrooms located in trailers.

No cost of the project was discussed in open session. Erwin said once bids are opened, the board will determine the scope of the project and how far to dip into funds reserved for construction. No bond issue will be sent to voters in April, 2014, seeking additional funding, she added.

Younglove, with Paragon Architecture, of Springfield, showed technical drawings for each part of the project. The new entrance will have a handrail for the ramp, as required for ramps at an 8 percent maximum grade. To meet fire codes, the new addition for the library and bathrooms will require a separate fire wall.

Superintendent Dr. Steven Chancellor noted that bids will provide a price to upgrade the school's fire alert system, which is no longer in compliance with codes. The heating and cooling system for the cafeteria, which has long been uncomfortable, will be upgraded and the condensing units replaced.

Younglove explained a new drain would go in the courtyard outside the gym entrance, piped in with the storm sewer system to avoid future rain accumulation. The commons area ceiling will be replaced in the project.

On other facilities matters, Chancellor told board members talks had started with the Pierce City and Verona school officials about sharing a common employee to maintain heating and air conditioning systems. Chancellor said Purdy has 60 units, Pierce City has 55, Verona has 45 and Monett has around 240. The practicality of sharing one person for such a load raises issues over priorities and how to leverage resources, he added.

Board action

Board members approved renewing insurance through the Missouri United School Insurance Council (MUSIC). Chancellor said the invoice dropped by $1,700. The total premium of $66,157 included adding $2.5 million in umbrella coverage, as requested last year by the board.

Board members hired Margo Schlessman for the food service department, filling a vacancy due to a recent death.

Old agriculture equipment that Chancellor deemed as "junk" and not worth advertising received a surplus property designation. Chancellor received clearance to dispose of the material as scrap.

New policies submitted by the Missouri Consultants for Educators (MCE) received approval. Corresponding policies previously submitted by the Missouri School Boards Association were deleted. Chancellor distributed more policies on administrative procedures for review at the next meeting.

A detailed job description was approved for custodians. Chancellor planned to complete descriptions for each position and produced the description as an opening had to be filled.

Program review

A large part of the meeting was spent discussing the Readers Workshop program with Donna Terry, who is overseeing the initiative, and teachers Linda Patton and Dixie Henry. Terry described how the strategy uses a visualization technique, along with a workshop model. Children meeting in small groups provide peer tutoring in addition to meeting individually to read to the teacher.

Terry described how one third grade boy, who had been declared "hopeless" by his previous school, began reading after three days on the program. She credited the breakthrough to the visual associations he was able to make. She praised the board for making the investment inthe program, including the purchase of iPads.

Patton, who has taught for 28 years, said she has never had a group of students as motivated about reading as her current class using the Readers Workshop approach. Each child has a tub of their own library books from which they can read. The children are eager to start reading as soon as class begins and will even do topical research at home, she added.

Students have used the iPads to create couplet poems and created a PowerPoints presentation to illustrate what they learned on their "continents and oceans" lesson.

"This makes learning so much more fun," Patton added.

Administrative reports

Chancellor reported he had been contacted by Blake Naughton, an associate professor with the Hook Center at the University of Missouri, about participating in an effort to better measure improvement at the school. The Missouri Network for Educational Improvement is proposing tracking progress using the Balrige criteria, a strategy Chancellor studied in writing his doctoral dissertation.

Principal Jeff Swadley reported applications covering 61 children have been received for the holiday Angel Tree effort. Swadley said the number has swelled by 10 to 15 because of needs among non-school-age children. Last year he had volunteers seek to adopt some children for the program after the usual time frame and he hoped that kind of generosity would help reach out to the larger number this year.

Enrollment remains at 269 at the elementary school. 189 at the middle school and 196 at the high school. Parent attendance at parent-teacher conferences hit 92 percent at the elementary level and from 40 to 63 percent at the middle school.

The next school board meeting will be on Dec. 16.

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