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Board Discusses Drop-Out Trends

by Rachel Dickerson | February 18, 2021 at 6:54 a.m.

At the Feb. 11 meeting of the McDonald County R-1 School District Board of Education, members asked high school principal Angie Brewer about the drop-out report.

Normally an item that is quickly approved at the beginning of the meeting, the drop-out report was brought up as being possibly attributed to students being quarantined multiple times. Brewer confirmed that some of the students who dropped out did so because they had been quarantined more than once, became frustrated with the process and decided to just get a job.

She also noted that she and the assistant principals have all tried to talk the students out of dropping out, going to visit with them in their homes to show their concern. She said no one just signs papers and leaves. Board president Frank Woods said he appreciates that the administration does not let students go without a fight.

Assistant Superintendent Joy Hardridge reported on the covid-19 quarantine situation in the district. She said, in January, 220 students were excluded from school and 75 were able to stay in school because of the district's mask mandate that applies to classes that transition.

Mitch Bozone of Schneider Electric gave an update on the projects the company is working on for the district. He said roofing materials have been ordered for Southwest City Elementary School, and the company plans to start on the roof on March 8 and to finish before spring break is over. He also said that, on one of the company's projects, it hit a gas line and has hired ground-penetrating radar to ensure that does not happen again.

Director of student services Kevin Benish reported on the district's annual vocational rehab work program, which gives juniors entering their senior year work experience during the summer. The program uses Anderson Elementary School as a worksite, along with Stangs and River Ranch, which is new to the program this year. Six students are allowed in the program, which is 120 hours. The students may work as a teacher's aide, cafeteria worker, custodial worker, groundskeeper, housekeeper, etc.

The board approved the district's participation in the program.

Director of operations Will Gordon requested permission to seek bus bids. He said the board has already alloted eight and he was seeking five -- four big buses and one small one that would not have a lift, which would reduce expense. He said it aligned with the budget.

Woods said the district was purchasing two buses a year and then, a few years ago, the former transportation director said the department needed 16 new buses, which the district could not afford. Since then, the district has been purchasing four buses a year to keep current, but at times needs to buy a few extras to keep up, he said.

Superintendent Mark Stanton said the district's bus leases total about $575,000 a year. The notes used to be five-year, but to get a lower interest rate, the district has been paying them off in four years, he said.

The board approved seeking bids for five new buses.

Also, Brewer presented four new courses for the high school. They were: principles of biomedical science, technical theater, an athletic program for students who want to go into coaching, and a sous chef class.

The board approved the new courses.

Stanton told the board that, in lieu of electing a teacher of the year for the district this year, he proposed something different.

"In light of what our teachers have gone through, it's difficult to pick a teacher because so many have gone above and beyond," he said.

He proposed that all teachers be named teachers of the year and that they be honored by receiving their last workday off.

The board agreed it was a good idea, but no vote was taken because it was an administrative issue.

Brewer reported that prom will be May 1, although the location is not yet determined, and graduation will be Sunday evening, May 16, with a backup date of Saturday, May 15, if it looks like it is going to be very rainy that Sunday.

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