2 teacher resignations accepted | 2 teachers hired | no high school principal yet

The Rock Port R-II School board held its regular scheduled meeting on March 21, 2018, in the board room. Present were Afton Schomburg, Ken Miller, Jeremy Davis, Harold Lawrence, Dan Lucas, and Clay Vogler. Also present were Elementary Principal Steve Waigand, High School Principal Ethan Sickels, Superintendent Craig Walker, Board Secretary Debbie Young, Jennifer Geib, Marty Farley, Kari Amthor, W.C. Farmer, Debbie Farr and Kim Becker with Lunchtime Solutions, and Lisa Fiorino with OPAA.
Board President Rich Dewhirst called the meeting to order. Minutes were approved for the special meeting on February 1, 2018, calendar hearing and regular meeting for February 8, 2018, special meeting for March 1, 2018, and special meeting, March 2, 2018. Mr. Walker went over the financial information and the board approved the transfer for funds. Bills for February and March to date were approved.
Elementary Principal Mr. Waigand opened his report with third grade teachers Kari Amthor and Jennifer Geib giving a report on what they are currently working on in class. Mr. Waigand reported February attendance was 95.8% (181 students). The elementary has been busy, the Student Council held their own version of the Olympics, Read Across America, the Book Fair, McTeacher’s Night was held on March 13, and a STEM showcase was March 12. Evaluations for the Talented and Gifted program wrapped up and three students have qualified for the program. (See the full principal’s report on the Atchison County Mail’s online edition.)
Mr. Sickels gave an update as to the activities going on in the junior high and high school. December attendance for the JH and HS was 95.27%, and enrollment for grades 7 – 12 is 156. On March 2, the Atchison County Sheriff’s Department hosted Allyson Pereira, a speaker on anti-bullying and sexting awareness. Schools in attendance were Rock Port, Tarkio, Fairfax, Craig and Mound City. FCCLA members Hannah Miller, Kelcie Gaines and Beth Davis qualified for Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. Students participated in County Band Day held in Fairfax. County Government Day was held on March 12 at the courthouse. Mr. Sickels attended the Northwest Principal’s meeting and ‘Launch’ was discussed. This is a learning platform created by Springfield Schools to help with offering more programs online. Currently, they are offering 70 and by the fall of 2018 they expect to be up to 90 programs. This would be similar to the ITV program that the school has used in previous years. The JH and HS are currently looking at the math curriculum. The current math curriculum is not meeting the standards. (See full report on AC Mail’s online edition.)
Mr. Walker gave his report starting with the recognition of Mr. Waigand being selected as the Northwest Exemplary New Principal of the Year. April 5, Devon Sons will be talking to parents and community members who would like to attend, about the different things he has been teaching the staff and students in the area schools in regards to the school shootings that are going on around the country. The septic tank at the bus barn is having some issues and they are being addressed. The school is looking at weight room access and Mr. Walker has talked with Jason Watkins about solutions. Discussion about summer school was held and the expenses associated with it. Previously summer school was a money maker but now it is a big expense. Total cost to the district is $36,466 and total revenue is $10,587, costing the district $25,879. Board President Rich Dewhirst attended the TABS meeting this last month. He conveyed some of the concerns expressed by both the students and staff.
The board proceeded to address several items of new business. Consideration was given to the food service bids for the 2018-2019 school year with action taken to approve the bid from OPAA, which was $20,000 less than Lunchtime Solutions. Action was taken to approve the group medical insurance plans for 2018-2019, which have all increased, and to amend the school calendar changing May 15 and 16 to full days and May 18 and 21 to half days. Mr. Walker presented, and action was taken, to approve the 2018-2019 preliminary budget. Action was taken to approve the agreement with ELL Tower Solutions for $11,104 on reassessment of the taxes the county receives on the 16 cell towers that are in our district. Resignations were accepted from Chris Gebhards and Stacy Walker. The elementary hiring committee presented recommendations for two certificated staff openings, and action was taken to employ Shelby Garst and Rachel Stanton for the 2018-2019 school year, six in favor and one against. The administration recommended, and action was taken, to approve contracts for all non-tenured and part-time certificated staff members for the 2018-2019 school year. Mr. Sickels gave a report on the high school principal vacancy, and stated he will have a recommendation for the April meeting. Due to a conflict with the FFA banquet, action was taken to change the date of the April organizational and regular meeting of the Board of Education to April 11, 2018 at 7 p.m. The meeting was then adjourned.
Editor’s note: I was bothered by the fact that a school board member voted ‘no’ on the Hiring Committee’s recommendation to fill the elementary teaching positions. This was the wrong message to send. There was no discussion nor any questions asked. Maybe you don’t agree with the process. If so, then have some discussion and create some dialogue, but don’t just vote no. That is unfair to those individuals who were recommended and the Hiring Committee. For that matter, you could have abstained if there was a conflict.