Twin Rivers board discusses overcrowding

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BROSELEY, Mo.--Fisk campus currently has nearly 40 percent more students than the Qulin campus, according to information presented to Twin Rivers School District board members at last night's monthly meeting.

Superintendent Mike Stevenson asked board members what direction they wished to take regarding overcrowding at Fisk.

The board voted in September to temporarily hire three new teachers at Fisk because student-teacher ratios were higher than at the Qulin campus. These numbers must be similar for the district to receive $250,000 in Title I funding.

Fisk currently has 408 students, while Qulin has 262.

Classrooms and special services have been moved, but space is still cramped, Stevenson said, with one program now being held in a storage room.

Board members reviewed options discussed in September, including moving band classes to the gymnasium stage, purchasing modular classrooms, moving boundary lines or constructing a junior high at Broseley for seventh and eighth grade students.

"We still have some stimulus money and could purchase modular buildings," Stevenson said.

This would be less expensive than constructing a permanent building at Fisk, he said, especially if board members want to consider relocating some grades.

"We're spending a lot of money to keep from moving," said board member Charlie Bunting. "Sooner or later, it's going to happen."

Seventh and eighth grade sports are already played at the high school, said board member Jill Worley. Board member Linda Goldschmidt asked Stevenson to research the district's options.

JUNIOR HIGH BASEBALL

Stevenson discussed consolidating junior high baseball teams from Fisk and Qulin during his superintendent's report.

Qulin has lacked enough players for a team in the last year, Stevenson said.

He suggested the teams be combined, with games and practices to be held at the Fisk campus. Two five-inning games would be played to give everyone a chance to play.

This would work best, Stevenson said, because the coach who will likely take over the program is already at the Qulin campus and would be able to bus students to Fisk.

"If we have a large group come up at Qulin in the next couple of years and want to separate the teams, it will be easier," Stevenson said.

Some board members indicated they understand why a change is necessary. Barker said it would be easier to justify maintaining two fields if there were more players at Qulin.

MEETING PROCEDURE

Board members voted 3-2 to change policy regarding the question/comments from the public portion of their monthly meetings. Under the new policy, members of the public will have to contact the superintendent one week prior to the meeting and provide information about what they wish to discuss at the meeting.

Board members Bill Hirtz, Goldschmidt and Charlie Barker approved the measure, while Worley and Bunting voted against the change. Board members Don Eubanks and Donna Sue Ashcraft-Fincher were absent.

"We're not trying to stop people from speaking out, but we want to have a chance to find out about what it is they come in to complain about," Stevenson said.

TRUANCY COURT

Stevenson updated the board on area school districts' progress in creating a truancy court. Six of the seven superintendents in Ripley and Butler counties met in October with three local judges to discuss the court.

Students with excessive absences and their parents would appear regularly before a truancy court judge, who would work with the family to resolve issues regarding their absenteeism.

"All of the superintendents were very hopeful. They would like to see this come about," said Stevenson.

Goldschmidt commented that is was a good idea, while Barker added this was a long time coming.

INSURANCE

The district has not received property and liability insurance bids from companies other than its current provider, MUSIC, Stevenson told the board. The board must renew the insurance in December.

MUSIC rates would remain the same for the next year, although premiums have increased some due to increase in the appraisal of building contents, Stevenson said. The district has added technology this year, including SmartBoards and computers.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, THE BOARD:

* Set the next board meeting for 12:30 p.m. Dec. 16.

* Approved school board filing dates for Dec. 15 to Jan. 19. The current terms of Goldschmidt and Bunting expire in April.

* Heard a program review for gifted program TRACE. Program goals are that all members score advanced or proficient on the MAP test. Scores from the last school year show that 85 percent did in communication arts and 93 percent did in math.

* Approved Dylan Garner and Keaton Craft for early graduation.

* The board added a real estate issue to the closed session agenda. No motions were made in executive session.

* Worley questioned athletic fund budgets. Gate money is used to pay sport event costs, such as referees. Any remaining funds are placed into the account for the campus that generated the money, according to administrators.

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