Driver's Ed cut, budget options weighed in Bernie School District

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

BERNIE, Mo.--"It's become a reality," were the words of Bernie Superintendent John Boyd at Monday night's April meeting of the Board of Education, referring to the statewide budget cuts that have threatened local school districts over the past several months.

Nearly every aspect of Monday night's meeting of the board seemed to focus on funding, or the lack of funding, for the 2010-11 school year.

It will not be known until early May whether area schools, including Bernie, will receive funding for a summer school session this year. Should the funding come through, there is a possibility among several schools that only classes for remediation purposes will be held, rather than be open to all students.

With the forewarning of limited funds on the table, board members addressed the issue of whether to continue offering a driver's education program in June.

"It's difficult to look at cutting summer school or just hold it for remediation purposes, and then spend thousands of dollars on driver's education," said Board Member Ann Zoll.

Other board members agreed and in the end, they voted unanimously to eliminate Bernie's driver's education program from the agenda this summer. The program may be reinstated as funding allows in the future.

Several members of Bernie's Certified Teachers Association attended Monday night's meeting. The Association's salary committee chair Susan Pfeffer addressed the board with concerns regarding the district's policy, which assures an increase in pay in graduating increments for years of service.

Addressed at the same time was the district's policy with regard to the lateral salary schedule movement for 2011. The scale advances salaries commensurate with furthering education. The system awards teachers by increasing their annual salaries once they have completed their masters degree and beyond.

Pfeffer served as an example of a teacher who would be affected by dropping the incentive.

"I am about to complete my master's degree and yet not only will I not be receiving the increase in pay that was promised," she said. "But now I have student loans to pay off for those additional hours."

The board listened to several options presented by the salary committee, intended to "soften the blow" should the district sign off on the step measure. The suggestions included the removal of provisions for personal day use, the options for staff to "dress down" more often on school days, the discretion of faculty when using bereavement days, and maintaining spring break rather than using the days for inclement weather make-up days.

Following some discussion and weighing a few of the options, the board decided to wait until May's meeting to determine the future of the salary incentives. The suggestion met with unanimous approval, and the salary issues were tabled until May.

"The outlook is bleak," Boyd told the board and the audience of teachers Monday night. "I just don't foresee it improving."

Sworn in for another term in office Monday evening were David Blevins, who will again serve as president of the board, and Ronnie Owens, who fills the role of vice president. Freed will remain board secretary, treasurer and custodian of records, and Rhonda Shipman will continue to serve the district as alternate secretary/treasurer.

In other business, the board:

* accepted trusteeship of The Academic Excellence Teacher Memorial Scholarship.

* approved of a senior class trip to Memphis and of a junior class trip to St. Louis for students who sold an adequate amount of magazines during the school's recent fundraiser.

* approved the evaluations of the vocational and A+ programs.

* accepted the resignation of Ronnie Shipman, the district's Agriculture Instructor, who has accepted a position at Dexter Schools for the coming year.

During executive session the board rehired all classified staff. Additionally, Melissa Marquis was assigned to senior cheerleading sponsor. Taryn Yeager will sponsor Junior High cheerleading. Stephanie Reynolds was named to Junior High volleyball coach. Pam Foster was named to varsity Quiz Bowl sponsor. Amber Stevens was named to JV Quiz Bowl sponsor. Sal Higgins was named to Jr. High Beta Club sponsor. Brian Jones and Lindsay Baxter will be sharing the duties of elementary volleyball coach.

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