Southland School District to continue program despite funding issues

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CARDWELL, Mo. -- Although funding issues are causing several programs to be trimmed or eliminated in districts across the state, the Southland School Board voted to continue one of its programs that is normally funded in part by the state.

According to Superintendent Raymond Lasley, during the board's meeting last week, Jennifer Barr, chairperson for the Career Ladder Committee, presented the Career Ladder Plan, which was approved by the board. Career Ladder is a program that pays teachers to do things over and above their contracted time.

Lasley said the Career Ladder Plan is a combination of plans from the 16 teachers who qualify for the program.

"Each teacher writes a plan to do at least 60 hours of work outside of their contract," Lasley said, adding that those hours include tasks such as tutoring, summer school, library duties, etc.

"The overall plan is for teachers to do outside contract work in direct contact with the kids," he said.

Lasley said the Career Ladder stipend is $1,500 per teacher. The district pays between 20 and 40 percent per teacher and the state pays the rest, he said.

According to Lasley, the Career Ladder Program is a non-funded item in the 2010-2011 state budget, however, the board agreed to continue the district's contribution to the program "even if the state doesn't pay its part."

Lasley said board also heard a presentation by the Professional Development Committee chairperson, Debra Gray, who spoke about the importance of continuing professional development as it relates to student achievement.

Lasley said Gray spoke about the importance of continuing professional development because, "There is much talk and consideration in the state legislature about cutting professional development funding."

Following the presentations, Lasley gave his report to the board, discussing the current state of state finances.

"The state projects a $43 million shortfall in revenues for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends in June," Lasley said. "The projected sate revenue shortfall for fiscal year 2011 is between $500 million and $800 million. The state's lack of revenue will adversely affect Southland."

Lasley said that it is doubtful that Southland will offer summer school this June, as the district is seeking to reduce its annual operating budget by $300,000. Cutting summer school would result in a savings of $49,000, which, when combined with previous cuts, would put the district at about $292,000 of the $300,000 goal.

Also during the meeting, the old board was dissolved and two board members were sworn in. Doug Kemmett was sworn in as a returning board member and Dale McClelland was sworn in as a mew board member, replacing Brad Williams who had served on the board for 12 years. Williams chose not to run for re-election.

The board the elected its new officers. Derrick Higgins was selected as board president; Jeff Wilson was selected as vice president; Lonnie Gibson, Jr., was selected as treasurer; and Doug Kemmett was selected as secretary.

In other matters, the board:

* Adopted the 2010-2011 school calendar;

* Purchased a zero-turn mower from Bucks Equipment at Paragould, Ark., in the amount of $9,640.

* Voted to continue the summer feeding program for Cardwell and Arbyrd, Mo., regardless of the district's decision on summer school. The summer feeding program is funded through the Department of Health.

In executive session, the board voted to employ all non-certified staff.

"Because of the state cutbacks, some of the workers hours were decreased," Lasley said. "Some workers were reassigned to different positions."

Also during executive session, Lasley said the board decided to honor the request that the teachers who were non-renewed last month be paid for their unused sick days.

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