R-I board votes unanimously to oppose SB. 55

The Palmyra R-I Board of Education took a rare move during their meeting last week, voting to adopt a resolution opposing a senate bill which would take money from public schools.

The board adopted the resolution during their meeting last week, at which they also  extended contracts to four and offered contracted to three, heard a report on the A+ program, heard an update on the Lenzini Basketball Tournament and approved next year’s calendar.

According to Superintendent Kirt Malone, Senate Bill 55 is sponsored by the Northeast Missouri State Senator, Cindy O’Laughin and will take massive amounts of tax dollars away from public schools, and funnel that money to private schools in St. Louis, newly formed charter schools in St. Louis and Kansas City, as well as out of state virtual school companies. 

“The vast majority of students in Northeast Missouri go to school in high performing public schools that rely on state tax dollars for funding,” according to the resolution. “The result of SB 55 would be to take our tax dollars away from public schools, creating a greater burden on our local community to support student learning in our schools.”

It was further noted Missouri schools already rank among the bottom five states in the United States for public education funding from the state, and in the top five states in the United States for local tax burden to support public schools.

Because of that the board unanimously approved a resolution opposing Senate Bill 55.

“The school board rarely issues a resolution, and usually happens to commemorate a special occasion or event,” said Malone, noting an area school board member contacted the school board presidents throughout Northeast Missouri to ask if they would be interested in supporting a common resolution opposing SB 55 as it is intended to be harmful to  all public schools. “Our school board is unanimous in their opposition to SB 55”

In that resolution, the board is asking concerned individuals to contact O’Laughlin’s office at 573-751-7985 or email at [email protected] to express their opposition to the bill.

“Our board meeting was scheduled early in the month and we will soon see other school boards follow suit across the area,” Malone added.

In other legislative news, Malone reported the school received notice that ESSER II funds will be distributed to schools later this spring. 

“ESSER II is a COVID relief bill passed into legislation in late December, 2020,” he said. “Palmyra R-I is eligible to receive approximately $600,000 to offset costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds can be used through September, 2023.”

Those expenses include:

• any activity authorized by ESEA, IDEA, AEFLA, PERKINS or McKinney Vento;

• coordination of preparedness and response efforts  to COVID-19;

• procedures and systems to improve LEA preparedness and response efforts;

• training and professional development for LEA staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious disease;

• purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean LEA facilities;

• purchasing educational technology for students;

• providing mental health services and supports; and

• school facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards

In other business, the board extended by one year the contracts of Jared Pontius, high school principal; Brian Wosman, activities director/transportation director and middle school dean of students; Larry Seago, high school assistant principal/A+ coordinator and curriculum director; and Kinsey Cissna, special programs director.

They also offered contracts for the 2021-22 school year to Bridgette Augspurg, elementary principal; Marty Smyser, elementary assistant principal; and Steven Kerr, middle school principal

Larry Seago reported on curriculum work throughout the district as  well as the A+ program. 

Currently, there are 247 students enrolled in the A+ program. Last year the district had 64 students graduate with A+ distinction. Several of those students used their A+ funds at Moberly Area Community College and Mizzou-MACC. 

Many other students attend four-year universities where they receive scholarships for completing their A+ program at Palmyra R-I, Seago said. 

In order for students to receive A+ distinction they must fulfill academic, behavioral and attendance requirements.

Malone updated the board on the 78th annual Tony Lenzini Basketball Tournament, noting the weather was good this year but attendance was down due to COVID restrictions.

Palmyra boys played for first place and the Palmyra girls played for third place.

The board adopted the 2021-2022 calendar.

The calendar reflects a starting date of Aug. 23 and ending date of May 25. Teacher in-service days are scheduled the first Monday of the months.

The Palmyra School Board was recognized by MSBA in celebration of Missouri School Board Recognition Month through School Board Recognition Week Feb. 14-20. 

According to the recognition, “Missourians benefit every day from the dedicated energies and countless hours devoted by a group of more than 3,600 men and women from communities across the state. These public servants are elected by local constituents and do not receive compensation for their tireless efforts. They are the local school board members of Missouri.”

The goal of School Board Recognition Week is to “build awareness and understanding of the important function an elected board of education plays in communities and schools.” 

The board also approved health insurance renewal rates for the 2021-2022 school.

According to Malone, the district will see a 12.9 percent increase in health insurance premiums next year.

The board also:

• approved an amendment to Series 2020 lease certificates;

• approved the updated sub list as presented; and

• accepted the resignation of Darla Power as elementary school secretary.