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by Patty Cheffey
Families in the Palmyra R-I School District will have an opportunity to have their iPad fees waived, following action by the R-I Board of Education last week.
During their meeting, the board took care of several back to school issues, including approving the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction plan, approving amendments to the CSIP plan, approving several handbooks and hiring one paraprofessional.
They also set the annual tax rate hearing for Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 6:30 p.m.
For the second year in a row, families who fill out the free and reduced lunch application form will have their iPad fees waived.
In approving the 2022-2023 school year free and reduced lunch application form, the board also approved waiving the fee provided the lunch application form is turned into the district on or prior to Aug. 12.
“Last year, meals were free for all students, and schools were looking for ways to motivate families to turn in the forms because there was no actual financial benefit for the families to turn them in since all students were eating for free,” said Superintendent Jason Harper, explaining why the fees were waived last year. “We decided to extend the opportunity for our families a second year because personal costs for families are rising fast, and receiving just a handful of applications from families who qualify will more than cover the money lost by waiving the iPad fee.
“It helps both our families and the school district,” he added. “It’s a win-win situation.”
In other business, the board approved the Palmyra R-I School District Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan for 2022-2023.
This plan will need to be approved every six months through 2024 for the district to receive the federal ESSER funds allocated to the district.
“The plan was reviewed by our administrative team, Mrs. (Gigi) Lehenbauer, school nurse, and Crystal McWilliams, the Marion County Health supervisor,” said Harper, noting the updated plan is posted at the bottom of the front page of the school’s website, with the changes in blue font. “The primary changes are following guidance on social distancing and contact tracing from the Marion County Health Department and the State of Missouri rather than the CDC.
“We also put in stronger wording to encourage students to attend school unless it is evident they have symptoms.”
Two amendments, which were in the culture and climate portion of the CSIP plan, were approved by the board.
The first amendment CC1F will be focused on communication during disciplinary issues. The second amendment CC22D will create an avenue to notify parents when students are struggling in school.
The following handbooks were updated and approved: iPad handbook, athletic handbook, transportation handbook, coaches/sponsors handbook, elementary school student and staff handbook, middle school student and staff handbook and high school staff and student handbook.
The board hired Rita Little as a paraprofessional at the high school, which still leaves one high school paraprofessional needed, according to Harper.
All certified staff positions are filled and we are excited about that,” said Harper, noting there are many schools in our region still searching for certified teachers in core areas. “It is getting late enough in the summer that those schools are in a scary situation personnel wise.
New employee orientation is set for Aug. 3, and on that day the school will be introducing all new employees to the district with a tour of facilities, finalizing paperwork and insurance needs, and helping them understand all of the resources available to them as new staff members, he added.
Also during the meeting, the board set the annual board picnic for Aug. 16, 2022.