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by Patty Cheffey
The Palmyra R-I School District will be under the leadership of the same superintendent for the 2023-24 school year following action by the school board at their meeting last week.
During the meeting, the board extended, by one year, the two-year contract of Jason Harper.
In addition during their meeting, the board heard a presentation on esports (see related article), approved moving scholarship CDs to the Palmyra School Foundation, discussed facility needs and the 2023-24 school year calendar, approved updates to the Facilities Use Fee Schedule, approved alternate bids for the new camera system, approved a bus bid and heard reports on special education and transportation.
Harper, who is in his first year at Palmyra R-I, having started last summer upon the retirement of Kirt Malone, said he is ready to continue the job.
“It has been a privilege to serve the Palmyra community, and I am excited to continue to do that,” he said.
In other business, the board approved the transfer of several scholarship CDs to the Palmyra School Foundation, upon the recommendation of the school auditors.
“The money can be invested more diversely by the foundation to allow the scholarship funds to grow for those families,” Harper explained, adding the Palmyra School Foundation is dedicated to providing scholarships and classroom grants to the students and teachers of Palmyra R-I.
The board worked on prioritizing current and future facility and instructional needs, including having Harper reaching out to the Palmyra Board of Public Works to receive a quote for a new transformer at the high school.
“The school district has worked with the Palmyra Board of Public Works to review the condition of the current transformer,” said Harper. “We currently have a three-phase service with pole mount tranformers inside a trans-closure. If there is a fault inside of the cabinet could cause major damage to our electrical system, and the lead time on a new transformer is at least 12 months.
“Our current setup is at the end of its life expectancy,” he added.
The board also approved updates to the Facilities Use Fee Schedule.
There are no increases in rental prices as the school feels it is “important to let the community use the school faciilties when possible,” there are some increases in related costs.
The changes included an increase in custodial costs from $20 per hour to $25 per hour, and the option for groups to pay a refundable deposit that would allow them to clean up rather than hire a custodian.
The price to put the floor coverings down in the gym was raised from $25 to $50.
There were two alternate bids accepted for the new camera system.
The first alternate bid was an upgrade to exterior cameras. The bid for $11,868.30 will provide a higher quality camera at outdoor locations.
The second alternate bid accepted was a Raid 6 upgrade to the camera systems in all three buildings. This ensures that no footage is lost if a drive would go down.
“This is essential to make sure all footage is available in case of system trouble,” said Harper, adding the two alternate bids, at a total cost of $23,595.46, are additions to the original bid and are from the same company which got the original bid for the new camera system.
The board also approved the lowest bid of $116,977 for a new 65 passenger school bus from Midwest Bus Sales. A total of three bids were received.
Harper reported he has also been working on the 2023-24 school year calendar and presented five possible calendars to the board.
The administrative team will eliminate that down to two choices for the faculty to review, and the board will make a final decision on the calendar at the February board meeting.
He noted, students must attend 172 days and teachers work an additional eight professional development days. The state also has a rule that schools cannot start the school year until 14 days prior to Labor Day.
Also during the meeting, Kinsey Cissna gave a report on the Special Education Program at Palmyra R-I.
The district currently serves 170 special education students kindergarten through 12th grade.
She also noted the Palmyra R-I Special Education Program was 100 percent compliant in all files and timelines submitted to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Brian Wosman presented the annual review of the transportation department.
The district currently runs 10 regular routes and three early childhood routes daily. Palmyra R-I buses run approximately 492 miles per day, and buses have taken students on 137 extra-curricular trips so far this year.
The board also approved updates on 15 MSBA policies and updated substitute teacher list.