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by Patty Cheffey
The Palmyra R-I Board of Education reviewed the preliminary budget which includes a new Career Ladder program to the district.
The budget was discussed during the board’s meeting last week, at which they also recognized several students, discussed the school’s CSIP Plan and energy savings,heard a legislative update and filled several teaching and coaching positions in the district.
As part of the balanced preliminary budget, the district has added Career Ladder for the teachers, which emphasizes work outside the school day.
“This could include writing curriculum, tutoring students, serving on committees, professional development, continuing education and a number of other things,” explained Superintendent Jason Harper. “The state would pay 60 percent of the cost of this program, and teachers can earn up to $5,000 additional dollars for completing the requirements.
In addition, the preliminary budget includes a new transformer at the high school as the original transformer that was installed in 1971 is becoming antiquated, Harper said, noting there are also tables, chairs and equipment ordered for multiple grade levels.
“The budget includes a new food service contract, and cyber security measures that are required starting Sept. 1,” he added.
In a related matter, the board also approved salary schedules for both certified and classified staff for the 2023-2024 school year.
The base teacher’s salary for next year increased to $39,000 for a first-year teacher, Harper said, noting all staff were able to move a step on the salary schedule in addition to the $1,250 raise on the base salary.
In other business, Harper recognized the following students with “Excellence in Education” awards for their outstanding efforts in representing the Palmyra R-I School District:
• the FFA Food Science team of Gianna Mahsman, Blaydn Buckwalter, Mitchell Hocking, and Lynton Bock for winning their state contest;
• Grace Fessenden for winning the State Floriculture contest in FFA;
• Bernadette Mahsman for finishing as second high individual in Farm Management;
• Jenna McVeigh and Dorian Sheputis for their Gold Star Rating for their FCCLA service project; and
• Collin Arch for winning four wrestling MSHSAA state championships in his career at Palmyra.
Harper reported that since Palmyra R-I is a cycle two school for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the district will have to submit a Comprehensive School Improvement Plan, a guiding document for all facets of the school district, to DESE by Oct. 1.
The district currently has a CSIP plan, and that will be updated with academic goals based on the Annual Performance Report from this spring.
The board reviewed the proposal from Veregy regarding the energy savings contract for LED lighting and new HVAC units at the elementary and high school buildings.
The school district is looking at options Veregy will provide in July to see the scope of work that can be done.
In his legislative update, Harper noted the district is concerned about HB 268 which would lower personal property taxes from 33.3 percent to 32.8 percent. It would also put a 15 percent depreciation schedule on all vehicles.
“That could lead to a 10 percent reduction in revenue on personal property which could cost our district up to $170,000,” he said.
The open enrollment issue is also a concern as it could affect all public schools by creating uncertainty in enrollment numbers which could create staffing and transportation issues.
Harper also noted, there is talk of foundation formula changes and calendar requirements that could have an effect on the district.
“The calendar requirement would change the required days of school to move from 174,” he said. “Palmyra R-I currently attends 172 days with students each year.”
The board approved several new hirings, including Andrea Bunten, middle school math team; Carla Eagan, elementary teacher; Pam Frankenbach, crossing guard-PM; Kaitlyn Hopke, high school Quiz Bowl; Dalton Huffman, middle school social studies, varsity wrestling coach, high school assistant football; Jenny Jansen, middle school physical education, varsity softball; Mikkah Johnson, elementary K-Kids; Nicole Kroeger, assistant varsity girls basketball coach; Alexis Meyers, elementary technology teacher; and Isaac Williamson, middle school special education teacher, high school assistant football coach, middle school boys track coach
Steven Walker and Nick Powell were also hired to do summer painting,
There were also four internal moves, including Brandon Crisp, elementary PE to high school Pride; Tracy Fountain, from high school technology coach to literacy coach; Mark Lickfeld, from middle school library/paraprofessional to middle school social studies/ag; and Matt Thomas, middle school ELA to high school assistant principal.
The following resignations were approved.
Sandy Allen, Pre-K paraprofessional; Brian Rea, middle school football coach; and Thomas, varsity baseball assistant, middle school softball assistant.
The district currently has the following teaching positions still open: sixth grade ELA, middle school librarian/paraprofessional, PES physical education and middle school computers.
“To have four positions open at this point puts us in a good position,” Harper said. “Three of those were created by movement within the district.
He also noted the majority of the coaching positions have been filled.
“We still have a varsity wrestling coach and middle school football openings along with one middle school track and middle school basketball positions, “he said, noting a couple of others could be posted this week. “The principals and Mr. (Brian) Wosman have worked hard to fill spots with quality people.”
The board also did a first reading on MSBA policy updates, which include reading interventions for students who are below their grade level in reading fluency.
These will be approved at the second reading in June.
School nurses, Gigi Lehenbauer and Jennifer Jones, gave a report on the district’s health services program.