Storms force board to modify school schedule

February 28, 2013

The recent run on snow days prompted Sedalia School District 200 to adjust its calendar to increase instruction time leading up to standardized testing this spring.

On Wednesday night, the Sedalia 200 school board approved the 2013-14 school year calendar, as well as “make-up day” changes for this year. March 18 and April 1 had been designated as professional development days for faculty; they now will be make-up days that, if needed, could become instruction days. Teachers now will have two professional development days over the summer in small group settings; Carla Wheeler, the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, will schedule the sessions.

With students out of class again today due to weather-related issues, the district has had five “snow days” this school year.

“We just hope we don’t have more of these days,” said Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt.

He said he believes teachers will see the changes as positive moves, as it will give them more instruction time with students to better prepare them for the tests.

The make-up day schedule currently stands as March 18, April 1, April 29, April 30, May 23 and May 24.

Also Wednesday, the board approved the summer school program for this year, which includes reading camp for grades 1 through 4, credit recovery for grades 9 through 12, student-paid driver education and, new this year, personal finance for grades 11 and 12. Personal finance will be a 60-hour course, while the others remain 30-hour sessions.

Pollitt said the goal is to reduce personal finance class sizes during the school year and to provide schedule flexibility for students who are active in band or other non-core classes.

The minimum number of students for the summer session of personal finance will be 20; if 40 or more students sign up, another teacher will be added and the class split.

In other business, the board:

• Approved mowing and field maintenance contracts. BC Mowing, which has the current contract, was the lone bidder for the mowing work. Its $26,418 bid is a 1.5 percent increase over the previous contract. Superior Lawn, which has maintained athletic fields for the district for years, won the job over S&T Landscaping; both had bid $20,000. Pollitt said the district has been pleased with the work both BC Mowing and Superior Lawn have provided.

• Heard a report on the 2013-14 proposed salary schedule, which basically provides a 2 percent raise. Also factored in is a 2 percent increase in health insurance costs; the district covers 100 percent of employees’ costs. The schedule will be brought back in March for board approval.

As part of the discussion, Superintendent Harriet Wolfe said the district is requesting creation of a communications director position. The job would start out as a part-time teaching position for journalism and personal finance classes along with handling internal and external district communications. Wolfe said electronic communications with the public through Facebook and Twitter, along with district website updates, need to be improved and would be part of the job.

• As part of a conversation about 2012-13 budget amendments, board member Scott Gardner asked if federal sequestration issues would affect district programs such as special education that are supported with federal funding. Assistant Superintendent Nancy Scott said if sequestration does kick in, it would not affect the district until the 2014-15 school year; if it does, she expressed confidence that local funding could be used to support key programs.