The Sedalia School District 200 continues to see an increase in several areas of testing as reported during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. 

Directors of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Becky Brownfield, grades six through 12, and Devon Gilmore, grades kindergarten through five, presented information about the district’s ACT Scores and Annual Performance Report (APR). 

“We continue to see a steady increase with our ACT scores,” Brownfield told the Democrat. “We are especially pleased with the growth in English and reading.” 

Information in the board meeting packet shows the district’s scores in those areas increased in all categories and are nearing the state’s composite average. Sedalia 200 reported a composite score of 20.4, which is slightly lower than the state average of 20.8. In 2018, the district reported a composite score of 19.5 marking almost a full point increase from 2018 to 2019. 

District English scores are at the state average of 20.3. They rose from 19 points last year. Math scores were listed at 19.9 as compared to the state average of 20.2. Reading scores for the district increased a full point from 19.6 to 20.6. The state average is 20.8. Science scores also rose a full point from 19.3 to 20.3. The state average is 20.8. 

The report is based on the most recent ACT score for the student, which is not necessarily their highest recorded score. Last year the district tested more than 300 juniors during the spring ACT test. 

“We are taking a deeper look at our ACT preparation work that has been a district staple for many years,” Brownfield said. 

The district is in the process of preparing its final APR, according to Brownfied and Gilmore. 

“We are looking at a new internal process with evaluating our APR as the state once again made significant adjustments to the reporting and measurements,” Brownfield said. “We are pleased with our gains in academic achievement and hope to continue in that trend.”

According to the board packet, “the state process has changed and the district no longer receives points per MSIP standard nor an APR percentage. The district has not yet received an updated APR since the release of science scores.”

Preliminary science scores show Sedalia 200 students scored 350 points compared to the state average of 303 points for fifth grade. In the eighth grade, the district score was 325 compared to 319 for the state. Biology students in the district scored 302 compared with a state average of 316. 

A great deal of discussion centered on the district’s need to find certified substitute teachers. Like many school districts, Sedalia 200 is struggling to find individuals who are willing to serve as substitutes when faculty and staff absences occur. 

We are trying to come up with a solution for our substitute shortage,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Nancy Scott told the board. “I’ve spoken to many of the area superintendents and we have talked about the fact of ‘is it pay?’ 

“The district’s pay is competitive,” Scott explained. “We asked the other superintendents if they had a solution and they all said, ‘no, but when you get it will you tell us about it.’”  

One reason for the shortage, according to Scott, is the district’s increase in staff. More teachers and employees potentially increase the number who request off. 

“Each year our substitute pool has decreased,” Scott commented. “In the last few years our staff has increased so this makes for a shortage in substitutes. Unemployment is also down so that is part of it.” 

The district is continuing to look at additional options to add to their list of substitutes but is alsoasking individuals to apply for the substitute pool. Candidates must have 60 hours of college credit, be fingerprinted and be approved through the state for a substitute certificate. Those seeking to serve as substitutes in non certified positions must still be fingerprinted. The district pays a rate of $11.25 per hour for certified staff position substitutes. For more information, call Central Office at 660-829-6450. 

Board members were provided a report regarding the Food Service Department prepared by Food Service Director Rowena Nickell. The district served more than 555,308 lunches in the 2018-19 school year. There were 302,304 breakfasts served at no charge to students at the Pettis County Early Childhood Co-op, Sedalia Middle School, and Parkview, Heber Hunt, Skyline, Washington and Horace Mann elementary schools.

Nickell commented the centralization of the free and reduced meals application and approval system has been met with success. Based on May reports, 63.55% of students districtwide qualified for free or reduced lunches. Program revenue for the year was $2,286,668 and expenditures were $2,247,146.

While the district has no immediate plans to change the food service program, Scott told the Democrat, “We are always looking for avenues to improve our programs. Our food service program is operated very efficiently by a group of dedicated individuals.” 

 In other actions the board: 

 • Approved the 2019-20 preliminary bus routes. According to Assistant Superintendent Chris Pyle, the routes are very similar to previous years. Approximately 3,500 to 3,600 students take advantage of bus transportation on a daily basis covering 1,767 miles of routes using approximately 221 gallons of fuel. Twenty-four buses are on regular routes for elementary, middle/junior high and high school routes, four for early childhood routes and three for special needs routes.

• Discussed a request from Pyle to pursue quotes to replace a pickup in the maintenance fleet. According to Pyle, the 1995 pickup that needs to be replaced is utilized daily and in inclement weather for snow removal. The district will not exceed $35,000 for this purchase if approved.

• Heard a presentation by Scott on the district’s Migrant Education Program. According to Scott, in the last few years numbers in the program have been low. The district is starting to see an increase in the number of migrant students. The program served 14 students, who are qualified by the state, throughout the grade levels. The program is designed to help migratory children overcome educational barriers they may face as a result of frequent moves by families that move due to employment.

• Voted to end an agreement with the West Central Special Education Coop. The program enabled the district to be part of a cooperative with 11 area schools to hire full time therapists for special education. Sedalia 200 serves as the fiscal agent. The district has not used any services from the cooperative for nine years but has continued to pay to be a member. The fee is based on the child count in the area of special education and ranges between $8,500 and $12,750 depending on the district’s special education student count. The district’s withdrawal is not expected to affect the other schools in the program.

• Approved payment of bills totaling $3,671,303.05 for September.

Prior to the meeting, the district hosted State Fair Community College administrators and officials for a meeting with district patrons to gather input from the community as SFCC prepares its five-year strategic plan. 

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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