With only five weeks before the start of school Aug. 24, Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education members made decisions for the upcoming school year during Monday night’s meeting.
As described in the statement of philosophy included in the district’s student discipline code handbook, the district has the “responsibility granted by the state, to provide public education for children until they graduate or reach the age of 21.
“To fairly and effectively carry out this duty, school authorities and parents must establish an environment in each school which is conducive to learning,” the statement continues. “To accomplish this goal, there must be respect and mutual trust among parents, teachers, administrators, and students. There are many factors which affect the learning environment. The most destructive factors are inappropriate conduct and a lack of consistent and effective disciplinary response.”
According to Assistant Superintendent Steve Triplett, most of the additions to the discipline handbook were a result of a variety of situations the district has encountered in recent years.
“By adding the options we did, the administrators will have greater flexibility when dealing with some of the discipline issues we are seeing in students at younger ages,” Triplett explained. “We have experienced some disruptive behaviors at the grade school level that we felt needed to be addressed.”
The board voted to accept the recommended tuition rate of $8,200 per student for those who do not live within the Sedalia 200 district.
“Our tuition rate has increased slightly over the last four years,” Superintendent Brad Pollitt said. “We recommended raising the rate $200 this year to adjust for the tuition cost calculations recommended by the state.”
That figure is based on the cost to educate a child in the district and could be set as high as $8,555.58.
Board members also voted to approve the special education and gifted programs assessments and evaluations.
The district will serve 626 students in grades kindergarten through 12th and an additional 117 students in the Pettis County Early Childhood Cooperative, according to information provided in the board packet.
Chris Pyle, director of special education, said the district has established a number of goals for the department including narrowing the achievement gap between special education students and regular education students, increasing the graduation rate for special services students, strengthening the transition for these students and increasing parent and student participation in the program.
“For the last three years we have averaged an increase of 30 new special education students each year,” Pyle said. “If this growth continues it will have an impact on the program in everything from the number of teachers on staff to transportation costs and a number of other factors.
“Our teachers, staff and students get the job done on a daily basis and their goals align to the building and district’s goals,” Pyle added. “We have high expectations for our students in the department and we care about these students and their success.”
Pyle also presented information on the gifted program. Numbers in that department continue to increase as well district-wide with a projected number of 140 students for the upcoming year.
“Mrs. (Barbara) Todd does an outstanding job with the program,” Pyle told the Democrat prior to the meeting. “She has worked hard to incorporate more STEM activities in the program, which was one of the responses we heard from parents after we surveyed those with children in the program.
“Our gifted students did an outstanding job at the State Gifted Extempore contest this past year,” Pyle noted. “Our freshmen team of five young ladies took top place in the state in engineering and we had five other teams place in the top five in their respective categories out of 108 other teams that competed.”
In other actions the board:
• Approved the special meeting for the tax rate hearing for the 2017-18 school year for 6:15 p.m. Aug. 28 prior to the regularly scheduled board meeting at 6:30 p.m.
• Approved the addition of an $8 per-hour rate for substitutes when needed in the food services program. The board also increased the pay for licensed substitute nurses to $12.97 per hour.
• Accepted a $500 donation from the Sedalia Lions Club to the Pettis County Early Childhood Cooperative for the purchase of sensory materials for the students.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484