New Classes, New Fees Approved By West Washington School Board
By Jill Moon
At the May 26 meeting of the Okawville School Board discussed student fees for the upcoming school year.
In the pipeline are some new classes; Digital Graphics, Graphic Design, and agriculture classes, among others.
Fees for these new classes are expected to be $15.00. Lunch fees increased 5 cents to $2.50 for students and to $2.65 for adults.
Superintendent Fuhrhop explained that the increases were necessary to keep the school reimbursement from federal and state funds.
Due to increases in officiating costs, Fuhrhop proposed to increase sports fees for the High School to $25.00 from $20.00
For the Junior High it was proposed to increase to $20.00 from $15.00.
Kindergarten fees are to increase from $45 to $55.00.
Grades 1-6 fees were proposed to be set at $55.00 also. Half day early childhood development class fees were set at $25.00, half of what full-day rates usually are in the area.
Fuhrhop said he wants to “keep fees reasonable”. These fees were all approved.
Before approving the bills, the board discussed paying off a series of bonds early, resulting in $130,000 of savings in interest for the district.
Other bills discussed included replacing batteries in the floor cleaners, stocking medical supplies for the school and latex gloves for the science department.
A bill was paid that allowed a teacher to go to a student’s house that was homebound by illness. The bills were all passed.
There were some clarifications to the student handbook.
A student’s first teacher of the day if student has not arrived in the classroom by 8:05 has the authority to mark them as tardy versus the old language which said if student was in the building.
The board hopes the new language will be clearer for parents.
The board reinforced the athletic shoe policy, asking that once a student enters the building, if other footwear has been worn from home, they must immediately change into athletic shoes and remain in them at all times they are on school property.
If a student does not have athletic shoes to wear a call home will be made to obtain them.
Danielle Williams, a parent in attendance, asked the board for clarification on excused versus unexcused tardies.
Board President Ron Recker asked for a vote on his proposal last month that any senior who met the requirements for being exempt from taking a final be allowed to do so and only let that exam grade help that student’s final grade.
All changes were approved.
Principal Spinka’s report stated that on the Jr. High School side, in 2014-2015 there was 96.8-percent attendance.
In 2015-2016, there was 97–percent attendance.
Percentages improved across the board.
Chronic truants (defined as missing 5-percent of the school year, recently changed from 10-percent); 2014-2015: six students; 2015-2016: five students.
In the high school, those figures went from five students in 2014-2015 to two in 2015-2016.
Discipline Incidents (defined as “referred to administration by a teacher”) declined. In the grade school, from 2014-2015 there were 401 incidences down to 352 in to 2015-2016.
In the high school, they declined from 440 incidences in 2014-2015 to 352 this most recent year.
Spinka said there had been years in the past when they saw 1,000 or more discipline incidents.
Enrollment has also increased as mobility has decreased (number of students enrolling versus number of students leaving), to give Okawville, at the end of the 2015-2016 school year an enrollment of 531. The 2014-2015 school year ended with an enrollment of 524.
Administrators agreed that these positive figures were due to increased visibility and involvement with the student population by the administration.
Principal Senior’s report focused on curriculum changes, most prominently, putting phonics back in first grade.
He had met with curriculum guide members and felt it was “very, very important,” to add this in order to reach the goal of students being independent readers by third grade.
Fuhrhop supported this plan, saying he much preferred “to teach reading by phonetically sounding words out.”
Senior said the focus was going to be more on vocabulary than spelling in third grade through sixth grade.
He stated that every single teacher will eventually be on a curriculum guide committee. He also reported that many teachers are attending professional development events over the summer and will come back and teach each other what they learned.
Senior congratulated both the boys and girls basketball teams on their scholastic achievement.
The girls team had a 3.64 cumulative GPA; the boys team had a 3.38 cumulative GPA.
In his report, Superintendent Fuhrhop said the floor repairs planned for the summer would start June 13.
He reported that the students mowing and trimming school grounds and doing other maintenance during the summer were doing very well.
Fuhrhop expressed great frustration after a trip to Springfield to meet with legislators.
He said that even though the state gave out 60 mandates this year, it was proposing to cut aid to Okawville School District by approximately $100,000.