by Johannes Brann

Meeting Thursday evening, April 20 and with all member present, the board of Northeast Vernon County R-1 School District approved salary schedule for non-certified, classified employees as well as the extra-duty stipend schedule for the coming school year. The board also approved subscribing to an on-line service for classes and resources, clarified the position of board secretary, declared the old solar panels as surplus property and available for sale.    

On hand for the Thursday evening meeting were board members, David Bruce, Heather Brown, Heath Brown, Connie Gerster, Deland Prough, Scott Pritchett and Mike Newman. Also present were Board Secretary Janice Graves, High School co-principals Josh Smith and Megan McInroy, Elementary Principal Kendall Ogburn and Superintendent Chris Holcomb.

Introducing the first item, Holcomb provided some background noting the district will be maintaining the same total number of hours in class for the coming school year but is lengthening the school day and cutting down the number of days in school year.

Said Holcomb, “If we don’t make an adjustment for the non-certified and classified personnel, they would have a net loss in pay for the coming year and so I am proposing we adjust their salary schedule so they make more per day but it equalizes their annual salary. Plus, this would give anywhere from a $100 to $300 per year bump in pay depending on if you’re a nine, 10 or 12–month employee.”

The motion to approve received a unanimous vote.

The extra-duty stipend schedule for such activities as coaching and being a club or group sponsor received a small boost in pay. Holcomb noted the district is already competitive in its school conference. Again, a unanimous vote was given to the motion to approve the proposed extra-duty stipend schedule.

The superintendent prefaced discussion on the next item of the agenda by stating, “The current Student Information System through which we track attendance and grading is going away as of June 2025.”

Costs and features were compared between Infinite Campus and TeacherEase. The former would cost just over $13,000 per year while the latter would be under $10,000. The motion to transition to TeacherEase by Common Goal Systems as beginning with the 2024-2025 school year received the vote of each board member.

The third round of the federal Covid-19 relief funds to schools, known as ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) requires 20 percent of the district’s allocation be set aside for evidence-based initiatives which specifically tackle lost instructional time (“learning loss”) due to Covid-19 school closures.

“For our school district, this amounted to $229,000 of which $160,000 remains but thankfully, we have until Sept. 2025 to expend these funds and so we can address these very real needs in several ways over more than one school year,” said Holcomb.

With further explanations and endorsements provided by principals Smith and McInroy, Holcomb proposed purchasing a 5-year site license for on-line materials from iCEV Multimedia, an internet instructional company.

Principal Smith explained that while such a license would give the district an additional resource for on-line courses, its greater benefit is how it provides every teacher in the district with a large amount of resources for every course, all of which are tied to Missouri state standards for each curriculum.

“It’s like a vast on-line textbook with just about every type of resource you can imagine, for every subject we teach in this district, from elementary through high school”, said Smith. 

At a cost of $6,080 per year, Holcomb asked the board to approve the expenditure of $30,400. The motion was approved on a 7-0 vote.

The board designated current school secretary, Janice Graves to serve as the Secretary of the Board with board member Heather Brown as assistant secretary.

As noted for last month’s board meeting, Superintendent Holcomb was able to get the outstanding balance of $59,851.35, still owed on the old, no longer used solar panels down to $4,000. Before asking that the 130 panels from the elementary and high schools be declared surplus property and put up for sale on-line, Holcomb informed the board he was able to obtain a further reduction in the amount owed down to $2,000.

After commending Holcomb for his negotiating skills, the board approved the declaration of the solar panels as surplus property and their on-line sale.

In the report of the elementary principal, Ogburn noted an enrollment of 96 students with second graders currently taking swimming lessons at the Nevada YMCA.

May 5 will see a field trip for the Pre-K through Second Grade while grades 3-6 will go on May 9. Both trips will be to view a suitable movie at the theater in Lamar. Ogburn noted a local club was picking up the cost for all school groups attending the local theater in May.

On May 11, students in grade six will have a morning tour of the high school. Graduating NEVC seniors will walk through and be honored at the elementary school on Friday, May 12. May 16 will see the Food for America program bring farm equipment and brief talks to the elementary school. May 18 is the last day of school.

In Principal Smith’s report for the high school, he noted enrollment stood at 110, that End-of-Course testing had been completed

May 4-8 will be the Senior Trip to Nashville, Tennessee while May 11 at 6 p.m. is when academic awards will be distributed with graduation on May 13 at 6 p.m. and athletic awards being made on May 16 at 5:30 p.m.

In his brief report, the superintendent said the May board meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. on the same day as the last day of school, May 18. Most of that meeting will be devoted to the regular audit of the school district for the 2022-2023 school year as well as for a separate audit of federal funds expended during that same time period. The federal audit was triggered when the district received over $750,000 in federal funds; those came from the aforementioned ESSER, the Covid-19 relief funds to schools.