The Board of Education met for its regularly scheduled meeting on September 22nd, approving the tax rate levy for the 2022-23 school year. The rate for the 2022-23 school year is set at $4.9271, a $.0008 increase from the 2021-22 school year ($4.9263).
Dr. Nick Gooch, Assistant Superintendent, Support Services, presented details on assessments, debt service, and operating levies in advance of the meeting.
Breakdown of the $459,728,481 total assessment:
$99,824,697 personal property
The operating levy rate for 2022-23 increased slightly to $3.2271 from $3.2263 in 2021-22. The proposed debt service levy of $1.70 remains the same as the 2021-22 school year.
During administrative dashboard reporting, Gooch also reported on several items, including the anticipated decrease in school lunch participation once universal free lunch concluded in the spring.
School lunch participation is down 19% (from 66% to 47%), coming off of two years of free lunches provided through COVID-19 pandemic related funding. Breakfast dropped from 29% to 11%. Free & reduced lunch participation is up (currently 26.11%). 200 students qualify on a carryover basis from last school year – these students have until October 5th to reenroll in the program.
The food service department experienced challenges at the start of the year, losing nine employees, including a manager at the high school. Three more have been hired since the start of school, but the department is still 6 short of a full staff of 35.
Construction on the district’s new central office is proceeding as scheduled, with interior/exterior metal framing complete. Roofing should begin in next 2 weeks, with initial asphalt for parking lot scheduled for the week of September 26th.
Gooch also reported safety bollards will be installed at the entrances of each district building.
Per board request, the technology department priced four options for classroom cameras and microphones. Gooch reported to equip each classroom in the district, 270 kits would be needed. The cost to equip each classroom ranges from $573,750 to $2,889,000.
Board member Jeff Coleman asked for a per classroom cost, stating the estimates “went to the extreme with every classroom in Grain Valley”. Gooch shared the per classroom cost, not including installation based on the cheapest option, would be $2125. The costs for installing cameras and microphones in each high school classroom would be $133,875 for the cheapest option; equipping middle school classrooms would be an estimated $146,625. The topic of classroom cameras will be brought back to the board for further review.
Gooch also reported the district’s E-Sports program is off to a strong start, with 60 students participating at the JV and varsity levels.
Dr. Beth Mulvey, Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services, reported a new law recently signed by Governor Parson ensures that students earning a score of 3 or higher on AP exams will automatically earn college credit at in-state public universities.
Dr. Amanda Allen, Assistant Superintendent, Student and Community Services, reported the high school and middle schools recently completed the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program.
The suicide prevention program educates students on the connection between depression and suicide and encourages students to seek help for themselves or others through a trusted adult, using the programs ACT message:
Allen also pointed to the increase in families requesting assistance through the BackSnack program. 183 families are currently being served in the program. A food drive for the program will be held next week.
The district also received 7,000 pairs of Bombas socks through a partnership with the Community Services League. Socks will be distributed to students and staff in the district.
Superintendent Dr. Brad Welle highlighted the fentanyl crisis and educational efforts the district is undertaking to inform students and families of the risks. The district is investigating acquiring Narcan (Naloxone), used to treat narcotic overdose in emergency situations. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is offering Narcan to districts with medical provider oversight.
The Board also reviewed three board policies, which Board President Jared English explained to an unusually large audience for a board meeting, is an ongoing effort of the board to regularly review all policies.
No changes were made to the student dress code policy, but Welle explained language currently articulated in middle and high school handbooks will be added to elementary level handbooks. Welle reported all building principals worked with administration to review the current policy, which was last reviewed in 2005. Board member Jeff Porter that the policy be brought to the board once more for further review.
Additionally, the board policy regarding teaching about controversial issues was asked to be returned for a second review. Administration recommended no changes to the current policy.
Finally, the board reviewed the current policy and process for public concerns and complaints, which will also be further reviewed at a future meeting.
The Board canceled its October workshop in order to tour the Fort Osage Career & Tech Center (CTC).