Teachers of the first quarter were announced at November 9th’s Trenton R-9 Board of Education meeting. They are Rissler Elementary School First Grade Teacher Abby Gott, Trenton Middle School Art Teacher Sheridan Mounce, and Trenton High School American Government Teacher Derek Bloom.
Superintendent Mike Stegman noted the board will choose a teacher of the year later in the school year.
Election filing dates were announced for the board’s April 5th election. The first date to file for open positions will be December 7th, and the last day to file is December 28th. The terms of Board President Dorothy Taul and Treasurer Marcie Cutsinger will expire at the April 12th meeting. Both of those positions are three-year terms. Board Member Jason Hostetler’s term will also expire at that meeting. That position is a one-year term. Hostetler filled an open spot on the board in August left by Corey Leeper resigning in June.
Persons interested in running for a position may file at the district office starting December 7th at 8 o’clock in the morning and continuing during the office’s normal business hours to 4 o’clock in the afternoon. During winter break, filings will be handled December 22nd and 23rd from 8 o’clock to noon. Filings will not occur when the district office is closed due to holidays December 24th and 27th or due to inclement weather. Filing will end December 28th at 5 o’clock in the evening.
Information was provided on winter weather procedures. Announcements concerning cancelations, early dismissals, late starts, and/or the use of hard surface bus routes will be made through the Trenton R-9 Twitter account, Facebook pages, website, and Bulldog text alert system. Announcements will also be made on KTTN, in the Republican Times, and on Fox 4 and Channel 5 on TV.
For a late start, schedules for students in kindergarten through 12th grades will be on a two-hour delay. No breakfast will be served.
In the event of students being released early, after-school activities and programs will be canceled.
The preschool schedule will vary. On late start days, there will not be morning sessions. On early out days, there will not be afternoon sessions.
District personnel will use information from local, state, and national weather organizations to make determinations about dismissing or canceling school. Road conditions, wind chills, and student safety will be evaluated.
During his report, Stegman said some board members may have gotten calls about the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses of more than 100 employees. He noted Trenton R-9 has 175 employees. However, information he has received indicates that, at this time, the governor says there will not be any vaccine mandates in schools, and matters will be decided at a local level.
Stegman said there was good news on the district’s health insurance program through the Missouri Educators Trust.
He reported the insurance pool is very solvent. MET built reserves, which were at $12.6 million at the end of fiscal year 2021. That represents an increase of $3.6 million from a year ago.
Prescription drug rebates came in at $5.9 million, which keeps the prescription drug program very solvent.
Stegman said MET has negotiated a deal with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to be the sole provider for MET for the upcoming year. The district’s network will move from Aetna to Anthem beginning July 1st, 2022. MET will retain the prescription portion of the insurance pool, so there will not be any changes in the prescription program.
Changes will take place with wellness checks. Stegman reported the checks will be a finger prick instead of a blood draw.
He also reported Trenton R-9’s usage was stable at 88.6% for the July 2020 to June 2021 year. He noted for MET, anything under 100% is considered good.
When the district joined it was at MET rates plus 12%. Stegman is not sure how rates will be affected. Rates for the upcoming year are to be released in the spring.
He reported the performing arts center floor has been repaired from water damage in the summer.
Safe Defend is being installed this month. The system is the district’s new personal security system.
Stegman said computer equipment for the system arrived last week. Safe Defend boxes are scheduled to arrive November 17th through 19th. Training and implementation will be on December 6th.
Stegman thinks the system will be a great thing for the district.
He reported that, due to storm damage and a power surge six weeks ago, the district office phones have been replaced and are working. The new system is voice over internet protocol.
Director of Special Education Tara Hoffman presented the Gifted Program Evaluation. She reported there are 41 students enrolled in the program, and another 42 are in the process of being tested. She said she thinks the influx is because there were no Missouri Assessment Program scores last year.
Instructional Coach Jill Watkins provided an update on services she provides.
She reported each school district is given a certain amount to use for instructional coaching for three years through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief 3 funding. Trenton was given $49,000.
Watkins said she has been busy helping teachers.
Board Vice President Brandon Gibler and Cutsinger said they had received positive comments about the work Watkins is doing. Board Member Melissa King said she is glad Watkins is providing instructional coaching. Trenton High School Principal Kasey Bailey also said teachers had told him they appreciate Watkins’s support.
Stegman, Taul, and King shared their experiences with the Missouri School Boards Association Annual Conference November 4th through 7th. Taul said it was interesting to see innovative things other districts are doing. King encouraged other board members to attend in the future because she thought the sessions were helpful.
The Trenton R-9 Board of Education on November 9th approved, on a split vote of five to two, amendments to the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan. The plan is related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vice President Brandon Gibler proposed the amendments and made the motion to approve them. Board Member Melissa King seconded them.
The amendments involve deleting the part in the plan requiring masks on school buses. They also involve having school staff send an advisory notice to parents and guardians of students identified as close contacts instead of having staff compile a list of close contacts.
Board President Dorothy Taul and Treasurer Marcie Cutsinger voted no on the matter.
Gibler said getting rid of the portion about wearing masks on buses would just eliminate it from the district’s plan. Apple Bus could still enforce the federal mandate. He noted the school district did not get funded to contact trace.
The district can still work with the health department, as he said nothing in his proposal said the district could not. Symptoms should still be monitored, and if children are sick, Gibler believes they should not come to school.
King mentioned some other school districts were making changes to their plans similar to the amendments made to Trenton R-9’s plan. The health department could call anyone exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual to contact trace instead of having the staff do it.
Board Member Bill Miller said the changes would release the school from doing the health department’s job.
Superintendent Mike Stegman noted the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan is part of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief 3 funding. The district had to add additional mitigation prevention strategies for approval.
He and Cutsinger said they thought the proposal should have been brought to the ESSER 3 Committee to be reviewed. The local committee was formed in the summer.
Stegman commented he thought what Trenton R-9 was doing with the plan already was fine. He did not see a reason to change it.
Cutsinger said she would have liked for the public to have seen the proposal before November 9th’s meeting. She wants to be transparent with the public. Cutsinger commented she was not saying she was opposed to the proposal.
School principals said contact tracing for staff was time-consuming.
King said she could get administrators’ information on how other school districts are handling similar matters.
The board approved a school calendar adjustment. December 6th was converted into a full day of professional development. Stegman reported the day would primarily be used for Safe Defend training. Safe Defend is the new personal security system being installed in the district. Staff may also do other activities on December 6th.
Hard surface bus routes were approved.
Director of Supportive Services Kris Ockenfels reported rural bus stops will meet at designated locations for bus routes that encompass rural and in-town stops. In-town stops associated with those routes on buses number 3, 4, 7, 9, and 10 will remain the same. The times may vary due to road conditions. Rural afternoon stops will be at the morning locations.
The morning and afternoon stops will remain as usual for routes that are in-town only. Those routes include buses number 5, 8, 11, 13, and 14. Ockenfels noted times will be as close to the regular times as the weather safety allows.
The board approved three policy updates recommended by the Missouri School Boards Association and tabled one update. Stegman reported the changes updated the policies with laws that recently went into effect.
One of the approved policy updates involved the shortening of the filing period for school board elections. Another involved school districts not being allowed to use public funds to support a ballot measure, candidate, or committee. The third one involved allowing parents to record Individualized Education Program meetings.
The policy update that was tabled involved behavioral risk assessment. King said the explanation of the policy provided in the board packet did not include all the information needed to decide if the board should approve it or not.
The board went into a closed session for personnel.