Newtown-Harris Board of Education reviews annual audit

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The Newtown-Harris R-3 Board of Education approved the 2022-2023 audit conducted by Conrad and Higgins on December 13.

Superintendent Dr. Matt Copeland reported that the school district is deficit spending, utilizing the funds it has received. He emphasized the need to build up more reserves, considering rising costs, inflation, and the potential for a continued recession. Dr. Copeland stressed prudent spending, especially with the reduction of COVID-19-era funds, and the importance of maximizing state and federal grants.

The Board also approved Missouri Consultants for Education (MCE) as the service provider for district policies, regulations, and forms. MCE will act as the repository and guide for these policies.

Survey results, involving 66 respondents including students, faculty, and parents, were shared with the Board. Notably, 10 out of 16 faculty members and 39 out of 59 eligible students participated in the survey.

The survey highlighted that the school community provides a safe and welcoming learning environment. Teachers are skilled in connecting with students and the community, and students feel prepared for current and future learning experiences. However, the survey also indicated a need for improved communication, better instructional materials, and enhancements in school cleanliness and infrastructure.

The district’s report card, as viewed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state, was discussed. Dr. Copeland noted the challenges of interpreting data for small, rural districts like Newtown-Harris, which can experience significant percentage swings due to small student populations. He affirmed that the district, while accredited and committed to student welfare, needs to improve its proficient and advanced test scores.

Regarding the School Safety Grant, Newtown-Harris received a bid of $13,750 from Integrated Facility Services for controlled access to main doors and an integrated camera system. The district awaits additional bids for other safety projects.

The district is also awaiting approval for the Clean School Bus Grant from Lion Electric for an electric bus.

A comprehensive plan to comply with the Get the Lead Out of School Drinking Water Act was presented, focusing on inventory creation, sampling plans, record-keeping, education, and communication, as well as additional sampling and remediation.

Dr. Copeland outlined that the action steps for this plan will be implemented over the coming months and shared with stakeholders through email, public disclosure, and on the district website.

An evaluation tool for Dr. Copeland’s job performance was distributed to the Board, with assessments due by the next meeting on January 10. Dr. Copeland encouraged community members to share their opinions on his tenure.

The Board is seeking suggestions for the school calendar, intending to develop at least two potential schedules based on teacher and community input.

The Board plans to conduct a walkthrough of the district after the new year, a practice not recently done, to observe district operations in real-time.

Lastly, the Missouri Educators Unified Health Plan proposed to compete with the district’s current plan from the Ozarks Schools Benefits Association. A health census is scheduled for January to provide a competitive quote.

A report on the district’s Universal Literacy results, English Language Arts scores, and discipline data was shared, reflecting baseline data that will guide instructional and decision-making processes.

Kim Gaines, Northeast Missouri Superintendents Group Legislative Liaison, updated administrators on prefiled bills from the Missouri House and Senate, indicating a repeat of issues from recent years, including open enrollment, property tax overhauls, and school choice reforms.

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