The Trenton R-9 Board of Education heard several reports during on Tuesday evening’s virtual meeting.
Trenton High School Principal Kasey Bailey recommended postponing graduation and continue to consider how the district might hold the event. The board agreed with that recommendation. Bailey acknowledged some students might not be able to attend graduation if postponed due to other commitments, but he would prefer to have a regular ceremony at a later date if needed. The decision on a date will be based on the governor’s decision if the stay at home order will be extended or allowed to end and other factors. Board President Doug Franklin mentioned that the board could hold an emergency meeting at a later date to further discuss graduation if needed.
Rissler Elementary School Principal Tiffany Otto thanked everyone who has helped get out educational materials for Rissler students. Trenton Middle School Principal Daniel Gott said lessons would continue on Google Classroom for the middle school, and packets would continue to be made for families who do not have internet access. Franklin said he appreciates the flexibility of the administration and teachers for continuing educational opportunities.
Superintendent Mike Stegman reported administrators who help hand out food for students wear masks and gloves, use hand sanitizer, and are being diligent in taking precautions. He thanked the cooks and others who help. Board Member Marcie Cutsinger commended Stegman and the administration for the food preparation.
Stegman reported the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education instructed the district to continue the educational opportunities and meals through the end of what was planned to be the end of the school year. Time off due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be forgiven. Trenton R-9 is waiting for guidance on summer school, but Stegman does not think it looks probable at this time. The district will have to figure out how to get equipment back and how students can get personal items using social distancing.
Stegman said the district was close to the end of curriculum for the year and ready for testing, but students will lose something. Stegman anticipates teachers will have to start in a different place than usual at the beginning of the next school year. Board Member David Whitaker commented he did not want to leave students behind.
The district was approached by Trane before the pandemic to start career and technical education for HVAC. Stegman thinks the program would be great for Trenton, students, and North Central Missouri College.
Stegman indicated the board might want to consider hiring a female assistant coach for girl’s wrestling. He will get feedback from Coach Charlie Bacon before moving forward.
Stegman believes the district will gain some funding from the Orscheln Farm and Home Tax Increment Financing funds.
The Trenton R-9 Board of Education approved recommendations on Tuesday evening regarding health insurance in the virtual meeting held via Google Meet.
Stegman recommended the district join the Missouri Educators Trust Insurance Group brokered by Gallagher Benefit Services, Incorporated. He also recommended the district provide Plan 12 High Deductible Health Plan/Health Savings Account for every employee and allow employees to buy up to Plan 8 or Plan 3, which are Preferred Provider Organization plans, with the district paying a maximum of $602 per month per employee. The plans are through Aetna.
Plan 12 would cost $534.74 per employee per month with the plan providing a $5,000 deductible, which is double the deductible now. He noted the cost of Trenton’s plan is 12% above the MET rate currently, but the goal is to get the districts in the group to the same rates. There are 98 districts in MET currently.
On a split vote, the board did not approve of changing back to how hourly employees were paid before switching to annualization. Board Vice President Brandon Gibler and Member David Whitaker voted in favor of changing back. Voting against the change were Board President Doug Franklin and members Marcie Cutsinger, Corey Leeper, Cliff Roeder, and Dorothy Taul.
Before the vote, Whitaker said he thought going back to a time clock situation would create less confusion with non-certified employees. Secretary Susan Leeper said non-certified employees may take off just a few hours, which is calculated differently than certified employees who are deducted for a half-day or full-day.
Franklin said he thought the reason why the board changed to annualization was because of equalization for certified and non-certified employees. He noted employees cannot be paid for days they do not work because that is illegal. He wondered why the non-certified and certified were not tracked the same way. He and Taul said they had talked to several employees who did not want things to change regarding how they are paid. Taul mentioned that employees like knowing how much money they will get each month.
Corey Leeper mentioned he had heard from a non-certified employee to change it back. He wondered if it would be easier if employees had sick and personal days combined into one number. Cutsinger said one employee told her he or she would make do with whatever the board decided, but the person thought annualization was better than not being paid through the summer.
The board approved a four-year lease with Apple for 1,000 iPads, 1,000 Logitech keyboards, and 115 Apple pencils to replace more than 800 iPads the district currently has that have aged out and will no longer update to the current software. The $1.00 purchase option involves a financed amount of $360,235, and annual payments in advance of $91,663.05. The old iPads will be sent to an Apple buyback program, which will create approximately $56,000 towards the price. At the end of the four years, the district can purchase the equipment for $1.00 or trade it in to a buyback program to help with the cost of a continuous upgrade program.
Gibler asked how the price of an iPad compared to a Chromebook. Stegman said Chromebooks could be several hundred dollars, but there is a difference between the two. He noted Apple does not rely on the internet, while Chromebooks do. Taul said she thought the purchase of iPads was needed for the district.
Stegman noted an Apple representative might be able to meet with staff to go over the new equipment. He said third through 12th grade uses the iPads one on one, and the lower grades use them differently. The iPads could be taken home at the high school level to start and then maybe at middle school. He added that something could be arranged to allow middle school students to take home iPads in the future in situations like now with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board approved, on a vote of 6 to 1, paying Apple Bus a 70% pro-rated figure for the last two bus payments to cover the bus drivers’ pay during the school closure. Gibler was the no vote. Trenton will pay $43,218.78 each for the last two payments and will save $18,522.33. Stegman noted other school districts are reacting in a similar manner. Some districts are paying 80% proration.
The board approved a GEC Grant application from Third Grade Teacher Marcie Stegman for $940 for the Perceptions Math program to enhance instruction for third-grade students.
The Special Education Compliance Plan—Part B was readopted. Trenton R-9 uses the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Compliance Plan. Missouri School Boards Association policy updates were also approved which involve a variety of matters.
In a report from the closed session of the board meeting, the Trenton R-9 Board of Education accepted three resignations in a virtual closed session Tuesday night. The resignations were from kindergarten teacher Angela Wagner, paraprofessional Lauren Udovich, and Jenny Otto as Trenton Middle School Student Council sponsor.
Paraprofessional Fran Miller’s retirement was approved.
The board approved the employment for the next school year of Alexis Cook as an elementary teacher, Amber Sprague as a special education teacher, Annie Bass as a paraprofessional, Joy Bettis as a middle school teacher, and Kim Foster as TMS Student Council sponsor.