Trenton R-9 Board of Education announces results of meeting held on March 14th

Trenton R-9 School District
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Trenton R-9 Director of Academics Doctor Jill Watkins discussed the district’s Annual Performance Report at the Trenton Board of Education meeting March 14th.

She reported the district received 140.3 points out of 178 possible. The district is in the top half of the state. She said the district is on the right track and is moving in the right direction. However, she hoped the district would have been closer to 80%.

Superintendent Daniel Gott noted the state average for APR is 77%, so Trenton R-9 did better than the state average. However, he wanted to be better.

Continuous improvement made up 30% of APR points. Watkins said the district’s strengths for continuous improvement included its Comprehensive School Improvement Plan, Climate and Culture Survey, Kindergarten Entry Assessment, Individual Career and Academic Plan, audit, Annual Secretary of the Board Report, and timely submission of Missouri Student Information System and core data.

She noted opportunities for growth included attendance. The state wants 90% of students to attend school 90% of the time.

She recommended editing the CSIP and adding an attendance goal, objectives, and action steps for all buildings to address the current annual proportional attendance.

Watkins said she thinks the COVID-19 pandemic affected what people think about coming to school. She commented that school attendance is important. She also noted that Rissler Elementary School received 100% on the attendance portion of the APR.

Performance made up 70% of APR points. Watkins said the district’s strengths for performance included the success-ready students advanced credit, graduation rate four year, and graduate follow up. Those areas were on target.

Other strengths for performance included the academic achievement status for English Language Arts and Social Studies as well as success-ready students for college and career readiness. Those areas were on track.

Watkins commented that opportunities for growth involved the academic achievement status for science and math and academic achievement growth for the Missouri Assessment Program for fourth through eighth grades.

She recommended editing the CSIP and adding a goal, objectives, and action steps for success-ready students for college and career readiness at Trenton Middle School and Trenton High School.

Trenton High School students Abby Simpson and Kimberly Otto were recognized for having their art chosen to be displayed in the art gallery at the district office.

Gott reported all of the district’s school buses passed inspection. The district’s chair lift and elevators were also inspected, and work needs to be done on the phone in an elevator.

The district completed its state food service review at THS. Gott reported the review started in October with offsite documentation to be sent to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The district passed and received positive remarks on its food service team. He expects the next review to be in five years.

Students completed spring tornado drills March 14th. Gott noted a statewide tornado drill was last week, but March 14th worked better with schedules.

Gott recognized board members for their service. He presented each member with a certificate signed by State Representative Mazzie Boyd.

Trenton Middle School Principal Mike Hostetter reported 10 TMS Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America members will go to national competition.

Trenton High School Principal Chris Hodge reported five THS FCCLA members will go to national competition.

Rissler Principal Susan Gott reported a music program will be at the school March 16th.

Watkins added that Doctor Todd Whitaker will be the keynote speaker and talk to staff August 17th. She said he will inspire staff members.

The Trenton R-9 Board of Education approved salary schedules and insurance plans March 14th.

The salary schedules were based on recommendations of Superintendent Daniel Gott.

There was $500 added to the certified staff salary schedule with one step. The base pay will be $36,500. One step was added to all Bachelor’s Degree plus columns, and two steps were added to the Master’s Degree columns. One step is the equivalent of one year.

There was a $200 raise to the base for extra duty salaries, and Tier 1 for extra duty salary will be $4,489.50. Gott reported that the extra duty salaries had not been changed since 2008.

The high school drama position was moved from Tier 7 to Tier 6. Gott said the person in that position does a lot of extra work, and the drama club does performances every year.

The changes made to the certified staff salary schedule and extra duty pay salaries were estimated to cost the district about $194,219.80.

Salary and Welfare Committee Member Anna Muselman presented the committee’s proposal to the board before Gott made his recommendation. The Salary and Welfare Committee had proposed adding $1,000 to the certified staff salary schedule base and five steps to each column. The approximate cost of that salary schedule would have been $152,600.

Gott said he did not yet feel comfortable with adding five steps due to finances, and the budget would be tight with the addition of the Career Ladder.

He commented it would be hard to say if an extra $500 would sway teachers to come to Trenton. He noted that money is a big deal, but there are a lot of things that can turn someone on or off about a district.

Gott reported he will conduct an exit interview with anyone who leaves Trenton R-9. He has only done one exit interview so far, and he said the person did not leave because of pay.

Gott believes the board gave staff members generous raises last year. The certified staff salary schedule’s base was raised by $2,000 last year to $36,000.

Gott’s recommendations approved by the board included adding 25 cents to the non-certified staff salary schedule. That will make the year one pay $14.25 per hour for non-certified staff. There will be jumps of 60 cents at year six and 70 cents at year 11. The jumps are currently 40 cents at year six and 45 cents at year 11. Those changes are estimated to cost the district $55,000.

The Salary and Welfare Committee had recommended splitting the non-certified staff salary schedule into two categories, adding $1 to the base for paraprofessionals and secretaries, and adding 25 cents for cooks and custodians. The custodians and cooks would have had a $14.25 per hour base. The paraprofessionals and administrative assistants would have had a $15 per hour base.

Muselman explained the Salary and Welfare Committee recommended the split because of the requirements of previous education or training to apply for the job. The approximate cost to the district with that proposal would have been $67,444.80, including Medicare, social security, and retirement.

The total cost of the approved changes to the certified and non-certified staff salary schedules, and extra duty salaries is estimated to be $249,719.80).

The board approved offering free breakfast and lunch to all classified staff members. Gott reported all custodians and cooks currently get free meals, and the change would add paraprofessionals and secretaries. The cost to the district is estimated at $35,572.50.

Gott said if the district offered free meals to all staff members, the cost would be quite a bit more, and the district would have to make a change somewhere else with costs.

The Career Ladder was also approved for next school year at an estimated cost of $201,000. The state pays 60% of the program costs, and the district pays 40%. However, Gott said the district and state split the cost of the program about 50/50 when including retirement costs. He commented that a Career Ladder Committee would be formed to create a Career Ladder Plan.

The recommendations involving the free meals and the Career Ladder have an estimated cost of $236,572.

The board also approved changing the number of leave days to four personal and eight sick days. Any unused leave days would roll over to sick days.

The Salary and Welfare Committee’s proposal involved changing the number of leave days to three personal and nine sick days. The proposal also included that if there were any personal days unused at the end of the school year, they would roll over to sick days.

Nine-month employees currently receive 10 sick days and two personal days, and sick days and unused personal days roll over to sick days. When a nine-month employee reaches 50 sick days, the district doubles the number to 100 sick days.

Gott reported that the four personal and eight sick days were the maximum he felt comfortable with giving. Only the number of personal and sick days will be changed, and everything else about the leave policy will stay the same.

The Salary and Welfare Committee wanted to see a pay scale that encouraged paraprofessionals to continue pursuing their education beyond the Para-Pro Exam. Gott recommended denying that recommendation as presented. He said he loves seeing paraprofessionals getting an education, but he did not feel comfortable with adding pay to cover paraprofessional education.

The district will move back to the annualization of pay for all non-certified employees starting next school year. Gott noted survey results indicated employees would prefer an annualized salary.

Gott added that it was a pleasure to work with the Salary and Welfare Committee, and the committee was well prepared. He said the committee took into consideration it was his first time creating salary schedule recommendations.

The board approved offering five health insurance plans through the Missouri Educators Trust next school year. They are plans 3, 8, 12, 15, and 16. Those are the same plans that are currently available to employees.

Plans 3, 8, and 15 are PPOs, and plans 12 and 16 are HDHPs. Plan 3 will cost $765 per month per employee, Plan 8 $661, Plan 12 $552, Plan 15 $602, and Plan 16 will cost $446 per month per employee.

Gott reported the cost of the plans will be less next school year than they currently are. He explained that, when Trenton R-9 joined MET, the district joined at the MET rate plus 12%. The district will move to the MET rate plus four percent for next school year. MET rates went up by 1.9%, which was down from 5.7% last year.

The district will still contribute $602 per month per employee for health insurance.

The Trenton R-9 Board of Education March 14th approved keeping its banking services with Southern Bank.

That was after bank depository bids were reviewed that involved different aspects of banking. Other bids came from Farmers Bank of Northern Missouri, Farmers State Bank, and BTC Bank.

Superintendent Daniel Gott reported all of the bids were similar, and it came down to interest rates. He said Southern Bank would have the best interest rates. Information provided showed Southern Bank’s interest rates at 3.83% compared to other interest rates of 1.1% to 3.5% at other banks.

Southern Bank used to be Citizens Bank and Trust, and the district already does its banking there.

Discussion was tabled until next school year about adding a school resource officer. Gott said he saw the value in having a SRO. However, he recommended tabling the matter because he wanted to see how things went financially. He commented that the market is unstable right now.

The board approved keeping the 2023-2024 tuition rate at $6,375 per year for kindergarten through 12th grade students. State law and Trenton Board of Education policy say the board must annually set the tuition rate for grade level groups.

The board approved keeping cooperative agreements for middle school sports with Pleasant View R-6 and Laredo R-7 school districts. Athletic Director John Cowling said he thought it was good for the students involved in the coops to be around coaches.

The board approved Special Education Teacher Amber Sprague for applying for a GEC Grant. The application was for $990, and the money would be used to help provide additional hands-on learning tools and activities in the special education classroom.

A closed session was held for discussion of personnel matters, including teaching, coaching, and sponsor contracts.

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Jennifer Thies

Jennifer’s interest in radio began at a young age. She started as a news reporter at KTTN in January 2017, but previously worked almost a year and a half as an on-air announcer and with news at the NPR affiliate KXCV/KRNW, which serves Northwest Missouri. Jennifer was born and raised in St. Joseph, Missouri. She received a Bachelor of Science in Mass Media: Broadcast Production with an Emphasis in Audio Production from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville.