By Mary Wilson
After the last meeting’s push to redistribute funds and personnel in order to enhance student achievement, the Hickman Mills School Board met on September 4 to discuss and ultimately approve the adoption of a new proposal for reallocation.
The board members present unanimously approved the proposal for improved student achievement, with some modifications. Put forth by Budget Analyst Shellie Wiltsey and Associate Superintendent of Elementary Casey Klapmeyer, the proposal had eight areas of redistribution. According to Wiltsey and Klapmeyer, the agenda of the board was taken, and meetings were conducted along with research to determine the best plan of action. The two presented the findings to the board thus far.
Included in the proposal were increases in salaries for certified and non-certified staff members, who will each receive a step increase on their pay scales. According to Klapmeyer, staff has not received their step advances for many years in the district.
“This is not just more money, we are awarding years of service in order to motivate and improve morale,” said Board President Breman Anderson, Jr. “This is a small way for usto recognize the service teachers are giving. Next year, we need to look at creating a fund for continuing education in order to retain quality staff members. I don’t think there is any guarantee that it will raise student test scores, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.”
While several members of the board voiced concerns of needing to raise test scores, the need for additional elementary teachers, due to increased enrollment, was determined to be a necessity. The board approved the addition of eight elementary teacher positions, at a total of $450,000.
“How is adding additional teachers going to help us meet our goals and surpass our deficiencies?” asked Board Member Eric Lowe. “We have to fill that gap. If our students are not meeting the standard, we have to teach them this year, as well as teach them the things they didn’t learn last year. How are we going to measure their success at the end of the year? The steps do not deal with our issues of student achievement.”
It was discussed that funds need to be reallocated to help more children with reading in order to meet the Communication Arts standards by putting additional Reading Specialists in each elementary school.
“If we bring in reading and math specialists, and can come in contact with more children, I believe we will get to where we are supposed to be,” said Anderson.
The board decided that funds will be made available to add eight additional 550 Supplemental Reading
Teachers, along with the already allocated eight 550 Supplemental Math Teachers, for each elementary school. With excess grant funds, the board approved the Title I Elementary Textbook Adoption.
Of equal importance was the issue of homeless student transportation funds. It was discussed that the school
district was in contract with Kansas City Taxi to provide the transportation of homeless students, but it is still unclear as to what the contract specifically entails. According to Interim Superintendent Dr. Everlyn Williams, it is difficult to cut out funds for this service due to “place of origin” laws. This means that the district is responsible for fees associated with students who are staying out-of-district but claim their place of origin is within Hickman Mills. It was also voiced that there might be federal or state funds available for reimbursement of these charges to the district.
If the district can receive these reimbursements, along with unpaid invoice revenues from surrounding districts that share these costs, it was determined that this is where a portion of the funds will come from in order to pay for the additional staff members at the elementary level.
“We will only meet the standards if we put the money where the mouth is,” said Anderson. “If the kids can’t
read, we’ll be in trouble. We need more money allocated to reading in the 3-5 grade levels so we can meet these standards.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, the board voted 7-0 on the amended proposal for fund reallocation. The board then recognized member Bonnaye Mims for her twelve years of service to the Board as well as being elected into the Missouri House of Representatives.
The next regular meeting for the Hickman Mills School Board is on Thursday, September 20 at 7:00 p.m.