May 2024 School Board Meeting

The Mount Vernon R-V Board of Education held a Regular Meeting on Thursday, May 16.  Below are some items of information:

The Board had the opportunity to recognize Nick Swillum as the MV-MVP for the month of May.  Mr. Swillum is wrapping up a 29 year career with the District next week and we wish him the very best in his next phase.  Mr. Swillum’s nomination is below:

Coach Swillum has built a well-respected baseball program for the past 29 years. He brings excellence to everything he touches...whether it is in the classroom or on the field. He is a great role model to his athletes. He is intentional about not only coaching baseball but teaching life-lessons that his athletes will draw upon throughout their lives. 

Coach Swillum fosters community and teamwork wherever he serves. He is a strong and steady presence in the school district. He always has a positive attitude and steps in where he is needed. Many look to him for wisdom and guidance through his many years of experience.

The Board also recognized our 2023-2024 District MVP.  Tammy Brashers was recognized on May 3rd as the overall winner.  Congratulations to both Mrs. Brashers and Mr. Swillum.

The first year of the Student Board Advisory Team was a great success.  The MVHS students participating had regular meetings with administration and had multiple opportunities to provide insight on behalf of their fellow students.  Jaden Wilson is graduating and the decision was made to replace him with two students who will be Juniors next year.

Alyson Barnes and Dhruti Patel will be joining current members Natalie Barker and Ryleigh Misemer to form our Student Advisory team for next year.

The Board received a lengthy update on Senate Bill 727 which was signed into law by Governor Parson this month.  The education omnibus bill includes a few harmful provisions and a few provisions that, if funded, will benefit public schools.  All of the provisions below are subject to annual appropriation.

  • Moves the minimum teacher salary to $40,000 in the 2025-2026 school year.
    • The minimum is currently $25,000.
  • The bill also moves the minimum salary for a teacher with a Masters Degree and 10 years of experience to $48,000 in the 2027-2028 school year.
    • The minimum salary for this level is currently $33,000.
  • A provision in the bill automatically increases these minimum salaries annually based on the Consumer Price Index up to 3%.
  • While this is a huge win for the educational community, it comes with some uncertainty.
    • Funding for this program is subject to annual appropriation, meaning that if revenue falls short, the state will not assist Districts with supplemental funding.
    • In that unfortunate scenario, Districts would be left to generate the revenue locally in order to meet the statutory salary requirements.
  • Senate Bill 727 incentivizes Districts to attend school 5 days a week.
    • Any school district attending 169 days or more will be eligible for bonus payments on the money received from the state formula.
    • The bonus would be 1% in the 25-26 & 26-27 school years and 2% beyond those years.
    • Mount Vernon currently attends 166 student days.
  • The Bill contains a change to the formula used to calculate a District’s Weighted Average Daily Attendance.
    • Currently, WADA is the central driving force behind state funding.
    • SB 727 modifies WADA to include a Districts enrollment.
      • Initially the formula payment will be based on a calculation of 90% WADA and 10% enrollment.
      • This continues to shift annually until the formula payment is based on 50% WADA and 50% enrollment in the 2030-31 school year.
  • The Bill increases the percentage of free and reduced eligible 3-5 year old's the District can include in ADA from 4% to 8%.

Two provisions included in Senate Bill 727 are not subject to annual appropriation.

  • The first is the dramatic expansion of voucher tax credits.
    • This program allows families to claim a tax credit equivalent to the amount paid in private school tuition.
    • In other words, the program diverts public tax money to private schools.
    • For several years the program was capped at $25 million statewide and the usage of the program had never come close to that amount.
    • Nevertheless, the program is now increased to $75 million and includes a mechanism to grow the amount of money available to match the amount of revenue paid to public schools.
  • SB 727 also established the use of charter schools in Boone County.
    • Traditionally, charter schools have only been allowed in large school districts which were unaccredited.
    • However, all 8 school districts in Boone County are accredited by the state of Missouri.
    • This very specific expansion sets a dangerous precedent of taking these types of decisions away from local voters and placing them in the hands of the state legislature.

Meanwhile, the state budget outlook for 2024-2025 looks promising.

  • The state formula was recalculated based on the latest MSIP results.
  • Due to the fact there are very few performance Districts, the weighted thresholds and the state adequacy target were both modified in the favor of school districts.
    • We are very hopeful that this will result in an increase to state formula revenue in the 24-25 school year.
  • The Teacher Baseline Salary Grant will be funded at $40,000 for the upcoming year.
    • This has been at $38,000 for the past two years.
  • Full transportation funding and adequate Career Ladder funding were also included in this year’s budget.

The Board was happy to hear from the CTA Salary and Welfare Committee.

  • The committee shared the following priorities from the group:
    • Professional Staff Priorities:
      • Salary Schedule Increase
      • Continuation of Board Paid Insurance
      • Full participation in Career Ladder
      • A change to 10 days of PTO instead of 5 PTO/5 Sick Leave
      • Flexible Last Day of School
    • Support Staff Priories:
      • Continuation of Board Paid Insurance
      • Salary Increase
      • Professional Development (Paraprofessionals)
      • Increase to Lead Custodial Stipends
  • Salary/Welfare proposals are brought to the Board at the Regular June Meeting.

The Board approved an Artificial Intelligence Policy and Procedure as recommended by MSBA and a local committee.

  • Students, teachers, and administrators recently met to discuss the appropriate place of AI in classrooms and the consequences of misuse.
  • These policies were also adopted into the student handbooks of each campus.

A report was given on the financial implications of extending the District’s relationship with First Student as our transportation partner versus undertaking student transportation independently.

  • The District compared annual costs to the expenditures of two Missouri Districts who travel the same number of miles on an annual basis.
  • The study found that costs were very close to the same for these two districts with Mount Vernon having spent a little less over a 9 year period.

The Board approved a new District Assessment Plan.

  • A copy of the plan is attached to this post.

In Closed Executive Session:

Summer School staff was approved for the summer term beginning in 12 days.

The following information was provided to the Board regarding personnel:

Tracy Jensen has announced her retirement from her part-time position as Gifted Instructor effective at the end of this academic year.

  • Mrs. Jensen served the District from 1983-1988 and again from 2007 to 2024.

Hailey Partch has submitted a letter of resignation from her position as First Grade Teacher at MVES effective at the end of the academic year.

  • Mrs. Partch joined the District in August 2023 and spent this year with us as a First Grade Teacher

Tara Strother-Zent has resigned from her Paraprofessional Position at the ELC effective at the end of the academic year.

  • Mrs. Strother-Zent joined the District in 2022 and spent the past two years as a Special Education Paraprofessional at the ELC.

Emma Wiese resigned from her Special Education Paraprofessional Position on Monday, April 29.

  • Mrs. Wiese joined the District in August 2023 and spent this year as a Special Education Paraprofessional at MVES.

Emily Kerr resigned from her Special Education Paraprofessional Position effective at the end of the academic year.

  • Mrs. Kerr joined the District in August 2023 and spent this year with us as a Special Education Paraprofessional at MVES.

Josh Low resigned from his position as a Middle School Girls Basketball Coach.

Mary Peterson is moving from her position as a Fifth Grade Teacher at MVIS to the recently vacated First Grade Position at MVES.

Beth Johnson has agreed to expand her time with the District next year to take on the Gifted courses left vacant by Mrs. Jensen’s retirement.

  • Mrs. Johnson served as our High School and Middle School Gifted Teacher this year and will take on the program K-12 next year.

The Board approved the following personnel recommendations:

Andrea Piepenbrink for the vacant Special Education Position split between MVIS and MVMS.

  • Mrs. Piepenbrink has most recently been teaching in Monett and worked for Mount Vernon Schools prior to joining Monett.
  • This is to replace Jamie Wasson-Jones who resigned in February.

Jennifer Dunn for the vacant Fifth Grade Position at MVIS.

  • Mrs. Dunn has been a high quality, reliable substitute teacher in Mount Vernon since 2010.
  • Previous to substitute teaching, Mrs. Dunn spent six years teaching in the Monett School District.
  • This is to replace Mary Peterson who is transferring to a First Grade Position.

Lauren McKinzie for the vacant Math Position at MVHS.

  • Mrs. McKinzie is joining us from Aurora where she has been teaching Math.
  • This is to replace Ethan Trokey who resigned last month to accept an administrative position in East Newton.

David Nordyke for a Special Education Paraprofessional position at MVIS for the 2024-2025 school year.

  • Mr. Nordyke is a long-time resident of Mount Vernon and a pastor in the area.

Hailey Brown-Burgess was approved to serve as a volunteer coach in the Coquette Program for the summer and into next year.

The next scheduled meeting of the Mount Vernon R-V Board of Education will be held on Thursday, June 20 at 7 PM in the District Administration Office Board Room.