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March 29, 2021, SSD200 Board meeting

The Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on Monday, March 29, in the Heckart Performing Arts Center. All members of the Board were present, with Board Treasurer Kenny Coffelt joining via video conference.

The board was presented five different salary structure scenarios for the 2021-22 school year, all of which include the board-approved 4.3 percent increase in insurance costs. Superintendent Steve Triplett discussed the options with the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, The district started the school year projecting $4.5 million in deficit spending, but has made some of that up. Triplett said there is some federal COVID-19 funding coming in, but it is not enough to make up for ongoing costs. Triplett noted that the district cannot keep spending if revenue doesn’t increase. The recommendation from the salary committee is a $1,000 stipend to full-time staff in recognition of extra duties brought on by the pandemic; part-time staff working 30 hours or fewer each week would get a $500 stipend with full-time substitutes receiving a one-time $750 payout. While the base salary would not change, a step increase would be included on salary schedules. Triplett noted that some positions currently are capped, but he is looking to extend up to Step 30. Board President Dr. Jeff Sharp asked if holding base pay steady would hurt recruitment. Triplett said his team is looking at area districts and for examples, Sedalia 200 is on par with Marshall but ahead of Warrensburg. While being competitive with area districts is always a concern, administrators need to know more about enrollment for next year before adding a large amount to payroll; if enrollment rebounds, “We will be in good position to make an impact on salaries,” Triplett said, noting that increases for many hourly employees were approved during an earlier meeting. “We are trying to stay competitive, but making changes for 750 people adds up quickly,” he added. The board will vote on the salary structure at its next meeting.

During the COVID-19 update, Assistant Superintendent Jason Curry said currently no staff members are in quarantine; there are nine students in quarantine with just one having tested positive. He said all advice from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pettis County Health Center and the state Department of Health and Senior Services is to keep mask requirements in place. The second round of COVID vaccinations will be offered Friday, April 9 in the FEMA building at Smith-Cotton Junior High on a first come, first served basis. Board Member Matthew Herren asked if there is any indication when mask mandates/recommendations be lifted. Curry said the consensus is that no one knows at this time. On March 15 last year, a national state of emergency was declared and two days earlier Gov. Mike Parson signed a statewide emergency declaration, which last week was extended through August. Herren suggested that two weeks after staff have had the option for their second round of the vaccine, make masks optional for students and staff. Triplett said all county superintendents meet every two weeks to discuss pandemic issues and that the county health center’s mask mandate is still in effect. With contact tracing and quarantines still required by the state, Triplett said the mask requirements have allowed the district to be successful in keeping students in class. With 43 days of school remaining and Prom and Commencement planned, he believes staying the course is the best practice. “Could it work without masks? I don’t know,” he said, adding that there have been no conversations about starting the 2021-22 school year with a mask requirement. Board Member Michael Stees said the UK variant of the virus is coming and that health officials are seeing surges again in other areas, He warned against making changes too soon. 

Also Monday:

-- The board accepted the low qualifying three-year bid from current contractor B&C Mowing for the district mowing contract. It includes a 5 percent annual increase.

-- The board approved renewal of IBG as its insurance partner. Included is a switch from Guardian to Principal for dental and vision coverage, which brings a 2.5 percent decrease in costs for a savings of $137,000. 

-- The board approved a custodian position for the Loftus Early Childhood Center, which will require 2.5 positions to cover its needs. A half position will come from another building and the current ECC custodian will transfer to the new facility. For the new position, 60 percent of the salary will be paid through federal funds.

-- Bids for surfacing the ECC playground were rejected on recommendation from Construction Manager Dennis Paul; rebidding will be posted soon.

-- The CSIP plan remains the same and is still under MSIP5; next year will be the pilot year for MSIP6 with implementation in the 2022-23 school year. With no data to work from last year due to the pandemic, goals remain in place until new data is collected this year.

-- Missouri Public Risk evaluated the district and its report was positive. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Todd Fraley credited the Strategos assessment and training from a few years ago in addressing issues. 

-- The board recognized Dugan’s Paint and Flooring, which donated 50 gallons of hand sanitizer to the district.

-- Paula Schupp of the Sedalia School District Foundation shared details about a fundraiser for the Brendan Eisenmenger Student Impact Fund through Missouri Propane. Also, a new scholarship will be added for vo-tech students attending State Fair Community College.

-- SCEA President Shelley Lutjen reminded the board that four scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded to seniors whose parents are SCEA members. Retiree recognitions will be held in May.