Board, Facility Committee to get together in April

Thursday, February 28, 2002

While it would appear that the Marshall Facility Committee will not have a recommendation for the Marshall school board in April, the two entities will still meet next month.

At Tuesday's meeting of the Marshall Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools Joe Aull reported that it would be "premature" for the Facility Committee to give a recommendation in April as originally projected. That group is the second incarnation of a committee formed to explore what the school district should do to address facility needs.

Aull said the committee's recommendation would probably come in early summer. However, he suggested a meeting in April to allow the board to have a general idea of what options the committee is exploring.

Board Treasurer Jeff Stubblefield said it would be better to hold a special meeting rather than adding the committee to the agenda of the board's regular meeting. This would allow for the committee to have the board's full attention.

School board Vice President Raymond Thompson agreed and added that the meeting should be scheduled after the April election. Three board positions will be open in the election, and since board member Phil Perkins has chosen not to run for re-election, at least one member of the board will be new.

The previous Facility Committee recommended the construction of two elementary buildings on land commonly known as the Newell Property in the northwest portion of the city. The district made two attempts to have a bond issue passed for the project, but was unable to attain the four-sevenths majority required.

A petition is currently being circulated by the Missouri School Boards Association which would place a measure before voters to reduce the four-sevenths requirement for school bond issues to a simple majority. Board President Ed Kays said the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate are also considering joint resolutions which would also put the measure to voters.

Board members discussed ways to gather signatures for the petition should the resolutions fail to pass in the General Assembly. Among the suggestions were posting copies of the petition at places of business, having volunteers get signatures at supermarkets and to have all district employees who support the measure sign the petition.

The MSBA is asking districts to acquire signatures equal to the number of students attending classes there. As of Tuesday, the Marshall district had an enrollment of 2,370, Aull said. That was an increase of four students since the end of the quarter in December, but was not the turnaround the district was hoping for.

While the district set record attendance levels a few years ago, cutbacks at local industries last summer have sent Marshall's enrollment to the lowest level in a decade.

Aull has reported that if this trend does not end, the district could face a loss of state aid which could approach $1 million. He said Tuesday that an administrative team is working to develop a two-year plan for dealing with this possibility.

In a matter related to the April election, Community Teachers Association President Audrey Connor reported that a candidates forum has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, March 25, in the Marshall High School Little Theatre.

All 12 candidates who have registered to run for the office will be invited to participate. The format of the forum will give each the opportunity to speak and answer questions.

Finally, Aull reported that the district had received its third consecutive waiver from inspection by the Missouri School Improvement Program. By meeting and exceeding the state's requirements, the district has postponed its next possible inspection until the 2004-2005 academic year.

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