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Slater school board hears from students and parents

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 ~ Updated 8:27 AM

The Slater School Board had a large audience of parents and students during their meeting on Tuesday, April 20, 2010.

The Adventure Author Book Club which recently traveled to Warrensburg for the Children's Literature Festival gave a presentation to the board, talking about the authors they met and showing the posters and cereal boxes they made for after the event.

"We had a phenomenal day. It was wonderful," said Mrs. Schaefer, one of the teacher sponsors of the event.

Another group of parents and students, led by spokeswoman Becky Pointer voiced several concerns to the board.

One of the concerns was over $1,400 that band students raised through various fundraisers, which Pointer said was now "frozen."

"Is it normal to freeze the funds from school groups?" she asked, adding that the group wants answers.

Later in the meeting, Superintendent John McEachern said that he had asked the band director Jim Mize, whether a request to buy bongo drums for an upcoming program was a necessary expense, adding that the drums could be possibly be rented from VoxBox in Marshall or borrowed from other teachers in the school.

Another issue was over a field trip that the students were told they would be able to take with the funds.

"They earned the money, they were told it would be for a field trip," said Pointer. "If nothing else make out money orders for the kids that busted their tails off earning the money."

McEachern said that trip was a moot point, as he was told the date of the proposed trip conflicted with another school event and that is why they were not going.

"None of this had been discussed with administrators," he said, adding that no request for a field trip had ever been sent to the high school office or put on the calendar.

Pointer said she was also concerned about rumors that several good teachers are leaving the school district.

"It is my understanding that we have some excellent teachers that are leaving," she said. "If we're losing good teachers there is something wrong."

Board president Rick Hays told the group that they would "take everything you said under consideration and we will deal with it."

The group also expressed displeasure with losing band teacher Mize.

"I thought we had a good one when Mr. Mize came," said Pointer, adding how sad she was that he and his wife were leaving. "The kids were so enthused."

Mize and his wife, Ragena, the elementary principal, resigned in February, effective at the end of the school year. This was their first year at Slater.

Hays said the board was also concerned about the future of Slater's band.

"The board is also very concerned with band too. Several years ago we had a good band program here," said Hays.

He also told the group that they would discuss the fundraising issue in executive session.

"We have to follow proper procedures," he said. "But it hasn't fallen on deaf ears."

In other business the board approved participation in several federal programs including Titles I, IIA, IVA and V.

McEachern also discussed the preliminary 2010-2011 budget, telling the board he hoped they would be able to break even and "maybe even add a couple of percentage points" to the board's unrestricted reserve funds.

In board items, they discussed the extended day program. For the 2010-2011 school year instead of having the extra 20 minute session at the end of the day, it will be added into the day schedule.

Class for all students will start at 7:48 a.m. and dismiss at 2:51 p.m., said McEachern. The first 20 minutes will be used for the targeted instruction.

The board dismissed into executive session but did not take any votes, according to McEachern.

Contact Marcia Gorrell at marshallag@socket.net

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If someone is unhappy with the way things are going at their child's school, there is a protocol to follow to voice their concerns. In my experience, those concerns are taken seriously too. Makes you wonder if some here have taken those steps, or just complain here. Also, it was my understanding that the extended day is to work on targeted skills, not just prepare for the MAP test. Don't our children need to work on Reading and Math skills all year - not just for the MAP test??

-- Posted by opin on Sun, Apr 25, 2010, at 9:08 AM

The ELEMENTARY extended day has served its purpose. The pre-school through 8th graders were given a review for the MAP skills test. The tests are over. Extended day should be over. Kind of like when your sport season ends, you quit practicing at school. You can still work on skills at home, but you need a break from being locked into practice. Slater is planning to have it school wide next year before school.

-- Posted by Pasta on Fri, Apr 23, 2010, at 9:39 AM

I just dont understand how they can freeze fundraising money. If kids of that sport go out with parents to raise money for that sport, how can they not use the money for what it is raised? I donated to one of the sports organizations and if the money is not going to be used for that sport and the kid that I was donating to, then would I be out of line to ask for my money back? Had I known that my money was going to be used for the Slater School district to balance their budget I would have tried to help in another way.

-- Posted by iluvsports on Thu, Apr 22, 2010, at 3:10 PM

Katie76, would these literacy nights be to help one learn to read?-though you are right in me never having heard of it-my children have post graduate reading levels-as do I. I am capable of reading at home, do so, and have given that love of reading to my children. No, I didn't read the letter in January that I didn't receive-over sight by someone perhaps? No, I do not attend PTO meetings-until recently I worked graveyard shift (which also keeps me from arguing with my husband all night). No, I do not rely on my children to tell me what is going on at the school(which is why I have a standing agreement with the school that all corrispondance is to be MAILED to me, not sent with my children) . However the school apparently can't be bothered either. And since my children are teens I won't bother addressing the rest of the it. I will say there are some good teachers and faculty, but that is not always the case.

-- Posted by landreth on Thu, Apr 22, 2010, at 11:32 AM

landreth,perhaps you should have read the letter that was sent out in January about extended day, then you would have the correct information that all the parents received. Relying on a child for your information can be misleading. So many parents don't show their faces at school unless they have a complaint. The biggest complainers are the ones who never help their child at home, make sure they get a good breakfast and are at school on time, and never attend school functions. Have you attended any of the literacy nights that have been held throughout the year? Have you attended any PTO meetings? I don't think you really have a clue as to what the teachers are doing, which in addition to trying to teach the curriculum includes giving them the attention they don't receive at home, cleaning them up and feeding them when they get to school, and talking to them when they are upset because their parents fought all night Granted, there are some truly great supportive parents, but that is not always the case.

-- Posted by katie76 on Thu, Apr 22, 2010, at 8:54 AM

Sadly enough as a Slater student parent, this is the first I've heard of an extended day program. Why do the kids need to go an extra 20 minutes now? The teachers there don't utilize the time they have now, so what do they plan to do with the extra 20 minutes? Maybe they can actually use the time to HELP the children they are suppose to be teaching-what a novel idea. When I asked my child, she was told it was extra time for them to "calm down". Teachers can't get control of their classes without a cool down period? Or is this really a way to get extra money out of the government because the children are in school longer. If so be honest and say so instead of filling us with bull-again.

-- Posted by landreth on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 5:16 PM

It seems as though Mr McEachern has an ax to grind. He has done nothing to help the band or choir program since he has been here. What's the big deal about an instrument purchase when the kids have earned the money? Is he the one that knows what the program needs for equipment? All bands have needs for equipment. Band instruments and fragile and need repair or replacement. What, how, and when they are used is up to the teacher, not a superintendent. Does he make that same call when a coach needs new balls? I doubt it. We have kids that do not care or want to play sports in school and they do not have an outlet for thier interests. When I was in school, we had music groups that we could be proud of. Many times we would do well at district, and state competitions. In the last three years, the band has almost diminished to nothing. It looked as though Mr Mize was attempting to make that turn around. As I understand, there was no real attempt to find a replacement for Mr Mize for next year. Apparently someone from the staff, that once played an istrument, is going to take over. Is this a reflection of the amount of concern for our students? For someone that has no experience with the fine arts, he sure does seem able to "dance the two step" very well. Instead of trying to be our superintendent, maybe he would be better suited to being on "Glee!"

-- Posted by Disgruntled and concerned on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 11:26 AM

This is not the only group that has been told they could not spend the funds that they have earned. Students and parents are working hard on fundraisers so that their children can have the things they need for sports, activities, etc. and then coaches/teachers are being denied use of these funds when a purchase order is submitted. Student fundraisers should not be a way for the superintendent to balance the budget. These funds were raised for the kids.

-- Posted by sickofit on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 10:29 AM

Marcia checked with John McEachern, who explained that the closed session was actually called to discuss personnel matters.

-- Posted by Eric Crump on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 9:23 AM

Hey, who in the newsmedia read the story above? I didn't realize that "fund raisers" constituted an "executive session" item for school boards! Thought that only issues of personnel, legal issues and student disciplinary items were "closed session" items. Maybe one of our reporters can enlighten us on this item.

-- Posted by Yamahahamma on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 7:16 AM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
We'll inquire with school officials about that. You're right. School fundraising issues, by themselves, would not qualify for discussion in closed session. If the board wished to discuss personnel matters related to fundraising practices, that might qualify, as I understand the Sunshine Law.

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