The building bond issue is back.
The Marshall Board of Education held the longest open session in recent years Tuesday, Sept. 25, and covered a number of issues during more than 2 1/2 hours.
Among the agenda items was a call by President Kathy Green to revisit the question of whether to place a bond issue on the April 2013 ballot.
Board member Wayne Crawford, who served as chairman of the citizen committee to promote the previous two bond issue campaigns, was ready to vote on the question.
"Personally, I think it goes on every ballot until it passes," Crawford said. "It isn't going to go away."
But Superintendent Ryan Huff said the board needs to iron out some details first, and the board opted to hold a special meeting for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, to consider specific ballot language.
There's a clear consensus among members of the board that new buildings are needed, but the board may reconsider how it makes the case to voters.
Board member Douglas Koehn urged the board to consider new methods of promotion, noting that Fitzgibbon Hospital even brought in professional development people to help with the capital campaign for the cancer center a few years ago.
He suggested the campaign look at making use of social media this time around.
Board member Mike Mills, who ran for a position on the board following the most recent bond issue, said he remains committed to reconfiguring elementary classes. Marshall currently is one of the few districts in the state to organize elementary classes into single-building attendance centers.
"I think the emphasis should be on getting our children into multilevel schools," he said. "It needs to be about the kids, not the buildings."
Green said the two are linked, though.
"We're spending so much on these old buildings," she said, noting that high maintenance costs cut into funding for staff and programs.
In other business, the board agreed to endorse a resolution supporting Proposition B, an issue on the November ballot that would increase cigarette taxes in Missouri.
Prop B, if approved by voters, would increase taxes by 3.65 cents per cigarette plus 25 percent of the manurfacturer's invoice prices for roll-your-own tobacco products and 15 percent for other tobacco products, according to the resolution text.
The tax would increase the cost of cigarettes an estimated 73 cents per pack.
Half the revenue from the tax would go to K-12 education, and the rest would go to higher education and smoking prevention programs.
Koehn said he was in favor of the measure not only because it would generate revenue for schools but because it could help reduce smoking among students.
Huff noted that Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, at 17 cents per pack. The average tax per pack is $1.46, he said.
The most time-consuming part of the board's agenda were extensive reports on student achievement from building-level administrators, who provided the board with detailed test result data and answered questions about what steps are being taken to address areas where scores are lagging.
The board also heard program reviews for professional development and special education programs and finalized the job description language for the new curriculum director position.
Huff said he hopes to begin the search immediately and hopes to have a director hired before Christmas. The new director will start work July 1.
The meeting started with a presentation by Marshall FFA Chapter officers, who described the organization's activities and achievements. The chapter was named No. 1 in the state this year and is among the top 10 chapters in the nation.
In closed session, the board accepted the resignations of Albert Browder, bus driver; Tina Oeth, Marshall High School paraprofessional; Danielle Yates, Eastwood Elementary School kindergarten paraprofessional; and Marcy Cash, Bueker Middle School special education teacher.
The board also approved the employment of Santiago Alarcon, Eastwood Kindergarten paraprofessional; David Kennedy, MHS custodian; and Elezer Alverez, bus driver.
Although no mention was made during open session of the security incidents that led to brief school lockdowns Friday, Sept. 21, the closed session agenda was amended before the meeting to include the Sunshine Law exemption for discussions about security systems.
The meeting adjourned at 10:35 p.m. The next regular board meeting of the board will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23.