Members say goodbye to three employees

Several "goodbyes" and "farewell wishes" were extended Tuesday night at the Mexico Board of Education regular monthly meeting, as two administrative staff members prepare to leave the district and one long-time employee plans to retire.
Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent and Board of Education Secretary Jennifer Baird, District Business Manager Tony Chance and Head District Nurse Diane Melahn were all three recognized for their service to the district.
Baird has served the district seven years and plans to relocate to the state of Washington, with her family. Chance has been with the district four years and has accepted a job with the Warrenton School District. Melahn, who started in 1991, offered her services to the district whenever needed, but says she's very confident her replacement will do well. Director Dr. Elwood Rice presented Melahn her Golden Apple for her dedication to the district.
Referring to his long-time friend as an "incredible woman and a fabulous nurse," Dr. Rice told Melahn "Our loss is your family's gain. We will miss you."
"Good luck and best wishes to all of you. You all will be missed," Board President Dr. Peter Perll told the trio. A cake and punch reception was held in the lobby outside the board room.
Tuesday night was Baird's and Chance's last Mexico School Board meeting. The board Tuesday night appointed Bethany Laird to replace Baird. The district hired Stephanie Norris to replace Chance, and Angie Anderson to replace Melahn.
Following the recognitions, it was business as usual with the board hearing from the LJ Hart finance investment consultants, who were there advising the directors about two bonds (2010C and 2011A general obligation bonds) that come payable in March 2015. The board members will decide at the July meeting if the district plans to cash in for an early refinance or hold off to capture more savings. There is no benefit to paying off the bonds early. The board agreed to hold off and take time to think about their long-range plans.
The board was presented with a draft of the 2013-2014 Student Handbooks to read and return next month with any concerns or suggestions. Directors also approved the district to declare items no longer needed for school purposes and try to sell them on the Internet versus holding a school auction.
Service contracts for speech language pathology, the Children's Therapy School and the School Resource Officers were all approved with a 7-0 vote.
Board members voiced concern about how often the high school randomly drug tests its students. The directors want to increase the number of tests given; as many as 20-30 a couple times a year, if possible.
"There might be more logistics, but it's worth it," Dr. Perll said. Less than 10 random tests are currently conducted during the school year by an outside agency.
The high school's student population dropped by 140 from August 2012 to May 2013. Per administration, the decrease is due mainly to early graduates, students relocating outside the district and dropouts.
"We started the year ranked ninth in population. By the end of the year, we were ranked one. There definitely was a big drop," District Superintendent Kevin Freeman told the board. "It's been an odd, strange year."
The meeting adjourned into executive session at 9 p.m.