Board has full agenda
The Mexico School Board met last night at 7 p.m. with full attendance. The evening's lengthy agenda was accepted with no staff or patron input.
The Board congratulated Nancy Baker on being named the Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year.
This year Mexico High School is sending 12 students to compete in the National Forensic League district competition, held in St. Louis at Clayton and Pattonville High Schools, March 6-8, for the chance to qualify for the national competition. Two participating students performed their speeches for the Board. Alex Shaw, a two-time state first runner up, performed a humorous interpretation from the series, "Artemis Fowl." Sydny Groves performed a humorous speech, titled "Children's Story," about a little princess who refused to use her potty.
The Board thanked the students for the performances and wished them luck in competition. The Board also wished Mexico wrestlers luck in state competition, beginning Thursday. The Board thanked participants of the highly successful Polar Bear Plunge. Congratulations were also offered to Jacob Lauer on being named Mr. Bulldog and to the students who participated in the Middle School athletic banquet, held earlier that evening.
During building reports, Board member Robby Miller asked principals in attendance for examples of techniques teachers have tried to improve on student reading levels. Principals are implementing data from their reports and practicing guided reading daily, but the principals emphasized that reading is a complicated subject that becomes even more difficult to teach when dealing with classes of 22 students, reading at various levels. That's why students are being looked at individually rather than in large groups and asked to track their own progress as they read and learn.
Board member Elwood Rice asked if all of the teacher's research reports were consistent throughout the district. All teachers follow the same reporting standards and therefore all findings are consistent, regardless of what teacher records the information.
In the attendance report, Board member Beverly MacFarlane stressed that students should be taught the importance of attending school. Reportedly, 127 high school students are still below the district goal of a 90 percent attendance rate.
The Improvement Plan reported good growth this year in student reading levels, but due to the beginning scores students aren't necessarily better off than at this point last year.
Mexico High School is reporting a 78.8 graduation rate for the year of 2013, with an 80.7 percent four year average. The projected graduation rate for 2014 is yet unknown, until more data can be collected.
The Salary and Welfare committee gave a report on how the District can make Mexico a more appealing place for teachers. The Committee found that Mexico teachers with 10 years of experience or more are being offered lower wages than that of their peers in other area districts. The Mexico District also offers fewer incentives for teachers who have received Master's degrees.
The Committee's Professional Development report found that teachers would like more classroom preparation time and more time to collaborate with other teachers from their own and other buildings.
The Committee suggested to the Board that teachers would benefit from higher salaries, better benefits (dental and vision), and allowed accumulated sick days to be paid out or used at teacher's discretion, with building administration approval. Currently teachers are offered two personal days, but are not allowed to use available sick days as additional personal days, if necessary. The Committee suggested that teachers be offered 12 days to use as personal or sick days, depending on which is needed by the individual teacher.
Miller said the salary difference in teachers with 10 years experience was troubling, but he also noted that Mexico has a lower performance rate than districts with higher salaries.
The Treasurer's report found that the district bank account balance is high, due to recently receiving construction bonds and yearly tax revenue. The district is $650,000 ahead of last year's balance, but most of this surplus is expected to dwindle by the end of the year.
During the budget discussion it was decided that voting for teacher salary increases and additional benefits would take place next month. The Board voted unanimously to request a Request for Proposal (RFP) from architects for a ten-year facility plan, along with the 2015-2016 calendar, which the Board was not ready to finalize.
The District will donate 15 poster-sized photographs to be sold in a fundraiser by the Bulldog Booster Club. The Board unanimously approved the replacement of 10-20 pictures every year to keep the photos up-to-date. It was feared that if the pictures were left on display too long, they would lose relevancy.
The Board then adjourned to an executive session.