Mexico School District No. 59 Board of Education members expressed appreciation of Scott Hobbs’ three years of service to the school board and his last year as the board's treasurer.

"He always had a neutral thought process and was able to keep an open mind," said member Heather DeMint, who was returned to the board from the April 2 election.

Stepping away from the board is going to be a change, Hobbs said, but he added the board is being left in good hands. Nicole Nelson was selected April 2 to take over his seat on the board and she, along with DeMint took the oath of office Tuesday when the board reorganized.

"(I want to) thank Scott for his public service. The board was better for his being on it," said President Dustin Pascoe.

Hobbs was presented with a plaque of appreciation during Tuesday's board meeting by Superintendent Zach Templeton. "Scott's attention to detail made him a great asset to the Mexico School District Board of Education," he said.

A desire to give back to his hometown is what motivated Hobbs in the first place to seek a seat on the board, he told The Ledger in 2016. One of Hobb's goals from that timeframe is closer to becoming a reality. The board entered into a final agreement in December for Strategos International to carry out a safety assessment of district buildings.

"I would just like to say thanks to the board,” Hobbs said. “This is a great bunch of people and Ms. Nelson, you're going to enjoy them. A lot of different perspectives and points of view.”

He also commended district administration and how the board is easily able to work with district staff.

Following the presentation, DeMint and Nelson took the oath of office. Board members then selected officers. Pascoe and DeMint were returned as president and vice president, respectively. Kelli Teel was chosen as treasurer and as an alternate voting delegate for Missouri School Board Association meetings. She will only vote at meetings if Nathan Birt, who was selected delegate, can not attend. Bethany Collins also was renamed board secretary.

The board heard an update on the elementary process. Parent letters are being printed for school assignments that the district is preparing to distribute. Templeton is arranging meetings with special education, English language learners and gifted education teachers to discuss how reconfiguration will impact those programs.

"I think we're on target,” Templeton said. “Once these letters go home, we may get a little rise in comments from those affected by the change, but overall I think we're ready for that."

The district screened 219 children for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten admission. The district will be able to add up to 60 more pre-k students. Even with reconfiguration, there will still be a waiting list, even with the addition of more pre-k classrooms. The district is in the process of creating introductory videos for students and parents that will be posted online.

Teacher salary schedules were approved Tuesday night. The base salary was increased by $1,500, which means first-year teachers will make $36,000 in the district, and the step raise for teachers with a master's degree was increased to $600 from $500 if they have been with the district for more than 10 years. Step raises are applied each year a teacher is with the district. This also gave a boost to the district's compression ratio, which is the average difference between the salary of first-year to more experienced teachers. The board also approved a comparable 5 percent increase for administrator salary.

In other business:

A check totaling $242,736 was accepted from the Ameren Energy Efficiency Incentive program. This three-year program allowed the district to save 1.3 million kilowatt hours. This check represents a reimbursement of two months worth of replacing light bulbs throughout the district with more energy efficient models. The program also allows the district more fiscal effectiveness in its light bulb purchases, bids and its overall energy usage. The Noteworthy Mexico High School choral performance group performed three songs at the meeting. The group, under the direction of vocal music teacher Julie Pappas, will have its Spring concert May 1 and a dinner-theater presentation May 5. The board approved updated personnel changes and summer school staff. The board rejected all bids for bank depository services. Requests for bids were not advertised in The Ledger as per board policy, so the board had no choice but to reject all bids. The board will revisit banking service bids at a later meeting, but prior to July 1. The board held first reading of a policy allowing gratuity reimbursement up to 15 percent on meals for staff and board members attending events. There was no reimbursement policy previously. Board approved full-time employee definition change, to comply with Affordable Care Act requirements. Full-time employees are now those who work 30 or more hours per week, or 130 hours per month.