The July meeting ushers in the new year for Jackson County School District 9. As part of the process, new members Dianne Mihocko and Dan Hodges were sworn in, and the board elected Mary Ann Olsen as board chairman, with Ted Dole as vice-chair. In Mary Ann’s absence, retiring chairman, Scott Grissom, handed the gavel to Ted.
A major item of concern for the board members was the introduction of BoardBook, an electronic data and information management program. In the pre-meeting work session, one member looked scared, but soon caught on. The program allows the board to go largely paperless. Each member has an iPad and can log onto the site for the agenda and associated links. Users will be able to edit, add notes, and perform other tasks. A BoardBook representative hosted a webinar initial-use training. Kathy Ascuena, Superintendent Rickert’s secretary, filled in the gaps. She is excited about the program, and available to folks as they tackle the learning curve. The board walked from the work session to the general meeting, iPads in tow, and the meeting proceeded smoothly. The public saw projected on a screen what the members saw on their iPads.
At the work session, Director of Human Resources Allen Barber updated the group on the Weapons Safety Committee. He explained that the committee of almost two-dozen consisted of people who had called about the issue. Members included law enforcement officials, teachers, parents, principals, and local citizens. People represented both sides, but stood united in their desire for student safety. The initial intent was to have one meeting. However, members and many others wish to discuss the matter further. All agreed on the need to improve building safety, thus averting a crisis situation. If a bad guy can’t make it through the front door, the students are safer.
Terry Marks addressed the student safety issue during the public forum session. As a man with extensive law enforcement background, he spoke firmly against armed teachers. He reasons that there is too much room for tragic error and that the level of necessary training would be impractical. Bob Pinnell also spoke against armed teachers, saying he felt his children would be less safe in that circumstance.
In her superintendent report, Cynda Rickert quoted, “United we stand, divided we fall,” and addressed the board, saying, “As we seat a new board of directors tonight, let me first express my gratitude for your service to our school district and community.” Some of her June activities included EPHS graduation, end-of-the-year excellence celebration and retirements at Arthur’s, leadership/team building development, meetings with employees, and an administrative retreat in preparation for 2013-14 school year.
Director for School Improvement Tina Mondale reviewed the OAKS test scores, and while D9 students haven’t reached all achievement benchmarks, the gap is closing. She applauded the progress.
As the meeting closed, Rickert welcomed Tiffanie Lambert, the new Director of Special Services. She replaces Doug McKenzie, who recently retired.
The evening ended with a positive attitude, as the board and administration ready themselves for the upcoming 2013-14 school year.