The last week of January is designated as School Board Appreciation Week. It allows us to say thank you to our Board of Education. The Board continues to do a tremendous job by truly valuing the students and staff of our school district. Thank you for taking time to recognize our Board for a job well done!
Board Members l. to r. Diana Rice, Tim Brown, Floyd Hawkins, Kelly Scott, Sharon Dankenbring, Gary Thompson, and David Shrout
Adopted by the Board of Education in October of 2016, the Facilities Master Plan outlines the District's capital improvement goals for the next ten years. The six projects included in the April 4 bond election were all included in the Master Plan. Also included in the master plan is the eventual relocation of the Transportation department, Maintenance department, Warehouse, and Central Office as well as the construction of a sixth elementary school. The timeline for these projects will depend on various factors including the District's bonding capacity as well as other capital improvement needs.
In 2006 the District purchased 27 acres along 24 Highway across from Fire Prairie Upper Elementary. Although the site is near the main campus it does create some challenges due to the cost of developing the site for District use. Therefore, the land has been on the market and the District has been looking to purchase other property that would better meet the future needs.
The Board recently approved the sale of the existing 27 acres and the purchase of 37 acres which is located directly east of Fire Prairie Upper Elementary and Lewis and Clark Academy. The 37 acres will better meet the future needs of the District because of its location and overall lower cost to develop.
The proceeds from the sale of the 27 acres is being utilized to help purchase the 37 acres. The remainder of the purchase price is being financed over 10 years. This will will not impact other financial decisions like potential salary increases, supply and material budgets, etc. as the annual payments are less than a teacher’s salary.
The district will be offering Health Screenings to employees this spring. The health screenings along with the health risk assessment are important tools to help people understand and monitor their health and wellbeing. If you are on the district’s health insurance please attend the screening and complete the Go365 online/app health risk assessment. If you have not logged into Go365 you should do so as soon as possible. The health risk assessment and the health screening are worth a total of 3000 points toward reaching Silver Status. If over 40% of participants on the plan reach Silver Status the district will be able to receive up to an 8% discount on next year’s premium renewal.
Attending the screening and completing the assessment isn’t mandatory. However, those who do not participate in a health screening and do not complete the health risk assessment by August 1 will be charged $30 per month beginning in December 2018. Employees may visit their own doctor for a physical in lieu of the health screening portion. However, the information must be logged into Go365 by August 1 to avoid the $30 monthly fee.
The health screenings that were conducted in the fall were put on by Blue Cross Blue Shield. The switch to Humana prompted a move in the timing of the health screenings and all staff are encouraged to attend even if they attended a screening last fall. After this school year the screenings will be held one time per year in the spring.
The following are the upcoming health screening dates. The times and locations will be forthcoming as we work on scheduling.
Health Screening Dates
We continue to find it difficult to fill all sub positions each day. We understand this is frustrating and we are continuing to look at what we can do to encourage current subs to work more often and to recruit more substitutes in our pool. In doing research we have found other districts are experiencing the same problem regarding fill rate, even those who pay more. We have also changed some settings in the Absence Management System so it makes a job available and continues to call subs even after the start time of the job. Additionally, the board approves the hiring of subs each month as we interview and onboard subs regularly but many subs also resign each month.
We currently have 118 active subs. This number is similar to the amount we had last year. However, this number is not sufficient to fill all positions as nearly 40% of Fort Osage subs also sub in other districts, most subs do not accept jobs every day, and many subs will only work at a few schools. As a result of all these challenges we are finding it difficult to gain traction on building up the sub pool. We will continue to look at ways to increase the sub pool in order to get substitutes in the classrooms and look at what we can do for the existing subs in order to make them want to work more often.
Everyone can help to reduce this problem by entering absences into the system as soon as you know you will be gone. This helps make jobs available to subs for a longer period of time. We will continue to work on recruiting, hiring, and retaining subs as we know it is better for students and staff to have as many qualified subs as possible in the pool. If you know anyone who has at least 60 college credit hours from an accredited university, enjoys working with kids, and who is looking for part-time work please have them apply at https://fortosage.tedk12.com/hire/index.aspx.
There are ten candidates for the Missouri Commissioner of Education position. Currently the state board only has three members because the Senate has yet to approve Governor Greitens’ five nominees to the Board. The Board will not be able to act until they have at least five confirmed members, which may not be until the end of the session in May. Roger Dorson is currently serving as the interim commissioner. Dr. Dorson previously served as the deputy commissioner of the Division of Financial and Administrative Services with DESE.
Stadium and Warehouse Freezer: The work for both projects has continued with completion scheduled for this summer.
Early Childhood Center: The board approved the bid for the ECC at the January meeting. The project is scheduled to begin as soon as weather permits.
Walking Trails and FPUE Playground: The existing walking trails at Buckner, Blue Hills and Elm Grove are being resurfaced along with the hard play area at the Fire Prairie playground. The bid will be taken to the board in February with work beginning this spring.
Roof Tops: The bids for roof repairs at Fire Prairie, Blue Hills and the District Warehouse are scheduled to go to the board at the February meeting. Work will be done this summer.
High School Breezeway: The bid is scheduled to go before the board at the February meeting. Work will be done this summer and is scheduled to be completed before school begins next year.
The legislative session began on January 3 in Jefferson City. There are several bills that have been introduced that are being montored that would impact education. Funding, vouchers and charter school expansion continue to be a topics of discussion.
Senate Bill 612 is a voucher tax credit bill that would utilize money from the state's general revenue fund. In addition to a variety of studies showing that voucher programs are ineffective in educating students, the funding for the bill is a major concern. Currently in Missouri transportation alone is $201 million underfunded. Additional monies taken from the general fund will likely impact existing schools and programs even further.
House Bill 2247 is a charter school expansion bill that would allow charter expansion in all school districts in the state where individual school buildings have scored 60% or less on their APR. The bill was just introduced on Wednesday but has quickly gained traction.
For those of you interested, a $20 gift card to the Blue Springs movie theater will be given away to one lucky winner using the RNG. To enter please send an email to email@example.com with "Movie" in the subject line. Entries will be accepted until 8:00 am on Monday, January 29.
Give Away prizes are not purchased with District funds. Only Fort Osage employees are eligible to enter the drawing.