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Jackson R-2 School Board approves $1.2 million roof for South Elementary

The Jackson R-2 School Board approved a $1,181,725 bid from Coryelle Roofing to replace the roof at South Elementary School.

“It’s a large investment, but we want to get the most we can out of every dollar we put on that roof,” Assistant Superintendent Keenan Kinder said. “People driving by on Highway 25 aren’t going to know that we put $1.1 million up there, but our teachers, kids and staff in the classroom are going to know that the roof doesn’t leak anymore.”

Kinder said the roof at South Elementary has never been replaced in the 25 years it has been open. He added that many ceiling tiles at South have wet spots, despite being replaced at the start of the school year.

The district received nine bids for the roofing project – including from Cardinal Commercial LLC, W. James Taylor Inc., SIC Midwest, Kirberg Roofing Inc., Lakeside Roofing, Bi-State Roofing Systems Inc., Western Waterproofing Company Inc. and Cambridge Wilson & Company.

While the new roof was designed by Incite Design Studio, Kinder said the various bids did have a variety of materials used for the roof. “Coryelle uses a product called Duro-Last,” Kinder said. “It will provide better insulation than the TPO roofing, and we believe we will get a longer lifespan out of that roof.”

While Coryelle was not the lowest bid, Kinder said it was within a 15% variance from the lowest bid and Incite Design Studio was also confident in recommending Coryelle. The roof will beunder a 20-year warranty from Duro-Last.

Kinder said Coryelle has worked with three school districts in Missouri, who all had glowing reviews of the company. “They said there were no change orders during the process,” he said. “As you know, change orders can be a big deal and we’ve dealt with some of that in the past.”

Representatives from Coryelle attended the meeting and stated that the work would take around 15 working days to complete.

The project would be scheduled to take place over the summer and would be completed before the beginning of the school year in August.

In other action

• The board approved a bid from Bank of Missouri for the district’s bank depository services for the upcoming school year. The new contract will begin July 1.

The district received five bids for banking services for the upcoming year, with the option to extend the contract for an additional four years. The district received bids from Alliance Bank, Bank of Missouri, First State Community Bank, Montgomery Bank and Southern Bank.

Assistant Superintendent Matt Lacy said the recommendation came down to the fee structure and finance rates. The Bank of Missouri will not charge the district any fees and offered the highest interest rate based on a scenario given by the district.

The district has had banking services through First State Community Bank for the past five years.

The measure passed with a 5-0 vote. Board member Brandon Pylate abstained and board member Kristen Lewis was absent from the meeting.

• Superintendent Scott Smith gave an update on Proposition T, a 47-cent tax increase ballot initiative that would be used to increase staff salaries, if passed. Smith said the district’s central office team has presented information about the proposition to more than 20 different local groups including to all faculty members, PTOs, Rotary and the Jackson Ministerial Alliance.

Smith added that they already have 30 more presentations scheduled and are hoping to add additional presentations before the election on April 2. “If you have a group that would like to hear his talk, we’d be more than happy to,” he said. “We’ve talked to groups as small as four and as large as 200, so far.”

Smith said the majority of the presentations are on how the district receives funding and how that compares to other local school districts – citing a lower poverty rate and lower tax rate than nearby districts.

Assistant Superintendent Matt Lacy shared common questions the district has received from community members regarding the district’s financial situation – including previous cuts the district has made and how much the district spends on athletics.

“We trimmed $500,000 in requests this year,” Lacy said. “Our expenditures per pupil is lower than last year – going from approximately $10,800 to $9,800 per student. We have cut, but at this point we need more revenue.”

The district spent $1.4 million on athletics across all grade levels last year, not including transportation costs. Lacy said athletics account for 2.11% of the district’s budget.

Pylate asked what the reception has been from the public at these presentations, to which Smith said they have been overwhelmingly supportive. “Some of the community members that came into presentations as not huge supporters of it, have left with the main response of ‘why are our kids with less than other kids,’” Smith said.

Kindergarten teacher Tracie Beard spoke to the board in favor of Proposition T. Beard said she was there to speak on behalf of new professionals in the district. She has worked at Jackson R-2 for the past six years.

“The stress of making ends meet in a single income household is brutal,” Beard said. “Student loans, higher education costs and a 15% increase in rent are a few of the stressors that many new workforce members face.”

Beard said she regularly works 10 hour days, in addition to many hours of after school tutoring, kid’s club, summer school and summer camp to help combat financial stress.

“Students build relationships with the teachers and staff that make them love learning, love the community and love life,” Beard said. “Do you want your children to see a familiar face at school or a revolving door? We want teachers to stay in the district to build relationships with not only our students, but also our families. Teaching siblings of previous students has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job – I want to continue that for many more years.”

Board member Christine Warren asked district administrators why there hadn’t been a tax levy increase for the past 18 years.

“I think there’s probably a lot of different reasons, but I think we always had pride in doing more with less and trying to stretch the dollar as far as we can,” Smith said. “The district has done a great job of really trying to make sure that every dollar was spent as wisely as possible.”

Smith said the district has been able to stay competitive on salaries until the last four or five years due to property assessments and student enrollment growth, but the district hasn’t been able to compete due to the current economic conditions and the extra funding other school districts have received.

“We did not receive those federal dollars, so now other districts have been able to pull away,” he said. “I think we’ve tried to wait as long as possible to actually do an increase, but we can no longer wait.”

• Missouri All-State Choir members from Jackson High School were recognized by the board. Of the 16 students from the Southeast District in the all-state choir, Jackson had four students chosen for their singing abilities.

Anna Ahrens, Clarissa Vaught, Kya Pope and Owen Leckie were able to perform as part of the All-State Choir at the annual Missouri Music Educators Conference in January at Lake of the Ozarks. This year marked the 50th Missouri All-State Choir, with Venezuelan choral and orchestral conductor Maria Guinand directing the choir.

During the event, Anna Ahrens competed in a sight reading bee after getting a perfect sight reading score during her audition. Ahrens competed against 37 other all-state members, making it to the fourth of six rounds.

• The J-Click club at JHS was recognized for winning first place in the Missouri High School Buckle Up Phone Down Showdown.

The club was able to collect pledges from 1,104 students and community members that they would always wear their seatbelt and put down their phone when driving.

The Jackson club collected more pledges than any other school in the state, winning $5,000 for safety-related programs.

• During the financial report, Lacy shared that $1.3 million were added to the district’s capital projects fund as a result of selling 84 acres of surplus land last year.

• West Lane Elementary School students presented their paper bag bodies that helped them learn about human anatomy. The paper bag bodies, which the students were able to wear, included representations for their brain, heart, lungs and stomach.

The students were able to answer questions from the board members such as how big their heart is and what happens to their stomach when they eat a big meal.

• Kindergarten, first grade and second grade students from Millersville Elementary School presented their personal narrative writing to the board members and district administrators, demonstrating the progression the students go through at the different grade levels. The students used their iPads and Chromebooks to create their own book.

Photo by Jay Forness
West Lane students show their paper bag bodies during the school board meeting on Feb. 13.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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