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Jackson School Board looks into energy efficient lighting

The Jackson R-2 School Board has started the process to get energy-efficient lighting throughout district buildings. During the March 10 meeting, the Board approved a request for qualifications for the project.

“We want to explore the possibility of energy savings,” Associate Superintendent Keenan Kinder said. “We can upgrade things for our kids and end up saving money in the long run.”

He added that the District could get an energy-efficiency loan, where the savings made by changing the lights cover the loan payments with savings left over.

Kinder said administrators have met with several companies this year about moving to more energy-efficient lights, and all have said they could save the district money.

One audit found that the district has around 8,000 lights over its various buildings. Superintendent John Link added that “going LED is obviously the way to go with as many lights as we leave on.”

Link said the RFQ process will allow other companies to send in their qualifications before they choose one company to move forward with. “Once we pick one to work with, they will come back in to get really in-depth information and fine-tuned the numbers,” Link said.

Kinder added that once the project is further along, they will need to decide what lights should be worked on by District staff and which ones will need external professionals to install.

Link said the gym lights in the high school event center and the junior high gym are complicated due to being on dimmers, so those will most likely be worked on by an outside company.

In other action

• The Board honored winners of the Southeast Missouri State University Writing Achievement Awards. Four students from Jackson High School received placements or honorable mentions from the contest run by Southeast’s English department.

Macie Eldridge received an honorable mention in the 7-9 grade poetry category, while Riley Ries received an honorable mention in the 7-9 grade fiction category.

Hannah Mitchell received first place in the 7-9 grade essay category, and Sierra Skinner received first place in the 10-12 grade essay category. Both Mitchell and Skinner were unable to attend the board meeting due to school-related conflicts.

“We really cleaned house in the sense that there are 16 placements at the high school level and a quarter of the awards were from Jackson,” JHS English teacher Abigail Beckwith said.

All four students will be able to attend an award ceremony at Southeast in April and their work will be included in an anthology published by the university.

• Fourth-grade students and teachers from South Elementary School shared about their Wonder Wednesday program. The program puts aside the first 30 minutes of Wednesday classes for various creative and critical thinking projects.

Wonder Wednesday was started this year to help fourth-grade students communicate with each other, develop critical thinking and practice basic computer skills. It also helps students be allowed to fail in a safe place. The program is different every week, alternating between individual, partner and team projects.

Students showed board members an example of a Wonder Wednesday activity where teams of five raced to stack plastic cups without touching them directly. Each team had a rubber band that was connected to individual strings that each person controlled. The task required teamwork to stretch, tighten and maneuver the rubber band around each cup.

Students also shared vision boards that they created, as well as a poster students made during Wonder Wednesday for the school’s Veterans Day program.

• The board approved an audit bid from Beussink, Hey, Roe & Stroder L.L.C. Director of Finance Terry Gibson said he recommended their proposal over the one other bid because of their cost of $18,000 and having slightly more experience.

• The board approved several changes to board policies. One change, which was required by state law, was to allow those who have been found guilty of a federal misdemeanor to run for school board positions. Another change added the lease or sale of real estate as something that has to be executed by the board president.

An added policy outlines how the board can choose a construction manager at risk, if that is the construction method the board selects. The policy applies to road or utility projects exceeding $2 million, as well as other projects including new buildings exceeding $3 million.

Changes were also made due to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which amended the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). One of the requirements of this law is that districts have to have a policy to address allegations that the district is not following federal laws governing federal programs under ESEA. These complaints must be completely resolved by the district within 35 days of a written complaint being filed.

Other changes to board policies were made for clarification reasons or to remove redundancies.

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

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