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Paul Stoner takes seat on Jackson R-2 School Board

Paul Stoner and incumbent Brian Thompson took the oath of office at the Jackson R-2 Board of Education meeting on April 9. Stoner previously served on the School Board for three years. He replaced Dan Stover, who chose to retire from the board.

Stoner is the station manager at Cape Girardeau’s FedEx Express and has lived in Jackson for 15 years. His wife, Summer, works as a library assistant at the junior high, and they have two daughters who attend Jackson High School. Stoner said he felt in his heart it was time to get back involved with the Board. He said he joined to serve and contribute to the District.

The Board elected its officers, re-electing Kelly Waller as president and Thompson as vice president. Bonnie Stahlman will continue as secretary of the Board and Director of Finance Terry Gibson will serve as treasurer. Board Member Bruce Thomas will continue his role as the District’s delegate to the Missouri School Boards’ Association.

In other action:

• The Board made a motion to move forward with Anthem for 2019-20 employee benefits. The District has been with Anthem for 18 years, but Superintendent John Link said this was a tough negotiation with the health insurance provider.

Link said last year the company wanted to increase the District’s cost by nine percent, but was talked down to a three percent increase. This year, Anthem initially increased the District’s cost by 15.5 percent. After the District started looking at changing to United Health Care’s plan, Anthem lowered the increase to three percent.

Link said the United Health Care plan would have been a zero percent increase for the District, but would not have covered prescription drugs as well. “We would be saving money, but we would be saving money on the backs of our employees,” Link said. “A lot of those pharmaceuticals would have gone from a $10 copay to a $75 copay.”

Link said that by staying with Anthem, no one’s coverage would change.

• The District approved continuing general banking services with First State Community Bank, after a bank bidding process. Missouri state law requires school districts to bid out their banking services every five years, and seven banks responded to the District’s request for bids.

After an analysis by Director of Finance Terry Gibson, First State Community Bank and Southern Bank were seen as having the strongest bids. Gibson said the two bids stood out for having low interest rates and waiving fees.

Gibson advised to stay with First State Community Bank, due to the low bid and the exceptional customer service over the past five years with the District.

• Jackson choir students were recognized by the board for their participation in three national honor choirs sponsored by the American Choral Directors Association. The students auditioned in September and traveled to Kansas City to perform in late February.

• Elementary administrators Jessica Simmons and Dr. Lance McClard were congratulated by the Board for their recent awards from the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP).

Simmons, who serves as assistant principal at Orchard and North Elementary schools, was recognized as the outstanding assistant principal for the Southeast Missouri region.

McClard, who is the principal at both North and Millersville Elementary, was chosen as the Missouri distinguished principal by MAESP and will go to the national meeting of distinguished principals in Washington, D.C., later this year. He is the first principal from Southeast Missouri to ever receive this honor.

• Third grade students and teachers from South Elementary shared some of the projects they did for global learning and engagement. Some of the projects included a lemonade stand to raise money for St. Jude, donate school supplies for a flooded school in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, writing letters to the Philippines, practice reading through a “review surgery” game, participate in a famous Missourian wax museum and exchanging postcards with people from other states.

A final project shared was a Fear Factor challenge, where they practiced math word problems in a team game. The students challenged the Board to play a few rounds, solving math questions and eating unusual food for bonus points. Board members ate used kitty litter, pig intestines, cow tongue and earthworms.

• Gloria Stoverink and Sarah Beussink spoke to the Board about a Health Index Grant they are seeking to raise health and wellness awareness at West Lane Elementary.

As part of the program, they have made the cafeteria more encouraging of healthy eating through kid-friendly decorations. If they receive the grant, they will also purchase Glo Germ gel to teach students how to wash their hands better.

• The Board approved continuing to have full maintenance service from the Missouri School Boards’ Association. As part of this service, the Board receives updated policies and procedures to comply with changes in state and federal law. MSBA also maintains an online version of district policies and provides legal review of forms at the request of the District.

• The Board approved a summer school application. The program will run 16 days, from June 4 to June 25. This year, the high school will be expanding virtual classes, adding virtual government classes in addition to the virtual health classes that started last summer.

• Construction at West Lane Elementary is nearly completed, with Link showing the Board photos of the completed gym, main office and classrooms.

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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