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R-2 School Board members sworn in; Waller president

Incumbents Kelly Waller and Sheila King took the oath of office at the Jackson R-2 Board of Education meeting on April 10, stating they will support the state and national constitution and impartially fulfill their duty in leading the Jackson School District.

Superintendent John Link presided as temporary chair of the Board during the swearing in.

Waller was reelected as president and Brian Thompson will remain vice president. Bonnie Stahlman and Bleau Deckerd will continue in their respective roles as secretary and treasurer. In the only change to the Board’s organization, Bruce Thomas replaced Thompson as the delegate to the Missouri School Boards Association. All reorganization votes were unanimous and no position had more than one nominee.

In other action:

• The Board approved the 2018-2019 Employee Benefit Package. Link said the administration meets with a committee of teachers, retired teachers and support staff for input on employee benefits. The Board accepted the committee’s recommendation to continue the plan from the past two years from Anthem with a two percent increase.

The initial renewal rates from Anthem were deemed too high by the District, but when the District started looking elsewhere, Anthem lowered the renewal rate to the two percent increase. The district received a lower percentage from another carrier, but the committee did not think it was worth changing providers for a small difference.

• The Board approved its continued membership with the Missouri School Boards’ Association. The dues for membership are $9,334, which does not include the use of the organization’s policy recommendations. Link said the invoice for the policy assistance has not come in yet.

Thomas said being part of the organization has been useful in the past. Link said it is like insurance, it’s useful when you need it and seems expensive when you don’t. Members have access to legal assistance, board training and access to other programs provided by MSBA.

• An evaluation of food services for the district was approved by the board. The district’s food service objectives are to provide nutritious breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks. The district aims to provide these meals as economically as possible, handle the food in a safe manor and provide nutritional education to promote the health and wellness of the district community.

Changes to food service procedures included new guidelines in purchasing food in a bidding process and new professional training guidelines for the food service staff. Directors are now required to do 15 hours of annual training, while cafeteria managers will have 10 hours and all staff members will have six hours. Associate Superintendent Bleau Deckerd said most of the training would be done in-house.

• The board also approved an evaluation on the district’s facilities and grounds. The district currently has 14 sites, covering an area of 960,000 square feet. Deckerd said after the construction projects are completed, there will be an additional 107,000 square feet.

The district’s facility and grounds goals are to have all programs housed in appropriate facilities and that all educational facilities are adequately maintained.

All school buildings are inspected annually by local and state entities, including the health department and local fire department, and were determined to meet code.

• Eli Jones and Hunter Rees were recognized for their high achievement at the regional science fair at Southeast Missouri State Missouri. The junior high students are the alternates for the national science fair and they presented their invention to the board. Jones and Rees created a method to protect phone lines from getting cut by criminals through a Secure-Line Conduit.

The phone line is protected by a metal pipe that can spin freely to stop criminals from sawing through the frictionless metal. That pipe is surrounded by an additional tube to stop people from clamping down the rotating conduit. Jones and Rees say they want to continue improving the invention by allowing the conduit to bend.

• Members of the West Lane Math Team were recognized for their regional performance. Jackson R-2 hosted the regional competition this year and 90 students competed. Several West Lane students received top results at the competition and moved on to the district level.

The math club meets Tuesday afternoon, and they spend months training for the three tests they took at the regional completion. The tests measure the student’s mental math ability, and only one of the three tests allows the use of calculators.

The students gave the board members and those in attendance some of the easier math questions they used in practice, and helped them figure out the answers.

• South Elementary nurse Jill Eldridge and dietitian Gloria Stoverink gave the board a presentation on their Student Health Index Grant proposal. One of the grant requirements is to present to the board.

The grant includes a self-assessment in which South Elementary scored high in most areas. The areas that could see further improvement were the school’s physical activity programs and the nutritional environment. Eldridge spoke about increasing the extra-curricular physical activities at South to include strength, conditioning, balance and coordination activities. With the grant money, they plan on purchasing fitness equipment that can be used after school and during physical education classes.

Stoverink spoke about getting students involved with the lunches and the cafiteria. As part of the grant process, she put together a plan to increase participation in school lunch, reducing food waste and getting students to eat healthier options. A survey is now sent out to students to see what foods they like and students can now take taste tests to see if they like different foods.

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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