R-IV dives into career, technical education

Career and technical education and associated facilities were part of discussion at the May 9 meeting of the Willow Springs school board.
Superintendent Bill Hall introduced two topics on the evening’s agenda – the future use of the former Missouri Department of Transportation buildings and a potential collaboration with the Ozarks Family YMCA – as items for discussion, with no action planned for the evening. 
“But we do need a person who can focus on career and tech ed,” said Hall. The board ultimately approved the position of career and technical education support.  It is expected that Josh Owens will fill the position.
Willow Springs City Administrator Beverly Hicks was on hand to update the board on the former MoDOT buildings. The city agreed at a recent council meeting to move forward with a quit claim deed to accept the buildings from the state. As previously discussed with the board, the city will use the northern building, and the school is set to receive the south building from the city for potential use as a career and technical education facility.
Hicks said the future school building has a new roof and that other potential improvements could be phased. She asked for and received approval to have the property surveyed, with the city and the school district splitting the cost. 
“We’d love to partner with you and are much supportive of your CTE efforts,” said Hicks.
Hall explained a career pathways chart distributed to the board, discussing different options for programs, including construction, health science, and other technology-based programs. A strong building trades program, he said, “is self-sustainable.” 
“The whole concept is to expand career and technical education,” said Hall. “The ball is in our court now to make a decision.”
Hall also discussed potential sources of grant funding including upcoming grants available through the state.
“We have an opportunity to move forward, and I believe the time is right,” said Hall.
Hicks, board members, and others also agreed the timing seems good for the district to move forward.
“This is an extremely exciting opportunity for the district and the community,” said Owens. “It’s very exciting for the students and for the community.”
The potential collaboration with the YMCA for a facility on school grounds was part of the discussion as well, since part of the CTE program could include a building trades program. The program would help provide skills for students, but also could construct affordable housing for the community, said Hall. The property requested for use by the YMCA is zoned for residential use and could be used as a site for such housing.
Board members Matt Hobson and Scott Foster both said they didn’t want to shoot down the YMCA’s plan. 
“I don’t know we totally need to kibosh the Y’s plans,” said Foster.
“I don’t think we need to end the conversation with the Y,” added Hobson. “I would like to figure out as a group how we can accommodate both.”
The board ultimately agreed to move forward while sorting land issues out, forming a working committee with the city and the YMCA to explore options.
In other business:
• The board discussed potential increases staff salaries, with decisions to come at a later board meeting. The board also agreed to add three days of bereavement leave as a staff benefit.
• High school principal Dr. Marty Spence recognized the top 5 senior projects before the board, with two students on hand, Yuri Cruz and Chesney Cooper. The two explained their projects – a fourth-grade sewing night by Cruz, and watering and fencing projects on his family farm by Cooper. Others in the top 5 included Caleb Cochran, who formed a praise and worship band at his church; Shaysten Mayberry, who created student support group at school; and Brenden Ferguson, who focused on renewable energy.
• The board approved resignations from kindergarten teacher April Collins and paraprofessional Rebekah Walton. The board hired Logan Schwalm as elementary assistant principal, Emilee Daniels and Kaitlyn Baker as kindergarten teachers, Madyson Vonallmen for high school art, and Tori McAfee as a speech language pathologist. Robert Chaney was added to the list of approved substitute teachers.
• After discussion, the board agreed to move meeting start times to 6 p.m. on the second Monday of the month, changing from a 7 p.m. start. The board will have a budget work session at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31.  
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