School board hears update on athletic program

The Willow Springs school board heard an update from the district athletic program and discussed other issues at its regular meeting on Monday, April 10.
At the opening of the meeting, the board first reorganized following the school board election on April 4. Incumbents who were reelected and sworn in for another three-year term were Matt Hobson, Adam Webb, and Brent Colley. The board then reelected officers including Mac Gum continuing as president, Hobson as vice president, Mandy Scarbrough as secretary, and Jaime Bryan as treasurer. Debbie Bryan volunteered to serve as the district’s delegate to the Missouri School Boards Association.
Athletic director Robert James then updated the board, starting with the spring sports season. The spring sports season includes 143 students in the district, while the fall season includes 134. 
“We’ve got a lot going on,” he said. “We’ve got kids and coaches going everywhere.” He said April is the busiest month of the school year, with 70 athletic events in the month. This means students often leave school early, along the district needing substitute teachers and bus drivers to cover those involved in athletics.
“This (tests) our resources to the max,” he said. “That puts a strain on everybody.” 
Wet spring weather also can be tricky to navigate, with events sometimes rescheduled with very little notice.
“But we believe it’s important to keep kids involved,” he said. “We understand the big picture of it all.”
He also said the benefits of athletics for students “are way beyond the game and the playing field.” Grades are monitored regularly for student athletes.
“Winning or losing, athletics can be something to help keep kids in school,” he said.
He told the board the fence for the middle school softball field would be going in soon, with poles set last week. More improvements are planned, with hopes to play games there next year.
Footers for the new athletic training facility were slated to be poured last week, with the building package to arrive May 23. The facility is projected to cost approximately $350,000 and will be funded through the district’s ESSER III budget. ESSER funds are emergency relief funds from the COVID-19 pandemic. The district was allocated $3,429,489.
“We’re expecting it to be up and ready for the guys to work inside (in June),” said James.
In other business:
• The board approved resignations from Cheryl Tyler, middle school teacher, and Brittany Capeder, school and community resource coordinator, effective at the end of the year. The board also approved retirement for bus driver Sharon Presser and approved Morgan Breidt and Shelly Kruze as substitute teachers.
• Superintendent Dr. Marty Spence updated the board on health insurance through the current consortium for the 2023-2024 school year. “Health insurance just continues to rise,” he said. While they had been expecting an increase of up to 7 percent, negotiations through the consortium have kept that to 5.5 percent. The increase takes the base plan from $600 each month to $633, with the board contributing $469 of that per employee. The employee contribution will increase from $131 to $164 per month.
• The board approved the non-resident tuition rate of $7,000, which is unchanged from this year.
• The board approved a budget work session for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19.
• Senior project night will be Thursday, April 27. The school’s annual senior showcase will be in the Bears Den from 3:30 to 5:30, with presentations from 5 to 7:40. 
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