WS school board approves bus buy, hires asst. coach

The Willow Springs R-IV board of education approved the purchase of a new school bus for the 2025 Fiscal Year. Personnel matters dominated the rest of the voting -- including the resignation of former head football coach Travis Payne and the hire of a new assistant coach with a familiar last name.
The school board voted unanimously to purchase a 2025 Bluebird Vision last Mondat, a 71-passenger bus, at a cost of $120,870 from Central States Bus Sales. The 2025 fiscal year begins on October 24, 2024, and will run through Sept. 30, 2025.
In personnel matters, both former head football coach Travis Payne and Jennifer Payne, a high school math teacher and his wife, tendered their resignations. Ian Ary, son of legendary coach Steve Ary, was hired in this meeting as the new high school body conditioning teacher and an assistant football coach. There was no announcement last week regarding a new head coach.
In items for information, the board heard updates from building administrators and a presentation by the High school’s FBLA Seniors.
In the elementary school, Principal Chris Rogers said that enrollment was down by five students. He noted the Family Night during the Book Fair was a big success and the elementary chess team had done very well. Author Jefferson Knapp will be visiting the third and fourth grade students on March 21 and MAP testing will be starting soon, according to Rogers.
In the middle school, Principal Dr. Jon Johnson said that the Missouri State Highway Patrol had recently visited as part of their “Don't 'Meth' With Me” program. In sports, middle school softball has their first game at Norwood and baseball has their first game against Winona at home, both games on March 25. Dr. Johnson spoke on the Student Showcase, saying it was a good night.
In high school, Principal Nick Schmitt spoke on sports, Senior Signing Day, and upcoming events. High school softball began on March 11 and baseball the following day. Senior Signing Day is March 28. This is a day for all senior students who are going to college, the military, post-secondary schooling, or the workforce to visit with their parents and celebrate their future plans. Schmitt noted that student Maddie Poor has been selected to the Missouri Scholars 100 and will be recognized for that in April in Columbia.
In special education, Marlenia Baker recognized Rhea Cook for her exemplary work in the middle school. Baker had been selected as one of two people from Missouri to be part of an Advisory Special Education Panel by Missouri Assistant Commissioner of Education, Mark Wheatley. The purpose of the panel was to advise what a school district in the state should do regarding special education. She noted that while Willow Springs does not have a shortage of special education employees, the state currently has 238 unfilled special education teacher positions.
Multiple FBLA Seniors offered a presentation to the board regarding what they do for students. The students spoke on working with the Senior Center for events, like their Valentine’s Day Bingo Lunch. The students discussed Bear Media Productions and their various productions, like morning news and promotional and announcement videos. The students also run their school store, where they learn about Point-of-Sale technology. FBLA students also compete in district and state level events and twenty WSHS students qualified for state competition.
Attendance was noted by all administrators to be down in February. The administrators said the absences were due to a wave of illness.
Other resignations and retirements accepted included Katrina Sidorovich, paraprofessional, and Morgan Warren, elementary school teacher, and Leatha Smith, custodian. See for the full list of approved tenured and probationary teachers. 
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