The Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education met Monday, Nov. 23, in its regular monthly meeting in the Heckart Performing Arts Center at Smith-Cotton High School.

All members were present, with Board Member Michael Stees joining virtually.

The board unanimously approved paying background check fees and certification costs for substitute teachers once they log 10 work days with the district. There was conversation about increasing the hourly rate for subs, but multiple factors played roles in no motion being made:

Staff absenteeism recently has dropped to pre-COVID-19 levels;
Concerns about equitable increases for district staff members;
The current budget already is projected as carrying a more than $4 million deficit (largely due to construction of the Loftus Early Childhood Center and the aquatic center construction at the Heckart community center).

Board Member Matthew Herren encouraged the board to consider hourly rate increases for non-certified staff and substitutes in its next budget.

On a 5-2 vote, the board reinstated the attendance incentive pay program for district staff members. The program, which is budgeted, pays staff at the end of the school year for unused sick time. Stees and Board Vice President Scott Gardner voted against the reinstatement, saying the oncoming cold and flu season makes the timing wrong.

Responding to a question from Gardner, Superintendent Steve Triplett affirmed that there is no need for grades 9-12 to shift to all-virtual learning after Thanksgiving.

Smith-Cotton High Principal Wade Norton presented the board with a proposal for the district to provide its own virtual learning platform, beginning in second semester. The district currently outsources all virtual courses; under the proposal, some courses would still be outsourced. The benefits of a district platform, which would work through Canvas, include students working with teachers they know and who know them; students working on Sedalia 200 curriculum and pacing, making a transition to and from virtual learning more seamless; and cost savings, as the district now pays about $2,000 per semester per student for outsourced online learning.

District educators who teach on the virtual platform would receive an additional stipend. Gardner asked if the platform would be open to students from other districts; Norton said the initial focus would be on Sedalia 200 students only but over time it could grow.

Norton also presented a proposal to change academic distinction for graduating seniors, moving from only a valedictorian and salutatorian to keeping those honors but including three tiers: magna cum laude, summa cum laude and cum laude, based on grade-point average. The change, if approved at the next board meeting, would not take effect until the Class of 2025.

Also at the meeting:

The board acknowledged a memorial fund donation to Whittier High School from Dr. David Howe and Susie Howe, a teacher at Heber Hunt Elementary. The $12,332 donation is in memory of their son, Jacob, who was a Whittier student.

The board approved filing dates of Dec. 15 to Jan. 19 for the April 6 election. The seats currently held by Board President Dr. Jeff Sharp and Herren will be on the ballot.
The date for the December meeting was changed from Dec. 21 to Dec. 14. It will still be in the Heckart Performing Arts Center.

The board approved the Parents as Teachers and Early Childhood Special Education/Title 1 Preschool reports from Pettis County Early Childhood Center Principal Joel Sherman.

--Submitted by Sedalia School District 200