Jones steps into top slot on school board


News editor

With the resignation Feb. 1 of school board president Doe Ann Hague who moved to Newton, Gary Jones advanced from board vice president to president. Rhonda Loucks will take over as vice president. Both will serve until the end of the 2007-08 school year.

Public notice of the vacancy in member district five was published. The board will then appoint a person from that district to fill the slot vacated by Hague.

The board cast a unanimous ballot for Loucks and for Tony Zappone as district representative to Marion County Special Education Cooperative and Duke Eldridge as Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) negotiations board representative.

Zappone and Eldridge also will serve until the end of the 2007-08 school year.

Later in the meeting, board members approved extending the contracts of Ray Savage, Ken Parry, and Tim Robertson by two years to the 2009-10 school year.

The decision came following three executive sessions and the contracts received unanimous approval. Salaries will be determined at a future date.

Superintendent Rex Watson will be evaluated a special meeting at the central office at 9 a.m. March 29.

An issue of consequence to district patrons was tabled until the August board meeting. Board members have been discussing the possibility of changing district representation to seven at-large members instead of area representation. Following discussion at the meeting and review of ballot/voting deadlines the board tabled the issue until August.

In other business, the board:

— accepted the early resignation of Margaret Pippin. Pippin will finish the 2007-08 school year.

— went into four executive sessions for a total of 70 minutes for the purpose of discussing personnel. No action was taken on return to open session.

— approved reviews of three sections of the board policy handbook and heard the remainder of the book will be reviewed by Tuesday and be available for final inspection at the March meeting. The committee next will examine the student handbook, classified handbook, certified comprehensive handbook, and the administrator handbook.

— heard from Watson about updated plans for housing the Marion County Special Education Cooperative CLASS program. Watson addressed location, remodeling, maintenance, and contract agreement possibilities.

— heard from Watson that he and Peabody City Administrator Jeff Benbrook continue to work on an agreement for the FFA farm and maintenance agreements for the football field and baseball diamond.

— heard a review by Watson of the district's buses, Suburbans, and other vehicles. After discussion the board voted to buy two Suburbans, sell or trade the high mileage van, sell the four-wheel drive Chevrolet truck, and buy a topper for the Ford truck. Watson will be reimbursed $500 a month to drive his personal vehicle and his school car will go back into the school's fleet of vehicles.

— approved an increase in the charge for district buses when rented to an outside entity. The rate per mile will be $1.50 with the renter also reimbursing the district for the cost of the driver.

— accepted the 2008-09 school calendar as presented.

— approved a cooperative agreement with USD 373 Newton for the 2008-09 school year vo-tech program.

— approved re-publishing the budget to take advantage of an increase in state aid due to audited figures. The budget increase will not mean an increase in local taxes.

— agreed to participate in Parents As Teachers program during the 2008-09 school year.

— heard from PBES principal Ken Parry that students enjoyed a traveling "Pioneer Days" exhibit sponsored by PBES PTO.

— approved offering the position of assistant high school track coach to Layne Burnett for the 2007-08 school year.