Fatima school district approves updated counseling manual

By Elise Brochu, UD Staff Writer
Posted 4/17/24

WESTPHALIA — School counselors Kary Brunnart, Robin Schulte, and Jessica Davis gave a presentation on the recent updates to their program manual.

Essentially, they said, nothing has …

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Fatima school district approves updated counseling manual


WESTPHALIA — School counselors Kary Brunnart, Robin Schulte, and Jessica Davis gave a presentation on the recent updates to their program manual.

Essentially, they said, nothing has changed except the format of the manual. They described their program, and how they handle various student issues, as well as confidentiality. They will be sending out a survey in the spring, to students and parents.

They also noted how lucky the school is to have a counselor from Compass two days a week, and they hope to possibly have her full-time next year. Her services are paid for through a grant from the United Way.

“Osage County is last in the state of Missouri for mental health care providers to population,” one counselor said. “We have one. We have one therapist in Osage County.”

The manual was approved unanimously.

“I sometimes hesitate to overly brag a lot on certain staff members, because I don’t want to leave people out,” said Superintendent Chuck Woody.  “And I’ve told you I have an incredible staff, and I say that as a whole, but, guys, these three knock it out of the park. I don’t know what we’d be without them right now.”

Kary Brunnart will be leaving he district at the end of the year to teach elementary English and history at a parochial school in Vienna.

In his superintendent’s report, Woody spoke again of his concerns regarding Senate Bill 727 and how that will affect rural schools.   

“I went to the Capitol last Thursday,” Woody said. “It was interesting, to say the very least. I’m starting to lose a lot of faith in the political system in Missouri, and in the United States. 

“I’m not trying to play politics here. That is not my job, and this is sure not the place for it. I will say that our representative, Bruce Sassman, out of Belle, is very pro-public education. I had a discussion with the Speaker of the House…we’ll leave it at that. He doesn’t feel the same way.”

Woody was concerned that raising the minimum teacher salary above what rural schools can afford, without offering a way to help them pay for it, will have negative consequences.

“In this bill, guys, there’s some great stuff,” Woody said. “Raise teacher pay? By God, yes, they deserve it. Do it, but give me some money to help me pay for it. But when you get int to vouchers and charter schools, and this and that, that (isn’t) good for public education, and it sure (isn’t) good for rural public education.”

The bill, Woody said, has been moved to its third committee in the house, which Woody felt is a stalling tactic. 

“Because people like me reached out to their reps, and you guys reached out to your reps, and so on, they don’t have the ability to get that thing passed yet,” Woody said. “So, they’re jumping it from committee to committee, stalling for time, working behind the scenes to try to strong-arm people to get the votes.”

Election results were certified, and Suzanne Massman was sworn in for another term. Jeffrey Winkelman wasn’t at the meeting due to a scheduling conflict, but agreed to come to the school to be sworn in as soon as possible.

Massman was voted in as board president again, followed by board Matt Robertson as vice-president. Amanda Brandt (secretary to the board), Patty Schneiders (treasurer), and Mandy Kliethermes (MSBA delegate) were also selected by the board.

Administrative staff contracts were approved, including two-year contracts for High School Principal Matt Verslues, Special Education Director Kelly Wheelan, Curriculum Coordinator Janah Massman, and a one-year contract for High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Mike Thompson.

The board accepted the resignations of Valin Schwegler, part-time custodian, and Tim Brunnert, freshman boys’ basketball coach. At will and extra duty position hires were approved as well.

Athletic Director Mike Thompson stated that he was approached by a Parochial Athletic League (PAL) coach from Immaculate Conception about the possibility of their junior high girls playing basketball with Fatima.  Thompson noted that there are pros and cons to cooperative agreements with another school. 

The pros include having a wider talent pool to build a program from, especially as participation fluctuates from year to year, however, Fatima students might not get as much playing time, since the school allows all skill levels to play. 

Woody also mentioned that practices would have to start later, to give the parochial kids time to get to the school. That means practice would end later and kids would get home later.

“I think we need to ask our parents,” Massman said.  “They’re going to be the ones dropping off and picking up. I would like to be consulted as the parent who’s going to be driving half a dozen kids home.”

Thompson felt the issue of playing time could be mitigated by playing additional games, as many schools want to play two games (A and B) on game nights, but Fatima doesn’t always have enough players to sustain that.

Overall, Thompson said he feels that co-opping is the best way to build a strong program, but acknowledged that the school can only co-op with one other school at a time in junior high girls’ basketball, so the board would have to discuss how to handle it if other schools approached them as well. He also noted that Fatima currently co-ops with St. Joseph’s in wrestling.

All board members expressed concern about how co-opping with one parochial school would affect others who may want to co-op in the same sport. The deadline to make the decision is approaching, so the board will revisit the issue at their next meeting. If other schools are interested in co-opping with Fatima, they should approach the school.

The school bus contractor has asked for a 6% increase for the 2024-25 school year, followed by a 4% increase the following year. Woody noted that he understands costs are going up but is hesitant to commit to specific increases for the 2025-26 school year.

“We know what we can do for next school year,” Woody said. “But there (are) no guarantees the year after. And that’s what scares me a little bit.”

The board asked Woody to discuss the issue further with the contractor, so they can revisit the issue at their next meeting.

The school has several surplus items available to bid on. Those items are listed in a separate ad.

Construction projects are proceeding on schedule. The new admin building is nearly complete, with punch list scheduled for April 22.

On the drainage issue, the architect suggested splitting the cost of $5,237 to correct the issue. Woody noted that the project is currently slightly under budget, with a credit of $7,100, so the school could split the cost and still be under budget for the project as a whole. Board members felt that the school should not have to pay to correct the issue, but also that the architect has been a valuable partner, and this might not be the time to be inflexible, in case a larger issue arises later. It was ultimately decided that the board would accept the compromise.

The high school addition is proceeding on schedule, with micro-piers and concrete being poured soon.

Principals’ Reports

Special Education currently has 107 IEPS and 35 504s. Staff would like to remind families to reevaluate their Medicaid status if they get anything in the mail. Teachers have been working on transition for their high school kids. CPR recertification of staff occurred, and they submitted their files to DESE.

Elementary has 348 students with an attendance rate of 96.05%. MAP testing for grades three through six will begin soon. So far, 150 students have signed up for summer school, however they do not have the parochial information yet and anticipate over 200 students.

The high school has 458 students with a 95.24% attendance rate. Summer school signup has opened. The school is trying to do a freshman orientation that will be fun but also informative.

In athletics, spring baseball is off to a good start. Girls’ soccer is 5-2. The gold team finished fifth of 17 teams at Southern Boone. The Booster Club Golf Tournament will be Wednesday, June 7, at Osage View in Linn.

Linn High School had 102 kids participating in ACT testing, with two scheduled for make-up testing. Curriculum Director Janah Massman thanked the Westfalia Lions for allowing the school to use their facility to test the students, and the Westphalia Lions members who stayed after their meeting to help set up for testing’

“I would have been there a lot later than I was, had they not done that,” Massman said. “So, I appreciate their kindness.”

She also thanked the Fatima staff for their flexibility.   

Bills were approved in the amount of $589,271.26. 

Important Dates:

April 18: 6 p.m. MAP Awards Night for last’s year’s scores

April 23: first day of math and EOC testing. Massmann asked that parents and students do their best to make sure students are present for that, as make-up testing is difficult to schedule.

April 25: music concert for grades four through six, in the high school gym, starting at 6:30 p.m.

April 28: high school spring concert will begin at 6 p.m. 

Staff Appreciation Week is the week of April 30 through May 3. 

May 8: last day for seniors

May 10: graduation practice

May 12: graduation

May 17: last day of school