Frustrated moms challenge R-1 board over administration’s lack of communication regarding recent threats

By Theresa Brandt, Staff Writer
Posted 2/21/24

CHAMOIS — A half dozen moms showed up at the Chamois R-1 School Board meeting last Wednesday night to express their frustration with the administration about how they handled a recent incident …

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Frustrated moms challenge R-1 board over administration’s lack of communication regarding recent threats


CHAMOIS — A half dozen moms showed up at the Chamois R-1 School Board meeting last Wednesday night to express their frustration with the administration about how they handled a recent incident in which one student threatened another.

“I have concerns that there is no protocol in place at the school for these types of incidents,” said Donna Weiser, the parent of several students in the school district. “I want to make sure my children are safe in the school, and I need to know that things are being handled.”

Weiser was concerned that immediately after discovering the incident, she came to the school and was immediately let into the school building.

Board Secretary Jenny Keilholz assured Weiser and board members that the camera-equipped doors to the school are locked. According to Keilholz, Weiser was let in because she was immediately recognized as a parent.

“My biggest thing is the lack of communication between the administration and us,” said Marsha Slack, another parent of students in the school district.

Slack alleged that the threat was made against her child, and she was angry that she heard about the incident from other parents and students instead of hearing it from the school administrator.

“I don’t expect someone to tell me how they are punishing the child, but I’d like to know whether or not my child has been threatened,” Slack said. “I think, as his mother, I deserve to be informed that his life has been threatened.”

Slack explained that she feels that her child is not safe walking around town, being in school, or hanging out with his friends because it puts him and other students in danger.

“My only option, as I see it since the school is not willing to help me, is to put a restraining order against the child threatening my son,” Slack explained. “Then, either he is put out of school, or I’ll have to transfer my kids out of the school district to protect my kids and other kids in the school because I’ve not been given any other options to make sure he is safe. It’s not fair to my kids to have to pull them out of school.”

Parents in attendance agreed the administration should have done a better job communicating with parents.

“I was informed by the police that the administration should have spoken to us and told us what was going on and not left us in the dark, freaking out,” Weiser said. “I just want all of the kids to be safe.”

“I think, and I hope, that’s what everyone wants,” said Board President Steve Cramer.

Parents continued to talk about the administration’s lack of communication.

“The only communication we have had with the school, even as the parent of the victim, was when we reached out to the school,” said Slack. “The school district has never once reached out to us through this whole ordeal.”

“Just so we all understand, there is only so much the school district can do,” Cramer said. “It is the school district’s responsibility to keep kids safe when they are here. There is no doubt about that, but there is nothing we can do about a student’s safety when they are in town. The school district is required to provide an education to every child within our district.”

Cramer explained that he had heard a lot of rumors around town that the school district was not doing anything, and he contended that was not true.

“We do have a protocol in place, and that is to refer this to law enforcement immediately, and that’s what we did,” Cramer said. “We did follow that process.”

Sheriff Mike Bonham confirmed that a deputy investigated the matter and turned it over to the Juvenile Office for additional investigation.

Superintendent Lyle Best promised parents that the incident and their concerns would be discussed in a closed session at the end of the meeting.

On Tuesday, Best told the UD that the school board will review its general disciplinary policies at an upcoming meeting.

In other business, board members approved renewing the district’s health insurance plan with Ozark Schools Benefits Association (OSBA). There were no rate increases for the second straight year. OSBA offers eight plans to school district employees. All but one of the plans saw a deductible reduction of $500. The district will pay $500 towards the premium, regardless of which plan the employee chooses. Chamois R-1 will continue to provide employees with Cancer Guardian Insurance, district-paid life insurance, and long-term disability. Employees can add dental, vision, life, short-term, accident, medical transport, and long-term care to their insurance with additional premiums fully funded by them. Employee insurance premiums range from $664 to $459 per month.

• The proposed school calendar for the 2024-25 school year will look a lot like the current school calendar, beginning on Aug. 20 and ending on May 23, 2025.

“We are not looking at doing anything different next year,” Best said. “It will be as much of a mirror image as we can get.”

Cramer asked if there had been any issues with changing to the four-day week, and Best replied that things were going well.

There will be 152 student days and 165 staff days next school year.

Best noted that holidays may make for a couple of changes or issues with scheduling professional development days, but for the most part, he will propose sticking to the same schedule as the current school year.

• Best proposed a 5% increase for non-certified staff for the upcoming school year, consistent with how the district has been trying to keep wages at the school competitive. The raise increase would cost the school district an additional $17,000.

Best also proposed that the school district add $1,500 to the base pay scale for certified staff. To this point, Chamois R-1 has maintained the same base rate to maximize the amount of money the school district would receive in matching funds from the state to increase teachers’ base salary.

Best thinks that while this was a solid thought process for the last several years, it may be time to change strategies so that when the grant money to match base salaries is no longer available, there will not be such a drastic change to the district’s budget. The proposed $1,500 addition to the base would cost the school district over $30,000, including lost grant funds.

School board members will revisit salary increases at the March meeting.

• Board members approved outstanding expenses for the month totaling $71,544.90.

• Chamois R-1 had current assets totaling $3,162,963 and the following account balances: general ($2,403,092), special ($194,139), and capital projects ($568,449).


Best updated the board on second-semester progress made in the Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP).

“We’ve been reviewing the actions to see if we’ve fully completed them, if we are making progress, or if there is something we haven’t gotten to yet,” Best explained.

Staff members continue building strong peer-to-peer relationships to help the school district grow. Elementary teachers are continuing with Language Essential for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS).

Best is also working toward establishing writing standards for all classrooms and to expand the reading program into grades 7-8.

Overall, Best is pleased with the progress and believes all staff is working hard.

• Best noted that Gov. Mike Parson continues to be pro-public education by proposing a base salary of $40,000 for public school teachers in his recent State of the State address. Parson included funding for a 70% match in his budget to make the increased base pay more easily attainable for school districts. He also proposed funding the transportation grant again for the upcoming year and the State Foundation Formula.

Best noted that issues before the state legislature that may impact public education include increasing tax credits and vouchers for private schools, open enrollments, and decreases in property taxes. The legislature is calling for the base salary for teachers to remain at $38,000 and be funded through the state at 70%.

“Who knows if any of these things are going to move forward,” Best said.

• Best noted that the cracked sections of the elementary boiler have been replaced and said that the classrooms could stay warm with electric heaters since the weather had been unseasonably warm.

Best hopes that the Facility Solutions Group will be able to present at the March meeting.

The school will increase its internet bandwidth from 80 to 100 megabits for the rest of the school year as the district anticipates needing increased bandwidth for upcoming testing.

Show Me Central Conference district members are working on defining the rules and guidelines for conference-sanctioned activities. The conference’s first Professional Development Day will be held next fall.


Principal Jeremey McKague noted that all Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) members placed first or second in their contests at the District Leadership Conference and will attend the state conference in April.

• Eighth-graders will travel to Moberly for a program and school campus tour.

• McKague noted that Feb. 28 will be a fun day for the school district.

• Spring group and sports pictures will be taken, and juniors will take their ACT test next month.

• March 8 will be senior night, and prom will be held on April 27.

• Seniors are still raising money for their trip, noting they are adjusting since prices are higher this year.


School Counselor Meghan Birmingham told the board her program involves social and emotional wellness, careers, and academics. Birmingham works with students in groups and as individuals.

“We focus on what they want to be when they grow up, how we get there, what careers are out there, how it impacts them, and how that affects your community,” Birmingham said. “We want to help the kids succeed in our school and how they can get from here to post-secondary school.”

She also does whatever else the district needs, including filling in as a substitute teacher, being an advisor to school organizations, collecting data, and being a committee participant.

Birmingham noted that she works with students on teaching academic skills, personal safety, friendships, feelings, emotions, conflicts, coping with things, taking tests, and helping students with financial aid.

She also helps organize students’ professional development days, assemblies, Red Ribbon Week, Fire Safety, mental health wellness, suicide prevention, teacher of the month, student of the week, student needs assessments, family Fridays, help with the ACT, college fairs, career days, college visits, teaching life skills, mock crashes, and organizing speakers for school events.

Birmingham is especially excited about her work with the District Leadership Academy for Character. She has spent a year in the program learning how to teach character traits to students and how that positively affects the school.

“I got to see this in action in schools that have been using this for a long time,” Birmingham said. “It’s great when it gets going. I’m excited to bring this into the school district.”