Linn R-2 schedules community bond presentations

By Elise Brochu, US Staff
Posted 2/21/24

LINN   — Linn R-2 will hold two community bond presentations on Feb. 22 and March 26. “We’ll have those in the middle school instructional spaces and the basement,” said …

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Linn R-2 schedules community bond presentations


LINN  — Linn R-2 will hold two community bond presentations on Feb. 22 and March 26. “We’ll have those in the middle school instructional spaces and the basement,” said Superintendent Bob James, adding the district would love for anyone interested to attend. “We’re just going to go through our projects and give a short tour of campus and the bond projects and, hopefully, let folks know what we’re hoping to do.”

On Thursday, the board approved a resolution allowing the district to participate in the Missouri Capital Asset Advantage Treasury program, enabling the district to invest future bond money until that money is required to pay contractors so the district can earn money on those funds.

In other business, board members approved the district’s health insurance renewal through the Ozark Schools Benefits Association (OSBA). James explained there was no increase over last year for health, dental, and vision coverage. This year’s program added benefits for members with PPO plans for the same cost as last year. Members with PPO plans will see reduced deductibles and 100% coverage for kids under 19, meaning there will be no co-pays for children’s care.

* James will present staff contract recommendations next month, and hiring for next year has begun. “One common theme for staffing among school districts is that everyone’s short-staffed; everyone has very few applicants, and everyone’s talking about salaries and benefits to attract and retain staff,” James said. “That’s going to be an area that it’s going to be an emphasis for us immediately in the future so that we can stay competitive or lose out on the same great staff member because they don’t consider us because of salary.”

He also noted that proposed legislative changes may enact a minimum teacher salary of $40,000 per year, which may affect wages across the board. “It takes 10 years in our district to get to $40,000,” James said. “So, when they have the teacher base salary grant, that means anyone with nine years or less of experience is going to give us money. Unfortunately, for the 10 and 11-year staff member, that means that they’ll make within a few hundred dollars of what a zero-year teacher makes.” James added the board will need to decide whether to raise salaries for teachers with more seniority. “I believe that the $40,000 minimum will eventually be permanent statewide,” he continued, adding that he thinks decompressing the salary schedule will cost the district between $188,000 and $200,000, solely based on entry-level base salaries for teachers with only a bachelor’s degree. “My initial thought is we’ll probably decompress them incrementally, a little bit every year, so our AV increases can cover that. So we won’t go straight unless we just have the money, in which case, I’d love to give it to our teachers, but it would be hard for us to assume $200,000 in spending all at once,” James said.

* Linn R-2 received a bankruptcy settlement offer of $1 from the contractor that installed the HVAC system in the elementary building during the original construction. The contractor installed dissimilar metal fittings, which degraded due to galvanic corrosion and began to leak. The district spent about $230,000 on repairs to correct the faulty work. The offer has been forwarded to the owner’s rep and legal counsel.

* James told the board he was pleased with the show of school spirit and community support at the homecoming game. “Two times since I’ve been here, I can say I had a marked experience, feeling like we really were generating the type of community spirit and feeling that I had when I went to school here,” he said. “Our first football game where we had like 1,500 people show up was one of those times. But I had that same feeling during the basketball game for homecoming last week. The stands were full of people coming and going, and we genuinely felt like we were just in a really good and positive place. Our kids were enjoying it; our community was enjoying it. I think that’s indicative of an improved experience, not just for those events, but what’s happening in our school, so I’m pretty happy with that.”

He also noted that staff are doing a good job setting and meeting goals.

* The board approved next year’s calendar, which shows school starting on Aug. 20, 2024, and ending on May 16, 2025. The calendar allows for an 18-day holiday break in December. The district will have nine professional development days, although two will be exchange days, allowing staff to do professional development on their personal time during the summer and exchange that time for days off on March 31 and April 1. This will provide a staff holiday for teachers who elect to participate.

* Summer school will be held from May 21 to June 21.

* Lead water testing at the school has been completed. “Mr. (Cliff) Wilson did a great job,” said James of the facilities director. “We tested about 150 water sources; 20 failed, and 12 of them are non-potable water sources. You know, maybe it feeds a water heater used in a science lab, but not for drinking and things like that. Only one water fountain failed, most likely due to the components.”

That fountain was immediately removed from service, and a replacement was ordered. Several other failures were attributed to faucets, and replacements have been ordered. The district has submitted its reimbursement for the testing. The full testing report can be found, per statute, on the district’s website.

* Ameren is seeking a 75-foot utility easement. The information was sent to the owner’s representative at Navigate and the district’s legal representatives for review. It was noted that the school’s power is provided by Three Rivers Electric Cooperative.

* A second reading of the district’s service animal policy was held.

* The next regular meeting will be on March 21.

Note: Linn R-2 school board meetings are live-streamed to the district’s YouTube page and can be viewed there in its entirety.