This was the third Board of Education meeting I have attended and this was also the third different location we’ve had for a meeting. The November meeting was in the Archive Room and it was a small conference room where parents were sitting in chairs about two feet away from the board members. The December meeting was in a “cafetorium” and you can read my article about that meeting here:
This meeting was held in the Osage High School auditorium because the sound system is better in this venue. As it worked out, it was still hard to hear what was being said because it seemed like the microphone for the center part of the table was turned off. I was going to mention something to them, but I didn’t want to get labeled as “disruptive” so I just tried my best to hear them.
When I arrived, the parking lot didn’t seem very full and as the meeting got started, there were probably about twenty people in attendance. They started with the Pledge of Allegiance, but an American flag had to be found first. Once the pledge was over, the Board recited the district mission statement and I could hear some people behind me chanting it along with the board so I assume they were either teachers, retired teachers, alumni, or really into memorizing mission statements.
There were no police officers present at this meeting like there were at the December meeting so I assumed the Board wasn’t worried that this meeting was going to kick off into a full scale parent riot. There also wasn’t a phalanx of “One School One Tribe” T-shirt-wearing supporters there, but I wore my Osage ball cap just in case so I wouldn’t be identified as a bad apple. The Superintendent was looking around at the audience and jotting notes down as if she was taking attendance in class. Old habits must die hard.
They had taped off the first three rows of the seats. At first, I thought this might be seating reserved for speakers or VIP guests. I settled down in the fourth row. It turns out nobody sat in those front rows. My guess is they didn’t want the audience to be too close which is pretty funny when I look back to the seating arrangements at the November meeting.
This was a Work Session Meeting and it seems they don’t allow public comment at Work Session meetings.
Six members of the Board were present. I didn’t see Mary Whitman there.
The agenda is posted here:
The first agenda item was for Approval of Bills from December 8, 2021 through January 4, 2022.
The bills were approved.
The second agenda item was for the Financial Statements.
The Superintendent read from the financial documents. For the month ending in December 31, 2021, revenues were $4,392,107 and expenditures were $2,306,773.
The third agenda item was the Monthly Attendance Report.
Attendance District-wide in December was down 2.53% from December 2020. Amy St. John stated the most common reason parents gave for their kids missing school in December was COVID/Flu. Board member Darrick Steen mentioned it also might have been impacted by parents keeping their kids out of school because of the Tik-Tok threat day.
The fourth agenda item was the Scope of Work for the FEMA building. Steve Telscher was present from SAPP Design Architects to brief the Board on the project.
The plan is to build a safe room next to the soccer field behind Osage Middle School. This safe room will provide shelter during high wind events for 563 people. The safe room construction is partially funded by a FEMA grant.
It will also be used as a multi-purpose room and will be 5520 square feet. It will include a locker room, offices for coaches, and it could be used for wrestling events, training, and weight training.
FEMA only requires the actual safe shelter structure but there are extra options the District can include or reject depending on where the final cost lands. The total estimated cost is between $2,772,000 to $3,170,000. The options which can be deducted would save the District between $70,000 to $90,000. There is a contingency cost of $110,000 built into the total cost for unforeseen problems during construction which would not be paid if it wasn’t needed.
The FEMA grant will cover $1,023,000 of the cost.
The bids will be advertised on February 18. They will have a pre-bid conference midway through the bidding cycle and bids will be due February 22. He will be seeking Board approval on the bids at the late February Board meeting.
They expect 15 months for construction. Telscher estimated the project would be complete June/July of 2023. The FEMA grant completion deadline is October 31, 2023.
Board member Dale Law asked how eager bidders would be on this project? Telscher was confident they would get a number of bids for it.
The fifth agenda item was for Contracts/MOU’s/Agreements. There were five contracts in this item.
The Superintendent said the first contract was a speech therapy agreement. She didn’t really get into details and the Board approved it. Looking at the documents, I read that it’s a contract with The Speech House.
The second was the Carl Perkins Consortium Agreement. This is an agreement with the Camdenton School District wherein they act as the fiscal agent for Osage and several other school districts for Career Education programs. Board member Steen reviewed some of the careers and said in the future, he thought that some of these careers, specifically Agricultural Education and Graphics Technology, might be handled at School of the Osage. He suggested they consider it for the next contract period. The Board approved the agreement.
The third contract was a direct deposit agreement with “enel x”. Board member Steen asked what this pertained to and the Superintendent explained that it is used to receive energy rebate payments through direct deposit. The District occasionally gets notified when there are opportunities to reduce electrical usage in order to receive a rebate. If it is possible, the District then reduces its electrical usage and can receive a rebate which would be paid through enel x. (That is a terrible name for a company. On so many levels.) The Board approved this and I was grateful that someone asked for an explanation.
The fourth contract was an approval form for FEMA Phase II funding for the safe room/wrestling gym project that was discussed earlier. The Superintendent needed Board approval to sign for the funding. The Board approved it.
The final agreement was for Blue Frame Technology. This is an agreement to use Blue Frame to send video of basketball games to MSHSAA (Missouri State High School Activities Association). MSHSAA will then put the games on their platform so people can watch the basketball games. Board member Alison Schneider asked if the games would still be shown on Youtube and it appears they will still be available on that platform also. Viewers would not be charged to watch the games on the MSHSAA platform. The Board approved this agreement.
The sixth agenda item was for Board Committee appointments. Whitman, Vance, and Page were assigned to the Student Excellence and Family Engagement Committee. Schneider, Law, and Page were assigned to the Facilities Operations & Safety Committee. Steen, Miller, and Schneider were assigned to the Finance & Policy Committee.
The seventh agenda item was a first reading of revisions to the policy for Public Participation at Board Meetings.
Public Participation will be set at a total of 30 minutes per meeting. Each person addressing the Board will have 3 minutes. It does away with the requirement that people can only speak publicly about items that are on the agenda. If a non-Board member wants to speak during the official portion of the Board Meeting, they will have to register with a request card identifying the speaker and the topic they wish to discuss.
Most importantly, the only people allowed by this policy to speak at Board meetings will be “…district residents, district employees, parents/guardians of district students, alumni, former employees, and owners of district businesses…”. Hmmm. I wonder why they added this last part?
The eighth agenda item was the Fall Parent Survey Results.
Reading this survey, it was interesting to note that parent participation in this survey fell off a cliff. The participation results were:
And 118 of those 2021-2022 surveys came from Osage Heritage Elementary School. A total of only 90 surveys were completed from Osage High School, Osage Middle School and Osage Upper Elementary School. That’s not a good sign. You should check out the results yourself in the agenda.
The final agenda item before the Board went into closed session was 2022-2023 Student Calendar Consideration. Most of the Board discussion for this item was between Board members Steen, Miller, and Schneider. There were concerns voiced about the shortening of the Christmas break. Steen asked if the students could go to school on the Monday and Tuesday before Christmas and then take that Wednesday and Thursday off?
I thought this was a good idea because even though we are on a 4 day schedule, it’s not as if Monday is a sacrosanct day that we can never schedule for classes. Board member Schneider asked why the District didn’t just keep the same schedule as this year? In the end, the Board decided that this warranted more discussion in the future.
I have to admit, I’m surprised the District ever went to a 4 day school week. I’m sure they are out there, but I have yet to meet a single parent who thought the 4 day week was a good idea. It places way too much strain on families who have two parents who work. I’ve also heard rumors that a year-round school year is being considered by some people. That is just never going to happen if only because too many Osage kids work during the summer season.
And that was that.
In addition to School Board meetings, I write a lot about Camden County politics and I’ve also written some stories about my experiences as an LAPD police officer and other adventures. You can find those posts at the following links and I hope you enjoy them: