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Russellville preschool program moving to 5 days per week

Russellville preschool program moving to 5 days per week

April 18th, 2018 by Allen Fennewald in Local News

The Cole R-1 Board of Education thanked its former president, Debbie Malzner, for her six years of service before electing a new president at Monday's regular meeting.

Malzner thanked the board and staff members for their support.

"It's been an honor to serve, and I've enjoyed every minute of being on the board," she said. "I've learned a whole lot about the school and how it runs, and I think we have good administrators here, and you guys are a good team."

Incumbent board member Shawn Ehrhardt was elected the new president, Jamie Sullivan remained vice president and newly sworn-in board member Collin Steenbergen was named secretary.

The board voted Monday to transition the HUGS Preschool program from two days per week to five. Tina Kauffman, principal of the elementary and middle schools, said moving to a five-day program will make the lives of working parents much simpler because they won't have to find child care services for the other three days of the work week. She said it also would help the district retain students into elementary school.

Sullivan asked if stay-at-home parents could still choose to send students only two days a week so they could spend more time with their children. Kauffman said that could cause those children to fall behind their peers, but the district could consider adopting that policy.

Superintendent Perry Gorrell will present a drug-testing policy for board review and later approval at the June meeting. The superintendent said 88.2 percent of students surveyed were in favor of implementing a drug-testing policy to help students say no to peer pressure and drug use. Students also voted mostly in favor of testing all students who participate in school-sponsored activities, including parking in the school's lot.

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"The reason for implementing the policy isn't because we believe there is a problem within our high school," Gorrell said. "We are giving our students an opportunity to abstain through this testing policy. It's about student safety."

At the board next meeting, Gorrell said, he will present the details of which students will be eligible for random testing and establish a punishment protocol for those who test positive for drug use. Testing will be performed by an outside company, with the results reported directly to the superintendent's office.

Gorrell said he will tweak a standard Missouri School Boards Association policy to fit the needs of the Cole R-1 district. The costs of the program, expected to be approximately $2,000 a year, will be funded by the district.

Possible punishments for testing positive for illicit substances could include dismissal from 30 percent of extra-curricular activities for the first offense, 60 percent for the second and complete dismissal for a third.

The board also voted to keep the seventh and eighth grades in the K-8 building for another year and evaluate how best to transition those grades into Russellville High School for the 2019-20 school year. Survey results were difficult to evaluate, because some respondents may not have fully understood the question.

Gorrell recommended the district test bringing the seventh and eighth grades to the high school building for one day next semester and decide if the board still thinks it is worthwhile to make the transition.

Some parents have voiced concerns about mixing middle school and high school students in one building, but Gorrell said the transition could make the district more efficient and reduce administrative expenses.