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School board discuss coaching changes

During a closed session Tuesday evening the Farmington R-7 Board of Education approved a request to transfer for Farmington Boys Varsity Basketball Coach Brett Hale.

Farmington Superintendent Dr. Natalie Thomas said Hale turned in a letter of resignation Monday. However, she said, after a discussion with him about his leaving as varsity basketball coach he decided to ask for a reassignment instead of resigning.

Hale asked to be reassigned to coaching duties at Farmington Middle School.

Assistant Basketball Coach Corey Rice submitted his resignation and it was approved at the May 15 board meeting. He reportedly cited a desire to spend more time with family.

Dr. Thomas said she met with both Hale and Rice to talk to them about their leaving the program. She added the district is looking forward to having Hale involved with the younger levels. The district wants to have his continued involvement and expertise in basketball.

During open session of the school board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Sarah Long gave a report on a FEMA grant. The district submitted a grant for a “safe room” in February 2012. They were notified a couple weeks ago they made it through the current grant cycle and are waiting to hear if they have been approved for the grant

The safe room was going to be added on as part of the work to be completed following successful passage of a bond issue. The proposed project was for the band and choir portion of the high school addition. The cost would be $6 to $7 million for the entire project including the gymnasium space.

District officials originally planned to have the safe room added at the high school but now if they receive the grant they would like to build the room at the early childhood center.  The cost would be $2 to $3 million for the entire space.

It is a 75 percent federally-funded safe room project and the district would be responsible for 25 percent of the project. They would need to post for a project management/engineering firm and architectural firm in order to be reimbursed 75 percent of the design fees.

Board Member Dr. Ben Rothlisberger asked if the grant stands if there is a free standing building, an add on or new construction? Long said as long it was built to the specifications it could be any type of structure. “Your guaranteeing a room that withstands a tornado,” said Long.

When they first considered the safe room grant the high school and early childhood center were the two main locations because they are the two highest populated facilities.

Director of Business Services Don Eaton and Executive Director Matt Ruble gave a report about the options for the FEMA grant, transportation, facilities and technology needs.

Eaton said the timing is hard to tell with the FEMA grant now because they don’t have a confirmation on if they are approved or when they will receive the money.

Eaton said a grant revision is possible to provide a safe room in the proposed early childhood center. The safe room would accommodate students in the early childhood center, Truman Kindergarten Center and Washington-Franklin Elementary.

The district would have to come up with 25 percent of the cost. The options would be a future bond issue proceeds, lease purchase, or direct payment from the district operating funds.

Next to be discussed were options for transportation needs. Ruble said the maintenance department has done a great job with the way the buses run. The thing to keep in mind with the new buses is the gas mileage, safety options and lower miles.

One of the items on the list was two brand new buses for $180,000 and adding three camera units a year to three buses and they have 42 buses. They would be upgrading from VCR to DVR.

A couple other critical needs listed are a keypad so drivers with buses and vehicles going through the gates don’t have to leave the vehicles. They are also asking for base radios in all buildings because they are trying something different with the bus drivers and scanning frequencies. They have tried it with one of the drivers who lives out in the country where they have never have radio contact and it worked.

The estimated cost for the transportation critical needs is $205,050.

Hoehn said there is a need for some things to be dealt with in the district. The voters voted down the recent bond issue, yet they are going to have to go ahead and spend money on some needs and try not to dig the district deeper in debt.

Dr. Thomas said it’s hard for the district to put a plan together without knowing what the board wants to have and spend money on.

Eaton said with the facilities it doesn’t necessarily mean new construction. You can do renovations and repairs.

The facilities critical needs are to replace the worst roofs at the high school and administration building, complete some HVAC work, mold abatement at Washington/Franklin Elementary, resurface the tennis courts, parking lots and drive where busses unload at Farmington Middle School and Lincoln Intermediate and exterior doors.

The estimated cost for facilities and maintenance needs is $1,046,989.

Technology would be up to date and be maintained said Chad Pipkin, IT director.

They would have a basic campus wireless network, network security system, network system management and classroom equipment.

Vice President of the Board Howard Hoehn asked what the critical need cost is.

Pipkin said $168,000.

Eaton said right now the district doesn’t have the flexibility to commit a lot of money to purchase a lot of new things. The district may finish a little in the black but, he said, he is hesitant to use a lot of the district money for transportation and technology.

“I don’t think we have sufficient fund balances to withdraw right now,” said Eaton.

The board voted to approve the scheduling for the regular June board meeting on June 27 at 5 p.m., authorized the June bills to be paid at the regular time to aid in closing out the 2011-12 school year and approved to continue with the FEMA grant process including posting for both an engineering and architectural firm to comply with requirements.

The next Farmington Board of Education meeting will be held June 27 at 5 p.m. at the Board of Education building.

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