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Chamber luncheon features school districts

Marquand-Zion Superintendent Scott Blake gives an update to the Madison County Chamber of Commerce members.

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon, Aug. 3, at The Venue at Sawyer’s Landing.

This month, members learned about what is happening as local students head Bac

k to School. Representatives from Marquand-Zion and Fredericktown

School Districts were in attendance to talk about their upcoming year.

Marquand-Zion Superintendent Scott Blake gave a quick update. He said, the district completed several renovations over the summer.

“We have installed new kitchen flooring, range, dishwasher and ceiling tiles,” Blake said. “The elementary and middle school got new LED lighting and ceiling tiles.”

Blake said, a $25,000 donation from Cap America was used to pay for part of the renovations.

Staff at Marquand-Zion joked it seems like just last week school ended and it is already time for the new year to start.

Blake said, the calendar has gone through some changes and students will now be offered enrichment/recovery days at the end of each quarter.

The roughly 135 students in Marquand-Zion’s pre-k through 12th grade will begin class, Aug. 23. Teachers will return the week before on Aug. 16.

Next, Fredericktown Assistant Superintendent Melanie Allen gave an update on the R-I District.

“Fredericktown is ready to take off to the new year,” Allen said. “As Scott said, the summer flies by so fast, and we are looking forward to our kiddos coming back.”

Allen said, Fredericktown School District has around 1,800 students and 300 staff members. She said, they have all had time to relax this summer, and the district has teachers already “beating down the doors” to come in and get their classrooms ready.

The district has seen several staff changes including retirements and teachers moving to other districts. Allen handed out a list of current staff for each of the buildings in the district.

“I don’t know if it’s the political climate of the country or what but we are really seeing a teacher shortage, nationwide,” Superintendent Chadd Starkey said. “We have some subject areas that the colleges just aren’t producing any graduates in those areas any longer.”

Starkey said, a career in education is a great career with wonderful retirement.

“It is a very rewarding job,” Allen said. “You talk about making an impact, and a lot, I mean, you’re investing in the future.”

Starkey said, the staff turnover is not strictly teachers but has also been an issue with finding bus drivers.

“We’re a little lower salary-wise than what they are in St. Francois County,” Starkey said. “So a lot of times we will lose a new staff member when a position in St. Francois County opens up for a little bit more.”

Starkey said, the district is working on salaries and has given some increases over the last few years.

“We’re trying to get back to being more competitive, so we can keep those high quality people here, at home,” Starkey said.

Starkey said, the district likes to hire people from the community if it can because they have a stake in the community and are more likely to stay.

Students will once again fill the Fredericktown R-I School buildings when the big yellow buses roll out Aug. 22.

In other business, MCCC Executive Director Tessa Rehkop reminded the group of A Historic Day at the Square from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Aug. 19. The event will feature live music, games, concessions, fireworks and more.

Several other events were mentioned including the next FredMo Nights which will be at 6 p.m., Sept. 2 at Azalea Park, and the Missouri Vietnam Wall Run.

The Missouri Vietnam Wall Run will be held around 11 a.m., Sept. 16 in and around court square and the West Main Street. It will feature  motorcyclists from all around the state parading through town on their way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Perryville. Fredericktown City Hall has been chosen as the rendezvous point for this incredible Parade of Honor. The community is invited to line the streets and show its support for the veterans who lost their lives and the ones who chose to ride in remembrance.

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce will be hold its next luncheon, Sept. 7.

Fredericktown R-I School Assistant Superintendent Melanie Allen speaks to the Madison County Chamber of Commerce during its monthly luncheon, Aug. 3.

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