Jefferson West school board welcomes new member
by Clarke Davis
The Jefferson West Board of Education welcomed its newest member, Scott Gibson, to its midst July 5 in a special meeting.
The one-hour session was held to handle a number of reorganizational matters as the board begins a new fiscal year.
Gibson is a 1992 graduate of Jefferson West and has three children attending classes in the district plus a 9-month-old child. He’s a former mayor of Ozawkie.
The district begins the new year with a new superintendent. Pat Happer, 55, a 20-year veteran of the district is now at the helm. He was the high school principal for a couple of years and since has been the elementary and intermediate school principal. High school teacher Wes Sturgeon is now the elementary principal.
Former superintendent Scott Myers attended the meeting, but his contract ran out June 30. He resigned to take a professorship at Washburn University. He helped make up an audience of three and said, “I’m just a taxpayer now.”
Dr. Jeff Van Petten was elected president of the school board replacing Dreana McClurg.
Frank Sayles was also nominated for the board presidency, but lost in a 3-4 split vote. Van Petten won the seat in a 4-3 vote.
The board will continue to meet at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the district office. The September, November, and January meetings will be held in the district’s school buildings.
Board member Shannon McMahon was reappointed to represent Jefferson West on the Keystone board. Keystone provides special education services for seven school districts and is operated by one member from each board.
“It’s a tough board, but a good board to serve on,” she said. “It’s an important board because it serves a lot of district children.”
Board member Don Knowles will be the first alternate to serve if McMahon cannot be present. Keystone has moved into the Ozawkie school building after working out a lease arrangement with Jefferson West.
Appointments included retention of Amy Adams-Mitchell as clerk of the board; Dayna Heineken, deputy clerk; Marcia Ricklefs, treasurer; and Larry Mears, board attorney.
Among the more than 30 routine items voted on was an increase in substitute teacher pay, which was moved from $75 to $80 a day.
Substitutes who are in the classroom for a single teacher over 10 days get $90 a day and if they are there beyond 31 days the pay jumps to $185 a day. These latter figures were not increased.
Happer indicated that the $75 the district was paying is low among neighboring schools but cautioned the board about raising it too high because the rate affects teacher pay at year’s end as part of the district’s negotiated agreement with teachers.
At year’s end, teachers are reimbursed for unused leave as a bonus and to encourage teachers to be in the classroom as much as possible. Happer said raising the rate $5 would cost the district $4,000 based on the past three-year average of bonuses paid out.
The board’s regular July meeting was still set to be held the 11th.
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