By Melissa Dunson
Although complete Missouri Assessment Program test results are embargoed until Friday, Joplin R-8 administrators preliminarily announced during a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night that all Joplin elementary schools met their “annual yearly progress” benchmarks for 2007-08, but said there are some other areas that need improvement.
Angie Besendorfer, assistant superintendent, said the R-8 district is still exceeding the state average in MAP scores, specifically in the areas of math and communication arts.
“That’s the important, really good news,” Besendorfer said. “There are some areas that we did not meet, and some of those were areas we expected not to meet, but there are other places where we want to do better.”
Also during the meeting, the board gave unanimous permission for the administration to seek funds for an expansion of Franklin Technology Center at 2020 S. Iowa Ave., but reserved the right to reconsider the project if and when the money does come through.
A survey of need has to be filed with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by Aug. 15, but new Superintendent C.J. Huff said the money may not be handed out until 2010, if at all.
The state funding would require the school district to match the money. The expansion project is estimated to cost $6 million.
Huff said there is no reason not to apply for the funds, but that a “mature decision” needs to be made if and when the state gives approval for the project. Board member Ashley Micklethwaite voiced concerns about coming up with the estimated $3 million in local matching funds while several elementary schools still have classes in overflow trailers.
“We need to be cautious in looking at what our priorities are and how we spend our capital funds,” Micklethwaite said.
Former board member Robert “Bo” Lee attended the work session before the regular meeting and reminded the group about its promise to eliminate trailers from the elementary schools.
Board president Anne Sharp said the board is still committed to eliminating the trailers from Joplin’s schools and has not forgotten what it promised Joplin residents who passed a bond issue in 2007 to pay for three middle-school projects.
“We don’t want people to think that we’re not going to fulfill our promise,” Sharp said after the meeting. “Getting rid of trailers is very important to us, but this board is focused on what is best for every student.”
Huff said the local funds could be raised partially through federal funding and business-industry partnerships, and that the board could back out from the procedure even after the state granted the funding.
The tech center has more than 75,000 square feet and has undergone three expansions since it was built in 1966, but it has no vacant shops or classrooms. Several technology programs are being housed at Joplin High School and would be moved back to the tech center if it were expanded.
The tech center’s director, Dave Rockers, said the expansion also would provide room for new programs such as the proposed diesel technology program, and would allow the school to move its machine tool and manufacturing technology program back from its current location at Missouri Southern State University.
In other business, the board unanimously awarded a contract to build a sewer line to the new East Middle School to Cecil Brill Construction for $376,031.70. That project is a partnership between the school district and the city of Duquesne because the line eventually will provide sewer service to that entire area.
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 12, with a work session starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Joplin High School Eagle Talon Room and the regular session starting at 7 p.m.
The Joplin R-8 School District will open bids from construction companies wanting to do the renovations to North Middle School at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, in the administration building at 1717 E. 15th St. The district’s architectural firm, Patterson, Latimer, Jones, Brannon, Denham Inc. in Joplin, estimated the cost for the 93,000-square-foot addition and renovation of the school at $20 million. That is $4.5 million more than the board originally budgeted for the project.
By Melissa Dunson