Nearly 100 people packed the room at the Nov. 29 Raymore-Peculiar board of education meeting in anticipation of the student recognition awards, which were presented to three groups that evening.
Kicking off the meeting was a video of highlights of the high school varsity cheerleaders winning the Missouri state cheerleading championships. At the competition, which took place Oct. 21 at the Hearnes Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia, the girls competed against the best 5A schools in the state, were rated on their performance of cheer, stunts, tumbling and dance.
Next, the board recognized senior Cheyanne Lyons, who received the Evelyn Gates Award, an honor given annually to the top female high school volleyball player in the Kansas City area. Lyons, who plans to attend the University of Northern Colorado, received the award during a surprise pep assembly Nov. 8 at the high school.
Finally, John Van Pelt, journalism teacher at East Middle School, introduced Caleb Daniels, Jeana Scott, and Guin Wright, who served as editors of The East Edge middle school newspaper last year. The school board recognized Van Pelt and the students for winning the Pacemaker Award, an honor he characterized as “the biggest award in scholastic journalism,” which is presented to the top junior high/middle school newspaper in the nation.
“Now they are getting involved in their high school yearbook and newspaper,” he said. “I know they are going to go far in this profession – they are the future of good American journalism.”
The board also took action on other items, such as approving the 2011-12 audit. Board members also approved the October 2012 transportation bus ridership count, as presented by Steve Meyers, director of facilities and support services.
In order to comply with Department of Elementary and Secondary Education transportation guidelines, the board is also required to approve students riding less than one mile to school. As of Oct. 17, Meyers reported that Ray-Pec was transporting 133 students who live within identified hazardous walking zones within a mile of their respective school. Meyers asked board members to sign off on transportation for these 133 students, a recommendation that unanimously passed.
The board heard program evaluation reports and goal setting updates for next year from several staff members, including a Transportation Program Review from Steve Meyers; a Parents As Teachers Program Review by Coordinator Cindy Watson; an Early Childhood Program Review by Teacher Lindsey Adamcyzk, and a Special Education Program Review by Linda Bass, district coordinator of special services.
Superintendent Jeff Kyle also gave a brief report about the impact of potential sequestration cuts that will go into effect in January 2013 unless Congress finds more than a trillion dollars in deficit reduction. Kyle provided the following facts about sequestration and urged everyone to contact their senators and representatives to make their voices heard in support of public education.
• For every $1 million of federal aid districts receive, they would lose $82,000; and, while districts can vary widely, on average, for every 5,000 students enrolled, districts would lose about $300,000.
• The impact of an 8.2 percent cut to programs such as Title I grants for disadvantaged students would mean a cut of more than $1 billion, affecting nearly two million students.
• Special education grants would be reduced by more than $900 million, impacting nearly 500,000 children with disabilities.
• English Language Acquisition grants would be cut by approximately $60 million, affecting an estimated 377,000 students.
• These budget cuts to education programs would take place during 2013-14 school year, with the exception of Impact Aid, with which cuts would become effective during this school year.
• Sequestration's budget cuts to these and other education program would mean increased class sizes and less access to programs for children with special needs, as well as summer school, college counselors, early childhood education, and after-school programming.
• Certain school bond programs would also be affected by a 7.6 percent reduction in federal subsidy payments.