Harrisonville school board earns MSBA honor

Special to the Democrat MissourianNovember 1, 2013 

The Harrisonville School Board was one of 10 school boards in the state selected by the Missouri School Boards’ Association as an Outstanding Board of Education for 2013. Pictured from left are: (first row) President Deb Welhoff and Marie Vallee; (second row) Vice President Jeff Rudell, Ron Kroenke, Marv Cochran, David Kauffman, and Chad Reynolds.

BETHANY BASHIOUM/DEMOCRAT MISSOURIAN

Harrisonville School Board members took a turn at receiving recognition instead of handing it out Oct. 15.

They accepted an award for excellence in governance, leadership and accountability given by the Missouri School Boards’ Association. Recently named one of Missouri’s Outstanding Boards of Education for 2013 at the MSBA Annual Conference held at the Lake of the Ozarks, the Harrisonville school board is one of only two schools in the Kansas City metro area to earn such accolades, noted Superintendent Bryan McDonald, who enthusiastically expressed his praise and gratitude for the group’s efforts.

“I think this is a great example for other school boards in the area – as well as for our staff, our students, and our parents – to recognize the efforts that you all put in to make this award happen,” said McDonald as he presented board members with an official plaque from the conference. “You deserve a big congratulation for all that you do.”

On the agenda regarding assessment and evaluation of district programs, Jill Filer, director of communications and community relations, presented the board with a public relations program review, highlighting projects completed during the 2012-2013 school year and identifying goals for 2013-14.

Revamped for 2013-14, the Harrisonville Highlights newsletter now incorporates information from district partners, including the city, chamber of commerce, hospital, library and historical society. She also promoted the new Senior Experience Blog — in which seven students are voluntarily blogging about their senior years — and encouraged board members to follow their journeys.

Emphasizing the importance of social media as a communications tool, Filer pointed out the social media directory on the website, which lists staff members and groups using social media to get information out to parents and students. She also outlined a new team approach to the district’s Twitter account that involves several members of administration sending out tweets, differentiating themselves with their initials and using hash tags specific to their buildings and events.

Stressing the importance of a new campaign on attendance, “Be Here – All Day, Every Day,” Filer explained how the district is trying to raise awareness and education throughout the month of October on the value of consistent attendance. According to Filer, the district must ensure that everyone in the community understands how attendance can impact a student's ability to succeed.

“This starts in kindergarten; it’s not just a high school issue,” she said. “Even two absences a month, which doesn’t sound like a lot, equal 18 days. That’s almost 10 percent of the days of the school year and could have a major impact on a student’s success.”

To wrap up the attendance push, Filer noted that all schools will be hosting an “all-in” day Oct. 28 – a day the district hopes will celebrate all staff and students being present at school.

In addition new features and changes to improve the district’s website, Filer said she is also looking into a mobile app that would enable patrons to access the school website over the Internet on their smartphones. She promised to come back to the board at a later date with more information on that front.

In other business, the board voted in favor of the following action items:

• Approve the 2012-13 district audit as presented by Diana Closterman, of Westbrook & Co., P.C.

• Endorse Red Ribbon Week for the purpose of raising awareness and preventing drug and alcohol abuse.

• Approve the recommended changes to board policies IK, JG-R, GDPD, and JED-R — and rescission of policy JCB.

• Declare specified items as surplus property as presented.

• Approve the contract in the amount of $26,840.50 to Mid-America Contracting for the concrete pier foundation and awning installation at three of the district’s buildings as presented.

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