The Harrisonville School Board meeting began with a changing of the guard at the April 15 reorganization session, at which time Susie Yoder and Jerald Dickey were sworn in as new members, as was incumbent Deb Welhoff
As the board welcomed new members, it also recognized outgoing member Ron Kroenke for his dedication and years of service to the group. During officer elections, Marie Vallee was elected president of the board, Jeff Rudell was named vice-president, Welhoff will serve as MSBA delegate with Yoder as an alternate, Susan Brooker will remain board secretary and Kathy VanGorkom will stay board treasurer.
Following the reorganization of the board, student recognitions took center stage, starting with the introduction of two budding young authors. Becky Campbell, principal of Harrisonville Early Childhood Center, brought Krissy Smither and Gabrielle Vaughn up to the podium to showcase their outstanding writing skills.
"I have with me two lovely ladies from kindergarten this evening," said Campbell. "This year, we have been working really hard on improving our writing strategies and using four square and other templates to help with organization."
Standing confidently at the microphone, Krissy kicked off the presentation by reading her book on sea turtles. "Sea turtles have a hard shell," she said. "There are eight kinds of sea turtles, and I think sea turtles are amazing."
Gabrielle shared her book about butterflies next, outlining many facts, such as how they lay eggs and come out of a chrysalis. "Butterflies have beautiful and pretty wings; I like them because they are pretty," she concluded, adding that she wanted to end with a "feeling" statement.
Hailey Callahan and Laney Brown (who was unable to attend) were also recognized by the board for their work with the Harrisonville Elementary School’s recycling program. Principal Jauna Weber talked about how important these students are to the success of the program as well as outlined their duties.
Next Rachael Murray, president of the Academic Booster Club, shared information on the organization’s plans and goals for the school year. Campbell followed this report up with an Early Childhood Education presentation, including information on the district’s Parents as Teachers and preschool programs.
When it came time to address the final action item on the agenda, a motion to approve the board resolution that would enable the lease/purchase of Apple MacBook Air devices at Harrisonville High School failed in a roll call vote — with two members voting in favor of the resolution (Chad Reynolds and Welhoff) and five against it (Yoder, Dickey, Marv Cochran, Rudell, and Vallee).
Initially expressing concern over not having enough information to make a decision on this vote, Dickey asked for more specifics from administration and the technology department about a number of factors, including what the up-front costs would be, future expenses on apps that might stem from this endeavor, how to accommodate students who don’t have WiFi at home, and the overall cost savings for implementing this method over traditional hard copy textbooks. He also said he felt community patrons had not been given enough information on the program for him to feel comfortable voting at this time.
"Don’t get me wrong. I am for this idea," Dickey said. "I just have some questions, and it would be nice to have participation from the parents. I think there is a group of people out there who truly don’t know what’s going on."
Yoder shared Dickey’s sentiments, adding that she was worried about insurance issues and how the deductibles on these machines would be handled in case of damage, theft or loss.
Both Dickey and Yoder suggested scheduling several information nights for parents and students in order to educate them on the computers as well as gain important hands-on feedback on the program. Board members agreed this would be beneficial.
Because not all board members were in agreement about moving forward with the technology implementation, Rudell suggested holding a special board meeting on April 29 to allow additional time for documentation and data to be gathered that would address all of the outstanding questions presented at the meeting. The board will revisit the matter at that time.