SIKESTON -- The Sikeston R-6 Board of Education is inching closer to placing a bond issue on the April ballot.
At Tuesday's regular meeting the Board voted in favor of hiring Gilmore and Bell PC of St. Louis to provide bond counsel services for the district.
"The guidance through Gilmore and Bell is something we simply cannot do without," Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller told the board.
Borgsmiller pointed out the district incurs no costs until a bond issue proves successful. Should the bond issue be placed on the ballot and passed, the estimated cost for Gilmore and Bell's legal counsel is about $25,000.
The board is still considering placing a bond issue on the April 5 ballot, but has not made a final decision. However, the deadline to place an issue on the ballot is Jan. 25.
Services provided by Gilmore and Bell include legal analyzing and structuring, preparing legal documents, filing of documents, preparing bond forms, attending the bond closing, preparing bond transcripts, etc.
Also during Tuesday's meeting, 33rd Circuit Chief Juvenile Officer Bill Lawson noted the district's Truancy Court, which is in its third year, continues to be successful.
First implemented during the 2002-2003 school year, the Juvenile Court pilot program dubbed Truancy Court was created to reduce truancy and what is described as educational neglect among public schools.
"This far into the program, I'm really happy where we are," Lawson said. "We've had inquires from school districts all around the area wanting to copy what we're doing."
The Poplar Bluff School District has already implemented a Truancy Court, Lawson noted. Other school districts in Scott County have also contacted Lawson or other county officials about starting a similar program.
"They're asking, 'How can we do what you're doing in Sikeston?'" Lawson said. "The answer is we can't, but we can do something and we will. We're negotiating with some of them to bring a little bit of what we do in Sikeston there."
Truancy Court is held at 7 a.m. every Wednesday at the Board of Education office. Parents and principals of the students are present for their children's appearances.
The program is a partnership between the Juvenile Court, the local school system, Missouri Children's Division, the county prosecuting attorney, local law enforcement officials, parents and children.
"There are way too many pressures and distractions to attract kids away from school. There are way too many opportunities for kids to find other things to do, and we believe the efforts of your school district will pay enormous dividends over the years," Lawson told the board.
Borgsmiller pointed out that of the students who attended the nonvoluntary Truancy Court in the 2002-2003 school year, 5,000 additional hours were gained -- hours that otherwise they wouldn't have been attended without the court.
"We tracked the same students for the '03-'04 school year, whether they were still in truancy or not, and the net effect is those children who have gone to Truancy Court -- you have improved attendance, diminishment in the number of discipline referrals to the office and you have better grades," Borgsmiller commented.
In addition, the number of students in the court's jurisdiction decreased for the 2003-2004 school year. "The numbers are down because the reputation of program is getting out, children, nor their parents, are not wild about being here at 7 a.m. Wednesday, and as a result number of referrals was down," Borgsmiller explained.
The net gain for the 2003-2004 year was right at 2,500 hours, and the gain in eligible pupil funding over the last two years was a little over $29,000, Borgsmiller said.
"That's money we otherwise wouldn't have had, should we not have this proactive method here," Borgsmiller said.
In other business, Borgsmiller noted in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, school will not be in session Monday. Board members were also recognized by the superintendent for School Board Recognition Week, which is scheduled for Jan. 23-29.