SIKESTON -- A contract to provide services to visually impaired students was awarded to a Jackson educator during Tuesday's Sikeston R-6 Board of Education regular meeting.
Jennifer K. Coy of Jackson was approved for a one-year contract with the district to provide vision instruction/orientation and mobility therapy services.
"We recently sent a letter out requesting proposals for these services" said Cindy Griffin, assistant superintendent of elementary grades and special services. "We had a list of providers that was given to us by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Within our area -- a 75-mile radius -- there were five providers that we sent the letter to, requesting proposals."
The district received one proposal, which was from Coy, Griffin said. Coy is a certified teacher of students with visual impairments, certified orientation and mobility specialist and certified low vision therapist.
Coy's direct service of teaching visually impaired students is $70 per hour.
"This is comparable to what we pay for physical and occupational therapy at Kenny Rogers Children's Center," Griffin said.
Travel is 48 cents a mile while assessments and evaluation services are $300, Griffin said.
Board member Amy Blanton asked how many students in the district would need this service.
"Currently, that number is rather low," Griffin said. "... It's good to have (the service) in place because it could change at any time due to transfers from another district."
The district is required by DESE to have the services readily available to its students, Griffin said. The approved proposal also includes an option of two additional contracts of one year each that will be renewable based on approval of appropriations by the Board of Education.
In other business, R-6 Director of Transportation Ron Hampton briefed the board on the annual transportation report.
When asked by board member Julie Dolan what the district is doing to cut fuel costs, Hampton said the department is working on several different things for the future.
"We're taking a look at the routes and possibly changing them," Hampton said. "Right now the price of fuel is going down."
Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller told the board Hampton has a map of where every child in the district lives, and he's breaking it out by school, grade level, density of population to more effectively manage the routes.
"We are a very efficient transportation department right now because, for one thing, we have all of the bus starts for schools staggered now, and that means fewer drivers are needed to run the routes," Borgsmiller said.
Over the past couple of years, the district has managed to cut from running 24 buses to 20 buses, which decreases costs, Hampton said.
Dolan asked about the status of the transportation department's budget.
"So far this year we're right where we should be," Hampton said.
Last year the transportation department was $65,000 over the budget for fuel, Borgsmiller said.
Nikki Vaught, health services coordinator, discussed the district's health services over the past year. In 2007, school nurses saw 39,086 students in their offices. Nurses referred 627 students to community health providers, such as dentists, optometrists, mental health related professionals, she said.
"Last year we also provided all of the students in Sikeston Career and Technology Center's child development class with pediatric first aid certification," Vaught said.
In providing the annual library media services report, Terri Mickey, department head, discussed the results of the annual student and staff survey.
"The faculty was complimentary of our library services. They suggested more technology and more materials specific to their content areas," Mickey said.
In general, students said they use the library mainly for checking out books and for the computers, Mickey said. Students suggested more magazines and books be added to their libraries, she said.
Lynn Crader, principal at New Horizons, provided the board with the at-risk services report.
"This year we started a schoolwide positive behavior support program to reduce disciplinary referrals and increase school climate by increasing student recognition and teacher recognition," Crader said.
The program includes positive behavior lessons for about 15 minutes every Wednesday morning, Crader said. This year the school has also expanded its course offerings to include personal finance, keyboarding (music) and other classes.
Currently enrollment at New Horizons is 74. Bulldog Academic Resource Center has 36 students, and the suspension school has 28 students.
Districtwide student enrollment since Oct. 1 has remained fixed with more than 3,500 students, Borgsmiller noted.
Also on Tuesday, board members accepted Sharon Sorrell's request to be released from her contract, and they approved the 2008-2009 bus routes and health services handbook.