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Kirkwood School Board Swears in New Members, Computer Labs To Go Mobile

Other business at Monday's meeting of the Kirkwood School Board included middle school renovations and approval of a Chinese teacher.

The Kirkwood Board of Education swore in two new members Monday evening, along with Scott Stream who begins his third term on the board. Heidi Meckes and E.J. Miller took their seats on the board, as Matt Cottler and Ruth Jayne took their leave.

"My children have left for college, and I'm ready to pass the baton to someone more vested in this district," Jayne said in her farewell speech. "The voters have made a wise choice. I can step back into my life knowing that Kirkwood is in great hands."

The board elected Scott Stream as president, Angie Bay as vice president and Andy Stewart as secretary. It also voted in Mike Romay as the treasurer and McCarthy, Leonard & Kaemmerer as the district's legal firm.

After the reorganization, the board moved on to regular business, including the approval of $390,000 worth of new computer equipment for the high school, two middle schools and four elementary schools. Director of Technology Services Randy Friedline said that the main goal for the computer purchases is to create mobile computer labs at each of the schools.

"[Computer] labs are dying, teachers hate them," Friedline said. "They have to schedule time for them, they lose 20 minutes of their class time running kids down there…this way we can bring machines to them on a schedule, it's a quick setup and they're ready to roll."

Aside from the mobile computer labs, the technology update will provide iMacs and PC desktops for visual art and industrial arts classrooms at Kirkwood High School, and begin the process of updating the tablet computers being used by science classes.

The board also approved new hires for the district. Stream pointed out that among the new hires is a Chinese language teacher for Kirkwood High School, which he said is an exciting addition for the district. He said that more than 150 students asked for the class, and 75 are currently registered for it.

"We say we want to prepare our kids for the 21st century, and this is clearly a step in that direction," Bay said.

Other business attended to by the school board Monday evening was the approval of construction contracts for renovations at Nipher and North Kirkwood middle schools. Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Michael Havener reviewed bids and made recommendations to the board based on which companies quoted the lowest costs and possessed strong references.

John Glunt spoke in support of the administration's vetting process for the contractors, saying that the interviews were especially important since the district has not worked with any of these companies before.

"I sat in on part of the interview process with the contractors," he said. "I feel strongly, based on the references that came back since we were dealing in all cases with people we hadn't done business with before, that this is a really solid recommendation."

The board approved Havener's recommendation of contracting ICS Construction Services for Nipher Middle School at about $3.4 million, and Wright Construction Services for North Kirkwood Middle School at about $2.4 million. The projects will be funded by the Proposition 1 ballot initiative. Construction bids for the district's elementary school renovations will be collected and voted on next month.

In other business, the school board voted in approval of raising breakfast and lunch prices by 10 cents next school year, and keeping the buss pass fee at $487 per year. Bus passes are necessary only for students who live too close to their schools to qualify for free bus service. For elementary students that distance is one mile, middle school students 1.5 miles and high school students two miles. Havener said only 15 to 20 students purchase bus passes each year.

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