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Support services prepares for upcoming school year

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Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2016 3:12 pm

By Tom Johns

The excitement is in the air. Students are ready to return to class and teachers are ready to get back into the classroom. Everybody begins that wonderful thing called “school”. When we think about school, the thoughts of academics, test scores, and sports always seem to jump to the forefront.  But there is another side to “school”. That side is called Support Services. When we think about all the support service requirements in education, it can become overwhelming. Let’s take a look at some of the Support Services areas in Mountain Grove Schools and what may look different this year.

Transporting students to and from school is the responsibility of the transportation department. The district runs 18 routes transporting about 1,000 students per day. The transportation department has not changed dramatically. However, there are a couple of things that will look different. First, one of the bus routes is changing numbers. For more than 20 years bus number 14 has covered our most southern area of the district. This year bus 14 will no longer be in the line-up. It is changing to bus number 4. This will allow our longest route to be near the front of the school bus line-up when departing from the school. Another change is that all route buses now have the digital video recording system. This includes a camera on the outside of the bus that will identify stop arm violators. Stop arm violations are very dangerous because it is during the time of loading or unloading students.

In the area of food service, the district is happy to announce a new service coming in September. We are partnering with a company called My School Bucks. This system will allow parents to make their payments online anytime anywhere via the internet. It is a cloud based system that can be accessed through a computer, smart phone, or any other internet device. Parents can make payments, check balances, or see what their child ate that day. Parents can make automatic deposits or send themselves alerts when their balance gets low. This will be the first step of a two-step process. The second step will be the “School Store” portion of the software. That portion will allow parents to make other types of payments to the school such as library fees, lost book fees or even booster club purchases. Other changes this year include additional hydration stations in the cafeterias. At the elementary school, there will no longer be a microwave in the cafeteria due to health department and other regulations. Lastly, remember that each year all families must complete a new free and reduced lunch form. Forms are being mailed and are available at all district buildings.

In the facilities department, students and parents will see freshly waxed floors, new paint, and many other small changes. The district maintains more than 500,000 square feet of buildings and just over 55 acres of land. The entire staff has worked diligently getting everything ready. Additionally, a parking lot expansion was completed at the Vocational School, a roof project was completed at the High School, the Elementary parking lot received sealing and painting, and the Middle School received a much needed new dishwasher in the kitchen.

As for the area of nursing, there are new immunization requirements for Missouri schools. Incoming 8th and 12th grade students are directly affected by these changes. Although state requirements have not changed, preschool and kindergarten students need to ensure their immunizations are current as well. Parents should contact their doctor to make sure their child is properly immunized and submit a copy of the documentation to the child’s school nurse as soon as possible. Please make arrangements to get your children vaccinated now to avoid the back to school rush.

Lastly, the district has applied for a grant through the Missouri Department of Transportation. The grant program would be funded through the new Missouri Moves Cost Share Program. This program came from funds set aside by the governor earlier this year. The district applied for the grant mirroring a project that was submitted in 2013 which was School Board and MoDOT approved before the state pulled all funding at the last minute. The project involves widening Hwy. 95 in front of the High School (approximately 650 feet). This would allow a center turn lane to be installed making bus traffic in and out of the school much safer. This portion of Hwy. 95 handles about 11,000 vehicles a day and is considered by MoDOT one of the busiest two lane highways in southern Missouri. The project also would provide a school bus and parent drop off loop with new sidewalks in front of the High School (west side). The last portion of the project would provide handicap access into the High School on the west side and a safety vestibule entry system to control visitor check in.  MoDOT plans to announce awards in late September. If approved, the project will begin in the spring of 2017.