The Fredonia Moccasin School District Board meeting had a full audience last week. The vaguely written agenda brought concerned citizens out in droves, to find out what items like “music vs athletics” meant to district students.

Public comment began with parent Derran Tait explaining the benefits of a wrestling program. He stated wrestling builds character and morale, and gives children who may not want to participate in other athletic programs another option.

PTO President Alicia McCormick spoke next commending elementary school principal Wright’s hard work. She represented all the parents of the PTO, expressing their appreciation for his involvement with the students and classrooms.

Student Mikaila Russell was unsure what the agenda item meant, so she expressed her support for both music and athletics. Russell said she is involved in basketball, track and band and would also like to be in chorus. She feels both programs are beneficial and have helped many students.

Music teacher Lanell Allen was also unsure what the agenda item meant, and expressed her concern for the future of the music program. She explained the phenomenal growth the music department has seen over the last few years, with almost half the middle/high school student body now participating. 

Teacher Brett Waite spoke in an attempt to dispel rumors of excessive expulsions occurring at the school. He stated, “I realize the school board takes expulsion very seriously.” He indicated he has only seen students expelled who put other students and the school in danger. As a parent, he appreciated their expulsion for the safety of his children who also attend school there. 

Business manager Dorene Mudrow displayed a Power Point presentation of the 2009-2010 Audit General report. She explained the total spending per student has increased, but actual spending has decreased. This is due to lower student enrollment numbers. AIMS scores for the district are lower than similar size schools and the state, however the attendance rate was average and graduation rate higher.

Mudrow updated the board on the 2012 budget.  She explained that the district anticipated several substantial cuts, including reduced CORL or capital funding which would be a $20,999 cut, a soft capital cut and maintenance and operations cut.

In addition, funding for CAVIAT and JTED will no longer be available for ninth graders who make up 30% of the enrollees. The state is also changing the retirement contributions for employees from 50%/50% to employee 53%/employer 47%.  Mudrow was not yet sure of the impact this will have on the budget.

At a previous meeting, Superintendant Nicholas Bartlett was asked what type of intervention was being done to help students keep from failing. Mrs. Allen compiled information regarding the efforts made by the school including things like teacher mentoring and tutoring, early morning credit recovery/Odyssey, counseling programs, home visits, conferences and more. 

Mudrow explained the PASS program could also be used for intervention. Parents and students can access student information online. Attendance, tardiness, assignments and progress reports are all available through PASS on the www.fredonia.org school website.

The board was informed the opening for an Industrial Arts Teacher will be posted. They have already received a few applications, and are looking into the possibility of the new instructor teaching an automotive maintenance class as well.

The much awaited Music vs Athletics item was discussed.  Board member Mont Griffiths congratulated Allen for her music program, with appreciation for her hard work. 

Griffiths expressed his feeling that athletic programs should begin in fourth grade to give the fundamental basics for sports. He said, “We give music time, but not athletic time. If we do not start early, we will just be a joke.” He explained that in order to have competitive high school teams, the fundamentals must be taught early. 

The rest of the board, as well as the administration, agreed this was important. The item was not an action item; it was only up for discussion. The possibility of eliminating one program or the other was never discussed nor suggested, simply the importance of starting early.

Griffiths also expressed his desire to implement a wrestling program. He reiterated the feelings of Derran Tait that it would give students not interested in the current available programs an opportunity to participate in sports. He explained, in his experience, students involved in athletics have an incentive to do well in school and maintain their grades, when they otherwise would not. He explained he would like to create programs in school, not lose them.

Board member Ron Johnson asked Griffiths what the cost would be for a wrestling program, and Griffiths was unsure.

Finally, the board entered into executive session for a “formative review of the superintendent’s performance.”