Alva Review-Courier -

One teacher, two non-certified staff hired for Alva Public Schools


September 14, 2022

Debbie Whittet

Meeting Tuesday, Sept. 6, the Alva Board of Education hired a new teacher and two non-certified staff members. Board President Jane McDermott presided with board members Karen Koehn, Larry Parker and Shane Hansen present. Tiffany Slater was absent.

The board voted to offer a one year teaching contract to Debbie Whittet. Longfellow Principal Alysson Tucker introduced Whittet to the board. She will be a physical education teacher for second grade students at Longfellow Elementary and for fourth and fifth grade students at Lincoln Elementary. Whittet has been approved by the state to teach while working on her teaching certification.

Haley Fowler was approved for a position as a paraprofessional at Washington Early Childhood Center. Austin McGee will be an accompanist for high school and middle school choirs after the passing of Jewel Conner.

Superintendent Tim Argo told the board that Jackie Sims Ince has resigned as a paraprofessional because her family is moving.

Strategic Plan Update

Supt. Argo introduced Principal Stephanie Marteney from Alva Middle School to present an update on the personnel area of the school's strategic plan. Marteney first gave an overview of the four areas of focus:

• Curriculum and Instruction

• Culture and Community

• Personnel

• Resources

She listed the action steps under each of the four focus areas.

Marteney's focus area is personnel so she provided additional information in that area. She said one step is the "grow your own" program. Alva wants to bring potential teachers from Northwestern Oklahoma State University to local schools to do their observation hours and student teaching. "We want to help these students grow and to want to come into Alva and teach for us," she said. They are also working with Northwest Technology to see how they can help students more.

Work is being done on a staffing plan for substitute teachers and non-instructional staff. They need more substitute teachers for the schools and a way to track availability. The group is also working on retention. "We want to figure out the best way to keep Alva teachers here," Marteney said.

Another focus is scheduling options for a professional learning community. She said this is easier in the elementary schools, but they want to allow time for teachers during the day to make plans for their classes.

School board members had several comments and questions. Argo said he has met with the K20 Center and the state school board association about restarting the strategic plan. "Schools across Oklahoma are struggling with how to restart their plans," he said. In the spring, state personnel will come back to Alva to hold another community forum to "look at where we're at and look at what needs to be adjusted," he said.

Financial Report

At the beginning of the meeting, Argo went over financial information. He said for the year to date, gross production tax revenue is up $98,000 while motor vehicle tax income is down $38,000. The school won't see an amount for the county 4 mill ad valorem until December or January.

He told the board there's a big discrepancy between revenue and expenses. In the budget, revenue was increased by $40,000 this year. However, expenses have gone up $189,000 from increases in salaries, property insurance, fleet insurance and other items. He asked the board to be mindful of those expenses.

Argo said activity accounts are in good standing. The athletic accounts have the majority of the increases with a balance of $44,000 as a result of sales of flags, media guides and live streaming.

The child nutrition fund shows an increase in lunches. "I want to thank our families for their diligence on paying lunch balances. They've done a great job," said Argo.

He encouraged people to fill out free and reduced lunch applications. The school has 238 completed applications to date. While each of those may represent multiple students in a household, "we need to collect more," he said. "Our enrollment sits at 1,051 right now." He said getting those application impacts the federal aid received by the school.

The superintendent presented a list of items to be declared surplus. These include kitchen equipment from Alva Middle School and part of the reading series from Longfellow Elementary.

When the board looked at purchase orders, Argo pointed out several specifcally. In the general fund $1,108 was for a remote access point at the high school principal's office. Another $3,941 was for installation of vape detectors at the middle school and high school. The school spent $1,530 for repairs to various restroom locks and partitions at the high school. The activity bus required $9,000 in repairs. Floors of the new gym and old gym at the high school as well as the basketball court at the middle school were refinished for a total of $9,900. Another $2,925 was spent for tech education software, but that will be reimbursed from federal program funds.

The building fund purchase orders included $1,000 for repairs to the boiler for the high school auditorium.

In the child nutrition fund, $2,500 was designated for repairs to dishwasher throughout the school district. Argo said Keystone Food Service was asked to list some items or areas for improvement. From that list, the school is replacing $9,706 worth of old equipment. "We hope this will make things easier for our cooks," Argo said.

Looking at the gift fund, Argo said he is thankful for the Share Trust and their generosity in helping Alva students attend multiple universities. He said 15 are at NWOSU, nine at OSU, three at OU, three at UCO, and one each at Southwest College in Kansas, Oklahoma City University, University of Wisconsin, Northern Oklahoma College in Enid, Southwest Christian in Oklahoma City, and Spartan Academy in Tulsa.

Other Business

The school board approved revisions to the extra duty pay schedule. As a 3/7 ESL teacher, Julie Benningfield qualifies for an extra stipend from a federal program so that was added. Heather Hall will be helping with concessions again this year. Angela Lake, a paraprofessional, has nursing certifications so the school will be paying her the $2,000 nursing stipend. Argo said she'll meet the needs of some students at Washington School. Austin McGee was added to the schedule as an accompanist.

Argo was approved by the board to review the background checks from the National Criminal History Record Searches.

The internal activities committee was approved. They review any appeals that may be necessary with regard to student activity absences. Committee members are Administrator Vickie Nighswonger, Dave Foster, Kris Gore, Valerie Rider, Tina Pettus, Randy Nation, and parent Ashley Ferguson.

The gifted and talented committee was approved for this school year. Argo said they meet, review and potentially make revisions to the school's board policy on gifted and talented programs. Those members include parents Courtney Nessaralla and Amber Bosch; administrator Stephanie Marteney; teachers Rachel Cunningham, Kasey Adair and Cara Bradt; and counselors Valerie Rider, Jaci Heaton and Tina Pettus.

Because the district has fewer than ten students in alternative education, the state requires that the board approve a statutory waiver allowing them to service the students without participating in a cooperative agreement. The board approved the waiver.

The board also approved school board policies that cover smart snacks in school vending machines and school capacities in regard to student transfers.


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