A project update at the R-9 Board of Education meeting Monday evening placed the construction of the Carthage High School technical center behind schedule, as it has been for some months.


A project update at the R-9 Board of Education meeting Monday evening placed the construction of the Carthage High School technical center behind schedule, as it has been for some months.

Board members were briefed on the progress of the tech center by Gerald LaPreze, project manager for Wehr Construction, and Bevan Brawner, a representative for Hight-Jackson Associates, a planning and development firm.

Brawner reported the roofing for the center has been completed. He noted the crews are close to wrapping up the interior masonry, while the exterior masonry, as well as the panel and window installation, is currently underway.

Pointing toward the May 18 deadline for the project, Brawner wasn’t hopeful.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” he said. “We’re ahead on several items, but based on the current progress, we’re looking at an end-of-June completion date.”

LaPreze, however, was pragmatic, if not more optimistic.

“We haven’t lost any ground,” he said. “More good weather is going to play a major factor.”

He said the construction crew’s top priority, now, is to close up the building within the next two weeks. He was hopeful that once the exterior is finished, his crews could make up a good deal of lost time working on the interior.

“I think we’re making progress,” he said. “With a little extra manpower, we can beat the end of June date. But we also have to maintain a certain amount of quality.

“We don’t want to outrun ourselves.”

An end-of-June completion date could mean financial turmoil for the district. Because the tech center is partially funded with state dollars, the project has to strictly adhere to state guidelines. If it runs over-deadline, the district could be forced to pay back much of the state funding, which amounts to several hundred thousand dollars.

The districts monetary woes don’t end there, however. Superintendent Blaine Henningson delivered hard news to the board in his monthly report. He noted that budget cuts from the state will spell difficult decisions for the board.

“We’re beginning the budget process, and money is not going to be forthcoming,” he said.

Henningson noted that between withholdings and reductions, the R-9 district will suffer a $1,000,000 loss over the next two years. The board, he said, would have some tough choices to make when allocating funds for the district, but he hoped the residents of the district would lend a hand in those decisions.

“We’re asking the public to take an online survey,” he said. “We’re hoping we can use that information to help with cost-savings and make some important decisions for the future.”

The budget priority survey asks residents to prioritize school projects based on which ones they consider more or less important for the district. Those programs and projects that receive lower scores will be in the crosshairs when the hatchet comes down.

Henningson noted that nearly 400 staff members, as well as 400 private citizens, have already taken the survey.

The budget priority survey, which he said will take about 10 minutes to complete, can be found online through the district’s Web site at Carthage.k12.mo.us. 

The board was also given a student performance update by Carthage High School principal Kandy Frazier.

Frazier reported that 2009 test scores showed students had scored above the target goal in all three testable categories.

“For the first time in our history we met in all three areas,” she said.

Frazier noted more than 73 percent of students passed the end-of-course algebra exams, beating the target of 59 percent. In communication arts, nearly 60 percent passed, beating the target percentile score of 54.

Finally, the CHS graduation rate topped out at nearly 83 percent, beating 2008’s rate of 79 percent and 2007’s rate of 73 percent.

Frazier also laid out this year’s adequate yearly progress objectives, future CHS strategies, action steps and school strengths.

In other news, the board:

* Heard and approved an evaluative report on career education.

* Heard and approved an evaluative report on facilities and maintenance.

* Heard an update on the Carthage R-9 School Foundation.

* Heard an update on the Missouri Assessment Program.

* Awarded three Do the Right Thing Awards to Carthage High School students. Awarded were Andrea Westhoff, who organized a relief effort for Haiti that raised over $1,500, and Oliver Shramm and Bobby Murphy, for rescuing and performing CPR on a student who passed out in the YMCA pool.