The Carthage R-9 Career Ladder program may still be on the block when the budget axe comes down for the 2010-11 school year.


The Carthage R-9 Career Ladder program may still be on the block when the budget axe comes down for the 2010-11 school year.

Career Ladder Chairman Mark Sponaugle gave a grateful but concerned report to the Board of Education on Monday, thanking the board for its commitment to the program but also acknowledging that Career Ladder may not be around for much longer.

Established in 1985, the program offers financial rewards to Missouri teachers who provide extra student-related academic work, like tutoring and parent contact. It’s funded by a 50/50 match with the state, and while the Carthage board has pledged to pay their half of the funding, it is still unclear whether the Missouri General Assembly will honor its half.

“We should get $300,000,” said Sponaugle of the state’s pledge. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

The Missouri State Teacher’s Association reported on March 19 the proposed education budget has cleared the House Budget Committee with full funding for Career Ladder, although it noted that federal stabilization money pays for the program, making its future uncertain.

House Budget Chairman Allen Icet noted, however, he feels the budget is $200 million out of balance, and said that more cuts could be expected before final passage.

Sponaugle applauded the program’s success at Monday’s board meeting.

“There’s good things happening,” he said. “Even if Career Ladder doesn’t continue, the committee has always appreciated the board’s support.”

Sponaugle reported that during the 2008-09 school year, Carthage teachers involved in Career Ladder logged more than 23,000 hours beyond the regular school day. That figure exceeds the minimum state requirement by more than 5,000 hours.

There were 185 teachers involved in the program during that period, and each teacher averaged about 126 hours.

Board President Jeff Jones asked Sponaugle whether there were any state grants that might salvage the program if budget cuts call for the axe. Sponaugle was uncertain, but said that the Career Ladder committee would look into the issue and put together a plan of action over the next four or five meetings.

Local opinion among teachers as to whether or not Career Ladder should continue is almost unanimous. In a vote among 287 teachers in the district — 172 who are part of the program and 115 who are not — only one teacher voted to discontinue the program.

In other business, the board met in executive session to accept the resignations of the following seven teachers:

• Tricia Brust, first grade, Pleasant Valley Elementary.

• LaDonna Joyce, second grade, Steadley Elementary.

• Alisha Krusich, counselor, Carthage High School.

• Beverly Mouton, kindergarten, Fairview Elementary.

• Amanda Ryan, English language learners, Fairview Elementary.

• Dennis Sloan, special education, Fairview Elementary.

• Tresha Thompson, fourth grade, Columbian Elementary.