Applause and laughter echoed Wednesday through an empty South Callaway High School as the district recognized educators for years of service and celebrated the retirement of three teachers.
The school board held the reception before its monthly meeting in which 15 educators and one bus driver were recognized for 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service.
"I'm so excited," said Leah Cave, an early childhood teacher at South Callaway. "The best 10 years of my life."
Educators Patti Sheets, Donna McGrath and Beth Baysinger were congratulated on their retirement, with Superintendent Kevin Hillman noting how much they would be missed.
"Quite possibly the last teacher here to have me in the classroom," Board President Todd Mealy said of Baysinger — calling her one of the best after 31 years at the school.
The board continued with normal business after the reception, including a vote approving $281,748 for the renovation of roadways and parking areas around the school's campus. Most notably, an improvement to the parking and roads near the middle school gym doors, making the area more accessible and easy to find. The board opted for the use of concrete instead of asphalt after some discussion on the durability of each, saying concrete was cheaper and should have a good lifespan.
The board also approved changes to the pay scales for non-certified positions, including custodians, cooks, maintenance staff and secretaries. Hillman said the district tries to revisit the scales every few years to keep it competitive with other districts in the area.
"I feel very good about the numbers I'm presenting you right here," Hillman said.
A $1,000 stipend for two instructional coaches was also approved by the board. Instructional coaches handle additional tasks for the school, including training new staff and attending technology seminars. The board asked how many additional hours an instructional coach would work before hearing from staffers and approving the stipend, citing worries of over-paying.
"(The instructional coaches) have become our in-house trainers on technology," said Mary Van-Orden, director of curriculum and instruction.
Hillman and Heather Helsel, principal of South Callaway High School, also briefed the board on a program they would like to bring to South Callaway to improve the selection of classes and credit attainment. The Launch program is an online resource through Springfield Public Schools which allows students to take classes online and receive help from educators.
Helsel noted it would include dual-credit and AP opportunities. Hillman said he did not want the board to take action during the meeting, but wanted them to know the discussion will likely be coming.
"In the next couple of years, there will be more opportunities or availability for classes for our students than ever in the history of this school," he said.