Kirksville High School Principal Randy Mikel updated the Kirksville R-III School Board on KHS Learning Center at its meeting Wednesday, saying the new program has improved the school’s environment and already gotten one struggling student ready to graduate. 

The Learning Center, which opened for the first time at the beginning of this semester, places students who have behavioral problems or are not on track for graduation in a new setting, where they’re separated from other students and take classes at their own pace online. 

Mikel said the program currently has 19 students enrolled, who are supervised by two teachers. He said one student who needed to make up a few credits to graduate is almost ready to do so after just three weeks in the Learning Center. 

Mikel said he has also gotten positive feedback from teachers who said the Learning Center has contributed to a better culture in the high school as a whole by removing disruptive students from classrooms where they weren’t thriving. He said the majority of students who have moved to the Learning Center are rising to the challenge, though a few are not progressing. 

“We might have to cut them loose and get some students in there that are gonna do what they need to be doing,” Mikel said, though he added that KHS would seek other options for those students. 

The board also voted to approve several purchases of equipment for the district, including 50 new HP Chromebook laptops and two Chromebook carts for KHS. The board voted to accept the low bid from IT company CDW-G to provide the equipment for a total of $10,300. 

Assistant Superintendant Tricia Reger said the district plans to gradually increase its supply of Chromebooks, which she said have become an increasingly prominent replacement for textbooks in many situations. 

The board also voted to purchase 20 additional Chromebooks from CDW-G for the Kirksville Area Technical Center; 50 percent of the cost will be funded by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for a total cost to the district of $2,482.50. 

Additionally, DESE is funding 75 percent of the cost for several items for laboratory use by students enrolled in KATC’s nursing program. The board approved new purchases including several new medical mannequins and a diagnostics kit for a total cost to the district of $10,258.23. 

KHS juniors will be able to take the ACT for free again this year, with the board approving the $57 per student cost of taking the test. 

Lovegreen Ford announced at the meeting it will host its fourth annual Drive For Your School fundraiser Oct. 6, in which participants can test drive any Ford vehicle on a preplanned route along with the Kirksville High School student. This year, Brashear students will also volunteer at the event and raise money for their school. 

Bill Lovegreen, the dealership’s owner, said he and his staff “take a day off of selling” to run the fundraiser.  

“We can raise up to $6,000 in one day,” Lovegreen said. 

On Oct. 27-30, board members plan to attend the annual Missouri School Board Association conference in the Lake of the Ozarks, which focuses on statewide school board policy and advocacy. Students in KATC’s construction trades class will also attend the conference to demonstrate the skills taught in the class.  

Also at the meeting, the KHS student body officers presented on their plans for the semester, which include planning the upcoming homecoming dance and hosting a closed blood drive for students on Oct. 2, and fifth grade students presented on their participation in a mentoring program that helps students who are new to Kirksville adjust to their new school. 

Topics of discussion at future school board meetings will include plans to open a school-based health center, the possible acquisition of the Kirksville Armory currently owned by the Army National Guard and options for virtual education. Districts around Missouri are considering how to comply with a new state law that requires them to pay for students to take any online course their district does not offer, as long as it’s in the best interest of the student. 

At the board’s last meeting, KHS Assistant Principal Jesse Wolf presented on a possible partnership which virtual education company K12 Inc. District Superintendent Dr. Damon Kizzire said the issue is still being considered and that it may be cheaper for students to take classes from providers who have their online education classes approved directly by the state. 

“That’s going to be an ongoing process,” Kizzire said.