Wildcat Academy closing

By Lucas Lord

Beginning next school year, the Wildcat Academy will be no more. Built in 2003, the alternative school at 302 Eastwood Rd., Harrisonville, has been damaged by frequent flooding, roof issues and other maintenance problems in recent years. According to Superintendent Paul Mensching, the building has fallen into disrepair, necessitating the moving of the at-risk program to the high school.

“Currently, the building houses some students who are on long-term suspension and some students who are deficient in credits and enrolled in our Missouri Options program which prepares them to take a state exam while working and earning credits so they can graduate on time,” Mensching said. “Other students who are at risk are sometimes assigned to be in a more successful environment. Students are in and out throughout the day, with a total of 20 to 25 ‘enrolled’ there in the at-risk portion.”

Mensching said the cost of maintaining the building has slowly started to outweigh its usefulness.

“In addition to the maintenance concerns for the building (roof, windows, flooding and mold), moving these services to the high school will allow for more direct instruction from teachers without creating extra travel burdens,” he said. “We will have a separate area of the high school dedicated to this program.”

Members of the school board unanimously agreed to moving the program instead of trying to save the building during its May 17 meeting.

The board also voted to approve five pay schedule increases. The first increase was for certified salaried staff. Two options were discussed by the board.

Option No. 1 added $1,750 to the base salary, making it $40,000.

This would have added an estimated additional cost of $377,000 to the district, not including benefits.

Option No. 2 added $750 to the base, making it $39,000 with an additional $100 increase each step. Mensching said with this option, certified staff would move a step up on the salary schedule which would add an estimated additional cost of $420,000 to the district, not including benefits. Ultimately, the board voted to approve option No. 2 and to move certified staff up a step.

The second pay increase is for substitute teachers. The board approved a $1.25 an hour increase, which will cost the district an additional $23,000 annually, not including benefits.

The third increase was for coaches, whose pay is tied to the same schedule as certified salaried employees.

The fourth increase was for clerical and support staff. The board approved a $1.50 an hour increase and to raise all staff a step on the pay schedule. Secretarial staff received an additional $1 an hour raise.

The fifth and final increase was for nine-month salaries, which received a $0.35-cent increase across the board. All staff on a
nine-month contractual basis were also raised a step on the pay schedule.

After a lengthy discussion, the board voted to approve a contract with ABBCO Service Corp. of St. Louis to provide the janitorial services for the district. ABBCO is also the current contract holder.

Three bids were received. The new three-year contract will begin July 1 and will cost the district $3,754,412.

Voting in favor of awarding the contract were board members Nancy Shelton, Douglas Meyer, Doug Alexander, Cameron Chenoweth and Emily Stone. Board members Bing Schimmelpfenning and Jenny Wagoner dissented.

“There have been many issues with the company and we are giving them three more years. There has been a lack of transparency and a lack of accountability so I didn’t think they should get the new contract,” Schimmelpfenning said.

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