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Parents as Teachers report increased demand to R-2 School Board

The Jackson R-2 School Board approved the Parents at Teachers (PAT) Program Evaluation after hearing a presentation on the program by the three parent educators, Heidi Crowden, Keely Martin and Cathlin Hayes.

The PAT program supports parents and their children from prenatal to kindergarten entry. The program consists of personalized home visits from the certified parent educators, group connections and developmental screening. The last time the program was reviewed was May 2014.

“It’s been a couple years since we’ve been up here,” Crowden said. “Our faces haven’t changed but our numbers have drastically changed.”

They currently serve 276 families that consist of 385 children. The program has also enrolled 47 new families since August.

The home visits last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes long, and each of the parent educators average four home visits a day. The parent educators bring handouts and other activities to gage the children’s development.

“We know that we are guests when we go into their homes, so I think we all do a great job of customizing each visit to make sure that we are delivering the information in a way that the parents can understand,” Martin said.

During the 2016-17 school year, 304 children were screened and 35 percent showed indicated delays in development.

Martin said they have become very good at being able to spot developmental issues in the children and referring the parents to resources to help their child if they are not meeting common milestones for their age.

“One of my biggest rewards is when a family sends me a text of a video or picture of a child doing something for the first time,” Martin said. “If they think to share with that with me, you would think they would share that with grandma or an aunt or uncle.”

They get reimbursed from the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education $65 for every high-needs personal visit we conduct and $50 if they are not high-needs. During the last school year, the parent educators conducted 1,422 home visits. This was an increase from the previous year, where they conducted 1,234 home visits.
High-needs families receive priority in the program. Families can get that distinction from the state by meeting one of various criteria that includes being low income, being part of a military family, having a child with a disability and being a teen parent.

The program is currently not advertised because of the already-growing demand from word of mouth.

“Our screenings fill up very quickly,” Hayes said. “Right now we are scheduling for December.”

While the demand for this program has grown, the funding from the state hasn’t gone up with the need, making expansions of the program hard.

“PAT and transportation seem to take a hit every time there’s a budget cut in education,” Superintendent Dr. John Link said.

In other action:

• Graduation for the 2017-18 school year was set for 7 p.m. on May 18 at the Show-Me Center at Southeast Missouri State University

• The board decided to lock the tuition rates for nonresident students to increase three percent each year for the next three years. These students are from school districts, including Nell Holcomb R-IV School District, that have K-8 schools but send those students to Jackson Schools for ninth grade up.

Bleau Deckerd, associate superintendent of finance and business operations, explained that locking in these numbers will make these districts be able to budget the expense of paying the tuition accurately. He said the revenue is not significant for Jackson due to this only applying to about 40 students a year, but for these smaller districts in is a major item in their budgets.

In past years, the tuition has risen or fallen dramatically due to a complicated formula given by the state Jackson R-2 uses. Deckerd said that while it fluctuates, the overall trend is a three percent rise over the past five years.

• A presentation was presented by FFA officers and agriculture department teachers about the agriculture curriculum. Currently there are 598 total students grades six through 12 that are taking an agriculture class. 284 of those students are in grades nine through 12.

The FFA students talked about their successful showings at the SEMO District Fair, as well as highlighting the 11 students who are doing a Supervised Occupational Experience (SOE.) Those students work with various agriculture-related businesses to gain real-world experience. These ranged from beef production to taxidermy to vegetable production.

New agriculture classes offered this year is a certified veterinarian assistant class, where students will learn and work with veterinarians to become certified assistants, and Ag Power, where students learn about properly handling and repairing mechanical equipment. Agriculture Department Head James McCormick teaches the two semester-length Ag Power classes and mentioned the students working on troubleshooting chainsaws and small motors to get them to run. He also plans to teach how to repair lawnmowers in the spring.

• The district approved bids for both the Jackson High School Project and the North Elementary Project. Deckerd mentioned that many of the North bidders were the same companies they are already successfully working with at the high school.

• The district is currently working on changing some of the boundaries for the elementary schools. The schools that may be affected are South, Orchard and West Lane. This process is said to be done in December so that parents can be notified with ample time.

• The Jackson R-2 School Board meets the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. The November meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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