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Dixon school's mono problem not as bad as first feared last week
DIXON, Mo. (March 24, 2009) — Problems with mononucleosis in the Dixon R-I School District may have been exaggerated, Dixon High School Principal Jerry Braschler said at Monday night’s board meeting.

Dixon school officials took immediate action when they discovered that several student athletes had mononucleosis and had been sharing water bottles. Superintendent Dawna Burrow shut down the water fountains, provided disposable paper cups, and told students they need to stop sharing drinking utensils.

However, even with the mononucleosis outbreak, Dixon High School had a 89 percent attendance rate, Dixon Middle School had a 92 percent attendance rate, and Dixon Elementary had 94 percent attendance.

Braschler said he suspected the number of students calling in sick was related to spring break starting just a few days after the mononucleosis was discovered.

“We had a lot of sniffles, a lot of colds and I think some of them decided to just start spring break a little early,” Braschler said.

Dixon Middle School Principal Jim Brown agreed, noting that 33 students were out sick on the second-to-last day before spring break and 42 were out on the last day.

“That brought us down quite a bit,” Brown said.

Dixon Elementary School Principal Joyce Shepherd said when high school students aren’t calling in sick, they’ve been very helpful to her students through volunteer tutoring with Missouri’s A-plus program. That’s a program that includes many components, including supervised volunteer work, that if completed will result in students receiving two free years of tuition to a Missouri community college.

“The high school kids are our saving grace helping us keep our heads above water and work with our at-special needs and at-risk kids,” Shepherd said. “We have a lot of high school kids come to the elementary after school hours. They are a huge blessing to us and I appreciate you allowing them to do that.”

Braschler said he’s working to improve grades through other methods as well.

“We’re going to get aggressively after the students who are getting Ds and Fs; we are going to make them go into mandatory study hall,” Braschler said.

Student who receive grades above a D-level will receive various types of rewards in the hope that lower-performing students will see the students getting the rewards and want to participate.

Those rewards include school trips. Some board members asked why a once-popular fishing trip was no longer on the activity list; school principals said two teachers who are no longer on staff didn’t like the fishing trips.

“There are so many kids who never get to do that,” said board member Danny Miller.

Board member Craig Rivera agreed that the fishing trips were particular popular with fathers who rarely come to other activities, but said the fishing location must be selected carefully.

“It’s important to be sure the kids on a fishing trip go somewhere they can get a fish,” Rivers said.

In other business:

• Board members agreed that two basketball jerseys would be framed and sealed for preservation purposes and their numbers permanently retired for two players on the 1969 state championship team, John Brown and Paul Hauck.

• Brown reported that reported that parents from the seventh-grade basketball team wanted to put up a banner for the team’s victorious season at the parents’ cost, which has been the Dixon policy in the past. Board members agreed to hang the banner if parents pay for it.

• Board members granted approval to several teachers to apply for grants.

“Grants are a good thing and all teachers should apply,” Miller said.

• Representatives of the Sellers-Sexton car dealership presented a teacher-of-the-quarter award to high school science teacher Richard Sinden.

• Board members agreed to allow Project Prom students to use school buses for a trip to Tan-Tar-A resort.

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