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Dixon schools prepare for work on summer construction projects
DIXON, Mo. (April 16, 2009) — Dixon schools may see numerous construction projects begin when classes end in less than two months.

High School Principal Jerry Braschler told Dixon R-I School Board members at their Thursday night meeting that plans are underway to improve the looks of the front part of Dixon High School’s exterior; Superintendent Dawna Burrow said the plans call for better windows and for fewer windows to save on energy expenses.

“They are energy efficient and you can open them, which we can’t do now,” Burrow said. “We would pretty much tear the wall down and redo it.”

Window, block and brick bids are expected to cost $3,268 for the windows and $25,739 for the masonry work. A cheaper option of a brick veneer could be used, Burrow said, but won’t last as long as the current block-and-brick construction.

Early estimates on roof repair work on the high school will likely be in excess of $100,000, Burrow said, which is significantly more than had been expected.

“I would hope prices of material would go down, but you know how things are, I might as well not hope that and plan on prices going up,” Burrow said. “I know that’s doing it in stages, but it’s also doing it with funds we have on hand right now.”

Board member Craig Rivera said he supported Burrow’s plan to do construction work with funds on hand rather than debt.

Board President Troy Porter asked if there’s any way Dixon can follow the plans of the Crocker R-II School District to use Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to build a building that meets storm shelter standards. That’s been a problem for Pulaski County schools since the Lake Ozark Council of Local Governments failed to complete a hazard mitigation plan for Pulaski County and the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, to which Pulaski County transferred due to complaints about poor performance by the Lake Ozark Council, hasn’t yet finished the plan. Local government agencies in Pulaski County, including school districts, aren’t eligible for FEMA funds until that hazard mitigation plan is done.

“I talked to somebody about that today. We still haven’t given up on FEMA money to do some of the things we’d like to do,” Burrow said.

Dixon Middle School Principal Jim Brown said wind damage on the Dixon Middle School roof appears to have caused “leaks where we’ve never had leaks before,” but said the insurance company will pay most of the $8,950 cost for repairs.

Dixon Elementary School Principal Joyce Shepherd presented a school construction proposal for cleaning up three elementary school bathrooms that relies mostly on employee labor, but board members questioned whether board members have time for the work.

“This is with our guys doing all the labor?” asked board member Craig Sellers. “It seems like it takes a long time getting anything done.”

Burrow said the plan would need to be evaluated and said a bid would probably be needed for the work.

In other business:

• Shepherd said she’d like to obtain a therapy dog for Dixon Elementary School similar to one being provided to St. James schools. Fort Leonard Wood personnel will train the dog for free if the school obtains an appropriate dog, she said.

“We think this will be great for the autistic children, the low reading children, staff members who are stressed or whatever,” Shepherd said.

“What do these therapy dogs do?” Rivera asked.

“It’s been proven that this is great therapy for a high-need child, a high-behavior child. I can name probably 10 kids in our building right now who could definitely benefit from this,” Shepherd said. “With an autistic child, if they are all stressed out, you can have them kind of just pet the dog. Some of the low readers even read to the dogs. I know that sounds crazy, but it works.”

“No, it’s not,” said board member Robert Hill. “Why do people with dogs live longer? They have less stress.”

• Responding to questions from board members about high copying expenses, Burrow said she’s examining the bills closely.

“The principals and I discussed that and we discussed the number of copies and what was going on in the buildings, and they will be spending the rest of this year investigating, seeing if they can figure out what exactly is going on,” Burrow said. “We also batted around remedies to that.”

• Lisa Brandt, Dixon’s director of technology, reported that she’ll be replacing a computer server that is more than five years old and is used to handle all of the district’s administration building computer operations.

• Board members renewed the district’s student athlete insurance program at the same rate as previous years.

“We need to make sure nobody starts the year next year, student athletes or otherwise, without student insurance if they need it,” Burrow said.

• Board members approved May 22 as the date for the end-of-year staff luncheon.

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