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story.lead_photo.caption Gary Baker Photo by California Democrat File

The Moniteau County R-1 School District Board of Education met Wednesday, Sept. 15 to discuss a variety of topics related to the school district and its students. Among the topics addressed were, most notably, reports from principals regarding the first week of school.

During the meeting, principals representing California Elementary School, California Middle School and California High School spoke about their progress during the first week of class. With the academic year having started Sept. 7, each principal gathered information they believed was relevant to the board meeting.

The school board called on CES principal Gary Baker to begin the conversation. During his turn to speak, Baker mentioned that the school kicked off its fundraiser for developing the elementary's agriculture department. Baker said the plan is to create a "true Pre-K through 12th-grade agriculture department" within California's schools.

With that in mind, Baker went on to thank CHS principal Sean Kirksey for assisting CES students in this matter. By working with his agriculture faculty to set up partnerships between students, Baker said the high-schoolers were able to help in growing his students' knowledge of the agricultural world.

Once Baker had concluded his report, CMS principal Matt Abernathy noted how the new construction in the district influenced his student body. With the new edition connecting middle and elementary school buildings, the fifth grade class has since been folded into Abernathy's middle school.

He said he was happy to report there have been no issues with this change. Abernathy said the transition for fifth-graders into the building and bringing teachers back into an environment that they are familiar with has "rejuvenated" the entire staff. Abernathy said both new and old faculty members welcomed each other very well.

This was complemented with the success of the school's open house, which had about 90 percent of families attending CMS at registration. ELA test scores also indicated a strong grasp on general concepts by the student body, which Abernathy said he was very satisfied with.

He went on to report that he was approached by several people who wanted to develop a Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) at the middle school. Abernathy said this would be a great opportunity, as the group would be able to help CMS with school dances, donation drives and other events.

Abernathy ended his time by thanking coach Jennifer Porter for her outstanding work as the school's athletic director.

The board then turned its attention toward Kirksey for his report for the high school. While Kirksey said that he did not have much to add, he did want to express his thoughts about COVID-19 procedures in relation to the high school's approaching Homecoming dance, set for Oct. 1. Last year, the school did not allow outside guests, so Kirksey said he wanted to clarify this rule with the board before moving forward with it again for the current school year. After some back and forth with the board, they ultimately left the decision up to Kirksey.

After that was decided, Kirksey said CHS was off to a great start, and he thanked the athletic directors for their work with students. This led into several athletic directors reports, special program reports and, ultimately, the superintendent's report for the school year.

Superintendent Dwight Sanders reported on the district's ongoing construction, which he said was going quite smoothly. After moving the completion date throughout the summer, he did not want to place an exact date for when all elements of the construction project would be finished. However, he did mention that staff, students and faculty were able to move into their new classrooms that had been built. Sanders said all faculty will be in their new spaces by the end of the month.

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