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California R

May 31, 2024

A time and date has been set for the California R-I Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP) committee's first meeting.

The specifics of the meeting were discussed at the July 19 California R-I Board of Education meeting, along with updates on the high school and ongoing projects across the district. Superintendent Daniel Williams also spoke on security in the upcoming school year as the district transitions from two school resource officers (SROs) to one, along with a partnership with local law enforcement agencies.

A CSIP committee consisting of students, parents, other community stakeholders and district staff will meet at 6 p.m. Aug. 21 to discuss ways the district could improve. The ideas are compiled into a plan that must comply with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (DESE's) Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP) 6 guidelines. Although DESE's final deadline is Oct. 15, Williams said the DESE area supervisor recommended having the plan complete by Sept. 1 for review. Four retired superintendents will score the CSIP, which will be returned to the district for improvements to possibly recover missed points ahead of the Oct. 15 deadline.

CSIP plans must be written every five years, and revised and approved by the district's Board of Education annually.

Williams iterated the CSIP accounts for a significant portion of the district's Annual Performance Report (APR) score. According to DESE, the CSIP accounts for 30 of the 51 points for the continuous improvement category, which is 30 percent of the total APR score. Scoring of some CSIP items, as board member Tony Haile pointed out, can be tricky -- with some parts requiring multiple items and being pass-fail.

"The way they explained it in the training, it's not like an 'A, B, C,' it's like a 'pass-fail' grade, too, on your scoring of your CSIP on some of those items," he said. Williams clarified that if DESE is looking for four items in a single scorable area, three of the four must be present to get the points for that area.

In addition to the CSIP committee, the district is looking for input from patrons and community members through an online survey posted on its website and social media. The survey can be accessed at

High school update

After discussion in the June meeting, the board agreed to having building administration teams rotate presenting reports to the board. California High School Principal Jeff West was the first to present.

West said the high school replaced projectors with 14 new 70-inch televisions in the building, providing a clearer image for students. Four classrooms also received new furniture, including desks featuring a dry-erase surface for students to write on. He added student input was used in the purchasing process.

"... we had about five different chairs and Mr. (Tim) Beydler (assistant high school principal) set the chairs out one day and as kids came by (we) had them sit in them, rate them A, B, C or D," West said. "We got some customer reviews ... it was kind of a fun thing. They talked about what they liked, what they didn't like."

The high school intends to continue upgrading the classrooms, West said, with the goal of replacing additional projectors with six new televisions this year and upgrading furniture in two classrooms per year. He added many classrooms are still using the original furniture from when the school was opened back in 1993.

West also addressed staffing, starting with new teachers. The high school has hired new teachers for marketing, math, REACH and JAG, and physical education. (Williams said REACH is a tier 2 intervention class providing assistance to students, and JAG is a dropout prevention and school-to-work program that helps underprivileged students.) A new counselor and eight new coaches -- for softball, girls soccer (a new addition), football, girls basketball and wrestling -- have also joined the school, along with a new activities director -- Mike Beeman.

Improving teaching quality and improving the evaluation process was the main focus of West's presentation. He said teachers participate in the evaluation process themselves by grading classroom instruction in example videos. West said he and Beydler completed 135 in-classroom evaluations in the 2022-23 school year, his first year with the district, compared to only 17 evaluations done for the entire 2021-22 year.

Much like the district's CSIP, West said high school teachers collaborated on creating a teacher professional development plan to improve critical thinking and problem solving skills during a professional development session. He added the process was tied to the teacher evaluation process.

Ongoing focus, West emphasized, is on daily instruction for students.

"That's where, we feel like, we're going to get most of our kids most of the time is with what's considered Tier 1 instruction, or your daily instruction," he said. "That's what we're focused on right now, how we do what we do normally every day with all of our kids. That's kind of where our focus has been and will be for the upcoming school year."

Professional development sessions will be geared toward improving daily instruction, West said. One part will focus on student engagement in the learning process, which also includes finding ways to challenge students' critical thinking and problem solving skills. He added building a positive environment for everyone -- students and staff -- is also key to improving daily instruction.

"I think it goes without saying that a good, positive school culture is going to help with staff retention, obviously student behavior and all types of things," West said.

West said staff identified safety and security as the last key component to improving instruction at the school. He said Beydler collaborates with other staff to determine safety procedures and address concerns, and safety will be an area of emphasis for upcoming professional development sessions.

Safety partnerships

With safety playing an instrumental role in the district's quality of education, Williams provided a brief update on how its lone SRO will be deployed and potential partnerships with other law enforcement agencies.

Contention was raised around going from two SROs to just one at the board's April meeting. Williams did not elaborate at the meeting on why the change was made, but said budget was only one factor. He continued that security upgrades -- including the addition of the district's new SafeDefend system -- and fast law enforcement response times also factored into the decision.

Williams said SRO Scott Harkins will work with Assistant Superintendent Matt Abernathy to determine Harkins' placement in the district, especially in the morning for arrivals at the elementary and middle school campus. Williams added that he discussed having an increased law enforcement presence at the district's campuses with the California Police Department and other Moniteau County sheriff deputies.

"Just a good faith offer I made to all law enforcement was that breakfast and lunch are on us," he said. "Show up anytime you want, come walk the building and eat for free. I actually attended a city council meeting and offered that out, and (California Police Department) Chief Daniel (Hurt) was that quick to say 'You got it.'"

Other business

In other business, the board:

Recognized players named to the 2023 Academic All-State baseball team, which includes Tristan Nokes, Martin Kilmer, Hayden Kilmer, Brayden Hallford, Gavin Porter and Jace Schreck. The players may be recognized in-person during a board meeting in the school year.

Approved policy 2023B, which addresses rewritten state statutes regarding reading and establishes the second week of April as the Holocaust Education Week.

Approved a raise for teachers who substitute during their planning time, moving from $20 to $25. The raise will also apply to teachers who provide after-school tutoring, homebound instruction, supervise detention or provide other additional services.

Discussed DESE's career ladder, a program that can help districts compensate teachers for additional services, and school handbooks.

Approved a Safe Return to In-Person Learning and Continuity of Services Plan. Nothing changed in the plan, which must be approved every six months until August 2024.

Project updates

Abernathy also presented updates on projects throughout the district:

Charles Luebbert Hardwood Floors, of Jefferson City, completed work on the California High School gymnasium floor, including restaining it and applying new graphics approved at the March meeting. The floor is currently curing as the crew moves to wax the California Middle School gymnasium floor.

The secure-entry vestibule at California Elementary School is nearly complete aside from small details, including access control components. Abernathy said he's working with another vendor to get access control components for the project, as he felt the district's current access control vendor wanted too much for the job. He said he's looking into switching the entire district to the second provider, as they offer a more robust system that would be more user-friendly and is compatible with the district's existing hardware.

The district's maintenance crew replaced the epoxy floors in the elementary school's 1976 wing restrooms. Because the older concrete floor is more porous, three coats of wax were applied to prevent fluids from being soaked into the floor.

Higgins Asphalt, of Tipton, completed asphalting district parking lots except the elementary school's northern lot. The removal of the concrete island in front of the elementary and middle school campus added approximately six additional parking spots. Abernathy said there were previously 14 spots in the lot and five to six spots on the street. There are now 26 spots. Williams later iterated that people residing near the school should not park on district lots during school hours or snow removal. He is also discouraging staff from parking on the street, which creates a safety hazard for students and affects those residing near the school with minimal parking.

The City of California is replacing analog water meters with digital meters, with four scheduled to be replaced across the district. Two meters are at Old Riley Field, and another near the elementary school northern parking lot. However, a meter installed several feet below the California High School baseball/softball grandstands is also being replaced, which will require concrete work. Abernathy said the city is doing the work and paying for repairs.

Thermal Mechanics Inc., with help from Lehmen Heating and Cooling and Meyer Electric, have installed all cassette-style air handlers for the new variable-refrigerant volume heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the elementary school's 2004 wing. Air handlers serving smaller areas, such as hallways and closets, are still being installed. Installation of the condensing units was slated to begin Thursday with a 40-ton crane hoisting the units into place on the school's roof.

SafeDefend representatives are scheduled to begin installing the safes, along with the included protective measures, first aid equipment and other tools, and activation devices Thursday across the district.


The California R-I Board of Education will meet again at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 in the California High School media center.

Print Headline: California R-I board prepares for CSIP

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