Board receives update on college initiative

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The Perry County District 32 school board continued to speculate on the community college initiative. The board had originally supported the Great River Community College District Committee, but pulled their support when they felt they didn’t have all the necessary information.
The board welcomed City Administrator Brent Buerck and Perry County Economic Authority Director Scott Sattler in to discuss the finer details.
The initiative will also be voted on by the Jackson and Cape Girardeau districts and even if Perry County voted it down, the other two counties could still vote it through, leaving Perryville to still be responsible for the tax levy.
“My concern is supporting something that may be voted down by our community,” Bauwens said.
There is a needs assessment planned to be completed in April that the city and county each put $10,000 in to help with the cost. Sattler said that the assessment will go a long way to help them decide.
“We can still pull out at any time,” Sattler said. “We need to see what that assessment is recommending for our community. Employers in this region need that technical service and I think there is a void for technical service in this area.”
Mineral Area College and Rankin Technical Institute serve area students, which also provide general studies and other majors. Bauwens wanted to make sure that the initiative would also help the academic studies as well as technical training.
The board agreed to wait to support the initiative until the results of the assessment is finalized.
The board continued the meeting with changes to the therapy dog program.
The furry friends visited the PCSD 32 campus regularly, bringing joy and comfort to students and staff members alike, but that service was put on pause because of the pandemic. The dogs, particularly Jasmine, will return to the campus in a limited capacity at some point this year.
“We’ve looked at the procedures we had in place last year and how to make them COVID- friendly,” Leslie Ackerman said. “We enjoy everyone getting exposure to the dogs, however we have a small group that need her for anxiety and we want them to help those children, but how can we do it safely?”
Ackerman looked at what protocols hospitals use for dog therapy and how she can use those protocols on campus.
The rules they will use are to sanitize the dog and the hands of anyone who touches the dog afterwards. Ackerman will restrict the dog’s movement throughout the campus and also limit the number of kids who can be around the dog to one child at a time.
“One of the biggest times of exposure was in the morning,” Ackerman said instead of having a line of kids, we will just do a wave and greet in the morning. That way she can still be present.”
Perry County Superintendent Andy Comstock gave an update on the progress of the elementary renovation project and also some changes to the academic calendar for next school year.
The meeting began with the approval of the FY ’20 audit and they also approved the FY ’22 grant that was put forth by Perry County Area Career and Technology Center Director Craig Hayden. The grant will help the Auto Collision, Auto Service, Welding Technology and Industrial Technology.
The meeting concluded with a report from the Parents as Teachers educators who specialize in child development and early learning and the importance on keeping the children on track during the pandemic.
The next board meeting will take place Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.

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