The Sedalia 200 School Board held the first work session of 2018 at Smith-Cotton Junior High on Monday night to consider future plans for the district, including expansion.

Ryan Skaith

Sedalia 200 Board President, Dr. Jeffrey Sharp, said the "district is approaching capacity," indicating the need for expansion.

Members of L.J. Hart Company presented the board with information concerning the financial possibilities for a potential no-tax increase ballot issue and construction options for the future.

The presentation contained information about options in reference to the 55-cent levy that is currently in place and was passed in 2006. The levy, which includes a sunset clause, is set to expire during the 2026-2027 school year. A possible option to generate funding is to extend the current levy, while keeping the rate at 55-cents .

In regards to the long-term financial outlook, Sedalia 200 Superintendent Brad Pollitt said, "the district is in a position to not increase taxes." Sedalia residents would have to vote later this year on extending the levy, if the board decides to pursue that option. The discussion Monday night was used to gain information about options and no official decision was made. It was stressed that the current rate would not increase.

It was noted that no new construction would occur in the district until at least 2019.

Another item up for discussion was an Enhancement Grant application to the Department of Secondary Education. If approved, the grant would be used to help the district create a bio-medical program as part of STEM. The total value of the grant is $249,500.

The board also heard an update regarding new instructional technology at the junior high school. Part of the tech includes a new smart panel, which looks like a large screen TV, and allows up to 16 students to use it at once with multi-touch technology.

The smart panel can be used in conjunction with tablets and Chromebooks. During the update, it was noted that the new smart panel is mobile and can travel to different classrooms as needed. The smart panel can last up to 50,000 hours before the need for replacement.

Another new technology item for the district includes virtual reality (VR) headsets.

The VR devices can be used to connect with the free program, Google Expedition, which allows students to take virtual tours of places around the globe.

The school board had a chance to test some of the VR headsets and seemed impressed with the applications. The devices can be applied to science and history classrooms, as well as a number of other departments.

Board member, Scott Gardner, expressed an interest in the VR tech possibly being used for student assessments in the future.

The school board will consider these and other items at the January 22 meeting.

Ryan Skaith