The Sedalia 200 School Board heard an update about the new therapy dog program during the meeting at Heber Hunt Elementary, Monday night.

The new therapy dog, named Vince, was introduced to the group by Heber Hunt counselor, Amanda Jackson.

Vince is 14-weeks old and has a lot of training ahead of him. Jackson explained that Vince goes home with her every night after work and lives with her family. While Vince is not officially certified as a therapy dog, his access test can be completed in approximately one-year.

Ryan Skaith

Although he is not yet certified, Jackson explained to the board that Vince is already helping students cope with a variety of disorders, including PTSD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, and students diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.

Jackson said Vince provides comfort to students and can be used to assist children in socially awkward settings, making it easier for other students to approach comfortably. Vince is not considered a service dog, as Jackson added he is open to all students in the district.

According to Jackson, therapy dogs can lift moods, reduce blood pressure, decrease anxiety, and increase motivation and engagement in students.

Vince is not the only therapy dog in the district. His brother, Raider, is currently a therapy dog at Skyline Elementary.

Towards the end of the presentation, Jackson said, "It's an honor to have a district that embraces out-of-the-box thinking to have this for students."

In other action, the school board approved the district's 2017 audit and agreed to a Network Management Services contract with Midwest Computech, in the amount of $5,845 per month.

Assistant Superintendent, Steve Triplett, said the technology has outgrown the district's current staff. The contract provides additional support engineers to assist the district's employees with a variety of tech-related issues, such as troubleshooting, firewall protection, and service operations.

Triplett said there is a 'sense of urgency' in the matter, as currently there are only 4 people in the district to handle tech work and technology demands have grown, especially in the past 2-years.

As an example of the workload, Triplett noted at the beginning of the school year there were about 650 service requests from staff; that number is now down to nearly 200 requests. According to the contract, Midwest Computech will provide the district with 5-6 additional engineers.

Towards the end of the meeting, Superintendent Brad Pollitt said district attendance is just under 88% for the year. On Monday afternoon, a post on the Sedalia School District's Facebook page read; A small number of students at Skyline Elementary School have contracted chicken pox; those students have been removed from school until they are clear of the disease. Parents of children in the control group, which includes all non-immunized second graders, non-immunized students who ride buses with the afflicted students, and non-immunized siblings of control group students, have been notified. If they remain non-immunized, control group students will be held out of school for 21-days to inhibit spread of the disease. If they get immunized, they must still remain out of school for 14-days.

The next school board meeting will take place October 23 at Smith-Cotton High School.

Ryan Skaith